Thinking Bigger About Business: Biblical Foundations for BAM

What does God say about business? What were His intentions when he made enterprise part of His design for human society? For those pursuing business as mission it is essential to build on solid Biblical foundations.

Three reasons to build a Biblical foundation for business, work and economics:
1. Broadening our horizons

Most start with a particular motivation when they launch into BAM and there is nothing wrong with that. However, embracing all the ways that business might positively impact a community will give us greater potential to intentionally create that impact. Let us understand and embrace the fullness of God’s design for business. Let us celebrate His intentions. As we do that, we will have to say, “Wow!” God is so creative and He has given us the ability to be creative, to add value, to make money, to create wealth and come up with new innovations, that provide livelihoods, that help a community develop, that help us live in peace, that close the door on exploitation, that give lives meaning and transform people’s values, that communicates the Gospel… These are all God’s gifts to us in business! Read more

Entrepreneurs on Mission: Two Barriers to Break Through

by Mark Russell

There comes a day when we sit back and ask ourselves what we are going to do with our lives. In a sense, I am still asking myself that question. But many years ago I felt a nudge, a call if you will, to spend time in cross-cultural contexts advancing the gospel. At the time, I had no idea what that entailed. The only role models I had to look to were the missionaries I had met in Paraguay. They were either medical doctors or preachers. As a business student, it seemed I would have to leave behind my business interests and develop a new set of skills.

A few years into my overseas ministry, I began to ask myself some new questions about why couldn’t one be a businessperson and a kingdom builder at the same time.   At the time I was working in a traditional missionary setting, but quickly found that a lot of people resonated with my search to integrate business and mission. Later, I realized that people all over the world were working independently to the same end. It seems God is up to something.

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BAM in a Box?

by Mats Tunehag

One can identify 3 essential activities that have helped to catalyze and grow the global Business as Mission (BAM) movement: 1. Developing the concept 2. Spreading the concept and 3. Applying the concept.

Of course one cannot credit just one book, event, person or organization with the current interest in Business as Mission amongst Christians today. BAM is a Biblical concept and thus as old as the foundational stories of creation. It is based on theology and anthropology; who God is and what he does, and who we are as human beings and what we are called to do. Good and godly principles of work and value added processes are found in the first chapters of the book of Genesis. God has used women and men throughout history to serve God and nations in and through business. Read more

Building the Kingdom Through Business

by Bridget Adams and Manoj Raithatha

In his book Screw Business as Usual, Sir Richard Branson outlines his vision for nothing less than global transformation. He asks, ‘Can we bring more meaning to our lives and help change the world at the same time… a whole new way of doing things, solving major problems and turning our working into something we both love and are proud of?” His proposed solution is a new way of doing business. ‘It is time to …shift our values, to switch from a profit focus to caring for people, communities and the planet.’ Sometimes God uses prophets from outside the Church!

The world, it seems, wants business to change. The voices, powerful voices, are being heard out there. The Church, who you might think would be driving this new found hunger for ethics and transformative business, is in danger of being left behind. Branson knows that business can change the world for good, but we believe it can also change the world for God. Business can help build the Kingdom.

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Gleanings: Rediscovering God’s Solutions for Poverty

by Tim Weinhold

Over three thousand years ago God himself preemptively weighed in on one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century — how can we solve poverty?  One of his answers is found in Leviticus 19: 9-10: Gleanings.

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

God mandated that the landed farmers of ancient Israel not reap their fields to the very borders.  They were to leave the edges unharvested so that the poor could come and gather for themselves these set-aside “gleanings”.

From our modern vantage point, gleanings might seem a very quaint idea from a very distant and different past. Gleanings seems to be about making a curious connection between farming and the poor which has little application in today’s modern world.

Hidden beneath its ancient agrarian trappings, however, the gleanings model has much to teach us. There is more wisdom here than meets the eye, wisdom now in urgent need of rediscovery. Two thirds of the world’s people live in poverty.  For one third, subsistence itself is under constant threat.  All this despite an absolutely unprecedented scale and variety of anti-poverty efforts over the last half century. Read more

Making Ice Cream, Making Disciples in Central Asia

James admits, almost as a confession, that he does enjoy a bit of number crunching… “I love taking an idea and turning it into reality,” he says, “I really enjoy the whole process of researching a business idea, doing feasibility studies, analysing the data, crunching the numbers and really trying to figure out whether a business will work!”.

James is the co-owner of an Ice Cream Manufacturing Business in a large city in “Byghistan”, a country in Central Asia. Although James grew up in a family that owned businesses, he didn’t see himself as a business person until recently and has discovered this innate passion for business as he has gone along.

Beginnings

James and his family moved to Byghistan in 2006, with a desire to work for the Gospel amongst an ethnic group indigenous to that particular city. Initially they focused on language learning and becoming established in the country. As their 2 years as language students came to an end, James and his wife began looking for opportunities that would enable them to stay longer. At first they saw running a business primarily as a way to get a longer-term visa and stay in the country, however right from the start they knew the business must be credible. Read more

Kayaking and the Kingdom in Norway

Taking in the View

At the top of the glacier there is a remarkable view…. a breath-taking scape of mountains and ice. Anne regularly leads groups to this beautiful place… and she takes them kayaking, hiking, skiing and caving too! Anne is the owner of small business NorTrex based in Nordland, just inside the Artic Circle in nothern Norway. To Anne the view from the glacier has everything to do with building God’s Kingdom in this beautiful and rugged community.

Anne has a passion for outdoor activities and also for influencing her community for Christ. “To me, being a Christian is about doing whatever you do with great passion and devotion… I really have a deep desire to point people to God by using sports and outdoor activities”.  As a teenager in The Netherlands Anne began to think about how to use outdoor activities to change and influence society and as a result she went to a YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Norway in 2003 that had a focus on the outdoors.

Over the following years as a YWAMer she lead outreaches among skiers and snowboarders. As a qualified guide and outdoor leader she took DTS teams out into the wilds of Nordland to do team building and other outdoor activities.

Getting into Business

Her vision for the local community developed over the years, but initially business was not at the top of Anne’s list of things to do. However, that changed when she got involved with an innovation and entrepreneurship program at a nearby university that required her to write a business plan. “After a while, I realized that a business model might be the best way to achieve the dreams I had for using outdoor activities, it would allow me to get in touch with the community and really make an impact on the region.”  Read more

Total Commitment: Import-Export in China

For 9 years Gabriella and her husband Marco have been successfully exporting goods from China to their native Brazil.  Starting from nothing, they have built up a small company ‘Total Import & Export’, based in China. The company handles research, negotiations, quality control, logistics and shipping arrangements on behalf of their Brazilian clients. Most of their income is generated in commission, as a percentage of the value of the goods exported. Other income sources include the company’s hospitality services and product research services.

To date Gabriella and Marco have exported over 200 containers and have been profitable since the beginning. They export a diverse range of goods, everything from industrial sewing machines to floor tiles, from power tools to fashion accessories. Their company has grown through referrals from existing clients, with recent approaches from new clients in Singapore and the USA, as well as ever growing interest in South America.

However, in the past Gabriella and Marco have been somewhat reluctant to embrace this growth, in fact they have been reluctant business people. Gabriella admits, “I have actually asked some clients to keep quiet about us, I have told them I don’t want the business to grow too much!” However, recently everything has changed and as Gabriella puts it, “I have had my thinking turned completely upside-down.” Read more

The Emergence of the BAM Movement

by Steve Rundle

Not long ago the Wall Street Journal noted a significant change in the attitudes of university business students1. Compared to other incoming classes in recent memory, today’s young people are more interested in using their business skills to make a positive difference in society. Undoubtedly, many have been inspired by social enterprises like Tom’s Shoes, Kiva, and Chipotle’s Mexican Grill, as well as turned off by stories of corporate excess on Wall Street.

In Christian circles we are seeing something very similar. “Business as Mission,” as the name suggests, involves businesses that have a missionary impulse.  Neither motivated by money, nor embarrassed about making it, these enterprises and the entrepreneurs who start them defy easy classification. Like Social Enterprises they are hybrids in their purpose, and in many cases, their organizational structures. The main distinctive is that “Business as Mission” extends beyond addressing the physical needs of the poor (or the ethical treatment of pigs and chickens, as in Chipotle’s case), and includes a desire to make Christ known and see people freed from spiritual bondage.  While social entrepreneurs want to do good for their fellow man, so-called “BAMers” in addition, are motivated by a desire to serve God and draw people’s attention to Him. The Christ-centered nature of BAM is a significant difference that gives rise to different questions and requires a more interdisciplinary approach to the subject.

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Servant Leadership in the Marketplace

by Peter Shaukat

Christians are called by God to bring servant leadership in the marketplace.  There is critical need for servant leadership in the world today and this is especially true of the marketplace where so much of the world’s agenda and the pace for development is set. The marketplace can and should be a primary context for God’s redemptive action.

Although this need to bring servant leadership is not confined to those called to business as mission, it is vital for BAMers to get to grips with our leadership role in the marketplace.

Psalm 78 verse 70 tells us that God chose David to be his servant leader, taking him from tending to sheep to being a shepherd for His people Israel. Verse 72 describes David’s leadership: ‘David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them’. Servant leaders must conduct themselves with integrity, and they must also be competent.

This represents two spheres for servant leadership in a business context: our moral leadership and our operational leadership. Read more