Business as Mission and the Global Workplace: Part 2

by Jo Plummer

First published as an Advance Paper for the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum.

Bottom-line thinking

It is becoming more common for companies to plan for positive impact on ‘multiple bottom lines’. Rather than only measuring success as a positive number on the profit and loss statement—ie, the ‘financial bottom line’—businesses around the world are beginning to look for positive impact on social, environmental, and financial bottom lines. Social enterprises now aim to have a positive impact on multiple stakeholders—their employees, suppliers, the community, their customers, etc.—rather than focusing solely on returning financial rewards to shareholders. This ‘cutting-edge thinking’ is rediscovering God’s original design for business.

A business as mission (BAM) company is simply one that embraces all of this thinking about multiple bottom lines and multiple stakeholders. Crucially, it holds that God is the most important Stakeholder in the business, and that the purposes of the company should align with his purposes. Thus, a BAM company is one that thinks about how the whole strategy for the business—and the business model itself—can intentionally integrate mission.

BAM company owners start their businesses for a wide variety of reasons, including: to fight the evils of human trafficking, accelerate the task of reaching the remaining unreached peoples with the gospel, and tackle the problems of social injustice, environmental degradation, and dire poverty, to name a few. Annie started her business in Asia to provide alternative employment for exploited women, Anne started hers in Northern Europe to create jobs and connect with disaffected youth, and Mary started hers in the Middle East to more effectively share the gospel in one of the least-reached nations on earth.

The world is open for business

God has mandated humankind to be good stewards of Creation, to create resources for the good of society, to love God first and then love our neighbor, and to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Thus, a business as mission company includes spiritual transformation as a measure of business success, alongside social, environmental, and economic concerns—and has a special concern for the poor, marginalized, and unreached peoples. Business as Mission is:

  • Profitable and sustainable businesses;
  • Intentional about kingdom of God purpose and impact on people and nations;
  • Focused on holistic transformation and the multiple bottom lines of economic, social, environmental, and spiritual outcomes;
  • Concerned about the world’s poorest and least-evangelized peoples.

Many of the places that the gospel has still to reach are hostile to traditional missionaries, yet business people are welcome nearly everywhere. The world is open for business!

The challenges ahead

Unfortunately, in many parts of the church, we have inherited unbiblical patterns of thinking about work, business, and economics that have affected our attitudes towards the vocation of business. As a consequence, many business people feel that the most ‘spiritual’ thing they can do is to give financially to those doing the ‘real ministry’, and, if they really want to serve God, they should leave their company behind and become a missionary or pastor.

While generosity and a true calling to church leadership is to be commended, this narrow view of the value of business ultimately hinders the work of the gospel. There has been much written about the need to continually break down the false dichotomy between what is considered ‘spiritual work’ and what is considered ‘secular work’—the so-called ‘sacred-secular divide’. Two of our great challenges are, firstly, a dearth of those who are intentionally integrating their Christian faith with their business life and, secondly, a lack of encouragement and equipping for business people to mobilize their effective engagement in mission in the global workplace.

Embracing Christian faith as relevant to the workplace is the first and foundational step. From there we want to exhort business people to ask God where and how he might use their business skills and experience for his glory and his mission. As Pastor J.D. Greear expresses it, ‘Whatever you’re good at, do it well for the glory of God, and do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God.’[2]

A call to the global church

If the Lausanne Movement is centered on its slogan ‘the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world’, then the hope of the business as mission movement is that:

  • ‘the whole church. . .’ will be more whole as we encourage and equip businessmen and women to be involved in the taking; that
  • ‘the whole gospel’ will be more often beautifully demonstrated through for-profit companies: dignified jobs, goods and services, community peace and stability, genuine friendships, the good news of the gospel; and that
  • ‘the whole world’ will be open for business.

In the words of the Business as Mission Manifesto[3]:

We call upon the church worldwide to identify, affirm, pray for, commission and release business people and entrepreneurs to exercise their gifts and calling as business people in the world—among all peoples and to the ends of the earth.

We call upon business people globally to receive this affirmation and to consider how their gifts and experience might be used to help meet the world’s most pressing spiritual and physical needs through Business as Mission.  

 

[2] J.D. Greear. (November 2016). Is God Calling You to Go? The Summit Church Blog. Available at: https://jdgreear.com/blog/is-god-calling-you-to-go/ [Accessed December 2018]. 

[3] The full wording of the Business as Mission Manifesto is available here

 

>>Read Part 1

 


Jo Plummer Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.

 

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 

 

Business as Mission and the Global Workplace: Part 1

by Jo Plummer

First published as an Advance Paper for the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum.

Introduction

Dallas Willard once said that, ‘Business is a primary moving force of the love of God in human history.’[1] Business, done well, is glorifying to God and has enormous potential to do good. Business has an innate God-given power to create dignified jobs, to multiply resources, to provide for families and communities and to push forward innovation and development in human society.

In the global marketplace today, we have an enormous opportunity to leverage this God-given potential of business to address some of the world’s most pressing spiritual, social, environmental, and economic issues. This is ‘business as mission’—a movement of business professionals using the gifts of entrepreneurship and good management to bring creative and long-term, sustainable solutions to global challenges. This movement of business people is growing worldwide; they are serving God in the marketplace and intentionally shaping their businesses for God’s glory, the gospel, and the common good. Business professionals are using their skills to serve people, make a profit, be good stewards of the planet, and align with God’s purposes; they are taking the whole gospel to the ends of the earth.

This paper aims to encourage businesswomen and men—whether entrepreneurs, managers, business professionals, or technical experts—that their gifts, experience, and capacity is a much-needed resource in global mission. In addition, it will exhort church and mission leaders to affirm and equip the business people in their networks and congregations so that they can effectively respond to the challenges in the global workplace today.

God gives us the ability to produce wealth

In Deuteronomy 8 we read that it is God who gives us the ability to produce wealth. He provides abundant natural resources so that we can use our creativity, talents, and hard work to provide for ourselves and innovate for society. Business processes naturally generate wealth and resources; companies are able to create good products and services for the benefit of communities. Business pushes forward innovation, helping societies develop; enterprises bring in new technologies, skills, and training to communities. Business, done well—not forgetting the Lord our God (Deut 8:11)—is glorifying to him.

Although companies sometimes have a bad reputation for environmental damage, corruption and exploitation, we believe that is not the whole story of business. Business has an innate power and God-designed role in society—and like any power, this can be corrupted by sin and greed. That is why God also reminds his people in Deuteronomy 8:11 and 18 not to forget him as they settle down, start businesses, and create wealth in the new land he is giving them.

Harnessing the power of business

Water is a life-giving resource on the earth, essential for human flourishing and ‘good’ just as it is. However, the power and potential of water can also be intentionally harnessed to do even more good, in small or great ways—it can be channeled through an irrigation pipe or can produce hydroelectric power. However, because we live in a sinful world, water can also be poisoned, it can be mismanaged, it can give rise to greed and conflict, or it can be used to do harm.

Business is also a good, God-given tool and resource that can be used for benefit or harm. If the natural role of business in God’s design for humankind is to create jobs, multiply wealth and resources, drive creativity and innovation, and sustainably provide for families, communities and nations, then we can already clearly see the potential of business for God’s kingdom work on earth. Businessmen and women may then intentionally harness this power of business and focus it to sustainably address some of the world’s most pressing problems: environmental crises, joblessness, poverty, slavery, sanitation problems, food security, and so on.

Rediscovering the role of business

This is something the world at large is already waking up to. Terms like ‘social entrepreneurship’, ‘shared value’, and ‘conscious capitalism’ are becoming common currency as society re-evaluates the role of business. There is a growing understanding that ‘doing well’ and ‘doing good’ need not be mutually exclusive; that as we create products that are good for society and meet human needs, then that will also be good for business.

The essential role of business people in the Body of Christ is also being rediscovered by the church. Not only is business know-how valuable for churches and Christian organizations everywhere, but business people and business skills are some of the most needed resources in global mission today.

Business at the heart of communities

In every village, town and city in the world, businesses are at the heart of the community; that is true in Kenya, Canada, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cambodia and Iran! Business people have an influential role in a community, creating jobs, meeting real needs, and building a strong network of relationships.

People spend more of their waking hours at work than anywhere else. Deep relationships can be formed and biblical principles can be modelled in the crucible of daily business life, creating a company culture that reflects Jesus. Jobs with real dignity and excellent products and services bring economic stability to families and communities. Being in business can bring a position of influence with local community and government leaders. Business people are able to share the gospel in word and deed in the context of everyday life.

Companies are also able to impart training and build leadership skills that can strengthen the church and society at large. Alongside the traditional roles of pastor and missionary, business leaders provide a model for new believers of vibrant Christian life in the marketplace.

 

[1] Dr. Dallas Willard. (September 2011). In a panel response during the Leadership Lecture Series Biblical Wisdom for the Business World, Biola University. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkdwsHbVj3g [Accessed November 2018].

 

>>Read Part 2

 


Jo Plummer Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.

 

 

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

 

 

How Business as Mission Can Help End Poverty for Good

by Doug Seebeck

The Business as Mission movement has made remarkable advances over the past 20 years. It is a powerful movement that affirms God’s call to business and the central role of business in missions and insists that business is critical to the redemptive work of God in the world and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

While there is much to celebrate, now is the time for a rallying cry for what can and must be done in the 20 years ahead of us. Indeed, the health of our planet, the flourishing of our neighbors, and the integrity of the Gospel itself depend upon our concerted focus and action. And that focus is the end of extreme global poverty as we know it today. To this end, we need the Business as Mission movement to serve those at the bottom of the pyramid who are scraping by on less than $2 per day.

Our vision at Partners Worldwide is to see the end of poverty so that all may have life, and have it abundantly. This is a grand, audacious goal we know we can’t accomplish alone. And yet, for the first time in human history, the number of our fellow human beings who face extreme poverty has fallen to under 10 percent. The latest figures from World Bank suggest the extreme poverty rate fell to 8.6 percent last year—a rapid decrease from 36 percent in 1990. It is truly amazing!  Read more

3 Reasons to Scale Your Business to Reach the Unreached

by Mike Baer

In all entrepreneurial circles, the hot topic is “How to scale the business.” How do we take our company from me (and possibly a few others) to many? How do we add more employees? Customers? Lines of business? Locations? Profits?

Scaling in General

“Scale or Die” is the cry that comes from many startups and from virtually all investors. Growth is an evidence of life and health. Healthy companies grow. But it’s not easy, especially in a business as mission endeavor.

Where will you find the funding to expand? Bootstrapping or “cash-flowing” expansion is extremely difficult and tediously slow.

What about managers sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable to lead a larger business who also share your faith and focus? Where will you find them? How will you pay them? Who will move to your location? Do you use locals? Expats?

And, most importantly, what about your own experience or lack thereof? If you’ve never done it before, it’s daunting and difficult to say the least! The overwhelming majority of startups fail to scale.  Read more

Solving Global Issues with Innovative BAM Solutions

by Jo Plummer & Mats Tunehag

This post is the third in a series of three that share the BAM Global Big Hairy Audacious Goals – our ‘BHAGs’ for the global business as mission movement. BAM Global is one of the founding partners of this website and aims to be a catalyst for connection and communication across the BAM community. These goals are not ones we expect to accomplish by ourselves, instead they drive our mission to invigorate the BAM movement – to strengthen and enrich this community so that the hundreds and thousands of companies, networks, agencies, churches, institutions, etc. in the movement see these BHAGs realised together.

The BHAG: Solve global issues with innovative BAM solutions

Business as mission is about serving God and people, seeking holistic transformation through business. We know that businesses are strong transformational agents and they can bring solutions to many human problems and needs.

The biggest lift out of poverty in the history of mankind has taken place in our generation. This has happened not through aid but trade – through businesses – especially small and medium sized companies. Financial wealth has been created through business, but so has physical wealth (health, medicines, etc.), cultural wealth (books, theatres, museums, etc.), and many other kids of wealth. Wealth creation through business and job creation has been and continues to be a key driver for welcome progress in society.  Read more

Reaching a Tipping Point for Macro Impact Through BAM Businesses

by Jo Plummer & Mats Tunehag

This post is the second in a series of three that share the BAM Global Big Hairy Audacious Goals – our ‘BHAGs’ for the global business as mission movement. BAM Global is one of the founding partners of this website and aims to be a catalyst for connection and communication across the BAM community. These goals are not ones we expect to accomplish by ourselves, instead they drive our mission to invigorate the BAM movement – to strengthen and enrich this community so that the hundreds and thousands of companies, networks, agencies, churches, institutions, etc. in the movement see these BHAGs realised together.

The BHAG: Reach a tipping point for macro impact through BAM businesses

The global BAM movement has grown rapidly in the last 20-plus years. There are now thousands of BAM businesses, and countless BAM-related initiatives in businesses, churches, missions and academia. As a growing number of business people follow Jesus in the marketplace and shape their businesses for God’s glory and the common good, they will have a positive impact on the financial, social, environmental and spiritual well-being of people and societies.

Through the BAM Think Tank processes we have documented significant holistic transformation taking place through companies, affecting many stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, neighbours, officials, etc. – and on many levels. The BAM ecosystem is now large, varied and global, and has the hallmarks of a true movement. This is a positive growth and a strength.  Read more

Transforming Views of Business in the Church Worldwide

by Jo Plummer & Mats Tunehag

This post is the first in a series of three that share the BAM Global Big Hairy Audacious Goals – our ‘BHAGs’ for the global business as mission movement. BAM Global is one of the founding partners of this website and aims to be a catalyst for connection and communication across the BAM community. These goals are not ones we expect to accomplish by ourselves, instead they drive our mission to invigorate the BAM movement – to strengthen and enrich this community so that the hundreds and thousands of companies, networks, agencies, churches, institutions, etc. in the movement see these BHAGs realised together.

The BHAG: Transform views on business in the church worldwide

Business as mission is not simply a method or strategy; it encompasses a worldview and business praxis based on biblical principles and the church’s teaching. The sacred-secular divide is still permeating the church. What is considered ‘sacred’ (worship, faith, church activities, etc.) is often judged to be more valuable that the ‘secular’ (work, business, material goods, etc.) The clergy (pastor, missionary, etc.) are considered to have a higher calling than the laity (teacher, business professional, lawyer, etc.). This is still a dominating paradigm among many Christians around the globe.

As a consequence, business people and professionals in the church do not fully understand that their gifts, skills and experience are vital to God’s kingdom work on earth. Many feel that the most ‘spiritual’ thing they can do is to give financially to those doing the ‘real ministry’, and, if they really want to serve God, they should leave their company behind and become a missionary or pastor. While generosity and a true calling to church leadership is to be commended, this narrow view of the value of business ultimately hinders the mission of the church.  Read more

Business as Mission: The Global Movement Today

While we are on the topic this month of ‘looking back in order to move forward’, we repost this interview with Mats Tunehag from 2015 outlining some of the developments Mats had seen in the BAM movement up until that point.

Mats Tunehag has been speaking, writing and convening on business as mission for nearly 20 years. When he visited The BAM Review office recently*, we asked him a few questions about the business as mission movement.

Mats, what have you seen changing in business as mission in the last 15-20 years?

We are seeing a reawakening of what it means to be a Christian in business in our day and age. There has been remarkable growth of people getting engaged in doing business for God and the common good. If we take a 15 year time span, there are things we have today that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Now, we have a greater common understanding globally of this idea that we call ‘business as mission’. There are significant common denominators in our understanding, even though terminology may vary from group to group.

15 years ago when you mentioned business as mission, there were many questions about ‘What is that?’, ‘Is this something we want to get involved in?’. Today you can travel to almost any country and bump into people who have heard of, or are talking about, or practicing, business as mission. That is one of the major changes globally. Read more

Reasons to Celebrate! Growth of BAM Over the Last 20 Years

by Jo Plummer

This year marks around 20 years since the term ‘Business as Mission’ was first used and discussed amongst a growing group of like-minded people around the world. At the very end of the 1990s and the early 2000s, there was a burst of activity around BAM: Consultations, Conferences, Books, Articles, the first Websites etc. – and this kick-started greater momentum in the BAM movement, which has been growing to this day.

We are exploring the theme ‘where we’ve got to and where we still need to go’ on The BAM Review blog in the coming months. You can read the introduction post ‘10 Pressing Issues to Address in BAM in the Next 20 Years’ for more about the topics we’ll be covering during this series.

Before we dive into the challenges ahead, we asked some of the same BAM Leaders to share their view on what progress we can celebrate in the BAM movement over the last 20 years or so. What are some wins, or significant growth areas that we should note and be thankful for?

Reasons to Celebrate: BAM Leaders Reflect

The movement has gained traction. People now understand the legitimacy and role of BAM in particular and the calling of business in general for the Great Commission. New organizations have been founded to address the gaps in the BAM movement such as mentoring, funding, events for promoting and networking, etc. More established older organizations have begun embracing BAM ministry by starting a division, department or group focused on BAM. The biggest win for me is the wider acceptance of BAM as a way to impact the world for Christ by the global Church (with a capital C). We still have a ways to go, but the progress has been significant. God has used the BAM movement to move the needle. – Joseph Vijayam, BAM Practitioner & Lausanne Catalyst  Read more

10 Pressing Issues to Address in BAM in the Next 20 Years

by Jo Plummer

This year marks around 20 years since the term ‘Business as Mission’ was first used and discussed amongst a growing group of like-minded people around the world. Of course, there were pioneer BAM models before that time, not to mention the fact that business and mission have been integrated in many different ways since Paul the Apostle made tents! However, for this modern iteration, the cohesion and an international conversation around this concept really started around 20 years ago.

I like to think of this pioneer generation and what has followed as ‘BAM 1.0’. It is amazing to reflect on all God has done in our global community in the past couple of decades! Now, as we look forward to the future, we want to explore the theme of ‘BAM 2.0’ for a new series of posts on The BAM Review blog. In the coming months, we’ll discover where we’ve got to and the issues we still face for the future.

To prepare for this series, we asked 20 leaders who have been engaged in business as mission for between 10 and 35 years to tell us what they believe are the most pressing issues we must address if the BAM movement is to be even more fruitful for the next 20 years… and beyond! While this isn’t a scientific survey across the entire BAM community, it does represent wisdom from a collection of leaders who have served long in our movement.

Here are the 10 overarching issues that were identified by these leaders, in no particular order:  Read more