Messy Site, Messy Company: Aiming for Environmental Excellence

by Mark Polet

When it comes to running a good business, cleanliness really is next to godliness.

I want to explore with you why you who are pursuing excellence in business need to weave good environmental practice into your operations.

Messy Site, Messy Company

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company. Because poor environmental practice is often quite visible in a disorderly site and disorganized operations, it is often the most evident warning bell to any investor or customer that something is wrong with this firm.

Why do I stay that? After over forty years of assessing companies for environmental excellence, including Kingdom-Oriented firms, there is one correlation in my experience that always holds.

If the site is a mess, the accounting is a mess.

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company.

A messy site means messed up books. I have reviewed firms across a score of industry groups. At times I will come across a  company that has an unkempt site. Sometimes it is debris lying around; other times it is  far worse, with spills contaminating the soil. In all cases, I find as I continue my audit that their financial records are equally messy, and their regulatory compliance is spotty at best. The management of their supply chain was poor. The amount of waste they generate, both in lost productivity and actual, physical waste, is evident.

Overwhelmed Entrepreneurs vs Chronic Issues

I am not talking about short-term problems. An overwhelmed entrepreneur, under capitalized and under resourced, struggles to keep his or her hand on all aspects of the business, but eventually brings things under control. That’s not unlike many of us letting our house get messy when things are busy, but catching up later.

In contrast, long-term messy companies have chronic issues. In all cases, a lack of discipline is apparent. The sites show a chronic, consistent mismanagement. The books show the same lack of management or analysis of cash flow. The approach to employee-care and safety is ad hoc. Often the firms are unaware of regulatory requirements, let alone complying with them.

A Four-stranded Rope

What advantage do we have as a Kingdom company? We believe in a wholistic Gospel, that our service and gratitude for what God did for us compels us to excellence in all aspects of life. As Stewards, we do not want to mess up what God has given us. We also want to be Light. The Light does not shine brightly when muck covers the bulb.

As proclaimers of a wholistic Gospel, we often split our outcomes into four bottom lines: Environmental, Social, Spiritual and Financial. But these bottom lines are not discrete. They are more like a four stranded rope, if one frays, the whole rope breaks.

With proper financial reporting, Terri was able to work with the owner to resurrect the board and improve governance. The board members were able to see in part how the company was doing because they had good financial records to review.

Here’s how it can work in practice. My wife Terri and I work as operational contractors for Kingdom businesses in challenging places. This means we stay for extended periods to help strengthen their four-stranded rope. In one company we served, the critical issue was the state of the financial books. Two years of hard work finally brought the books into line. With proper financial reporting, Terri was able to work with the owner to resurrect the board and improve governance. The board members were able to see in part how the company was doing because they had good financial records to review. They could then provide better guidance.

Tangible Results

The guidance from the board led in part to a new approach on the ministry plan where the focus shifted to employee-care. That resulted in developing a health plan, bringing people on as employees from being contractors so that they could receive benefits, and developing a human resources manual, policies and formal assessment programme so that each staff could blossom.

Having a focus on employee care meant we could improve safety and occupational health. Having good books means we could know what was in inventory. We cleaned up the physical space and started recording the hazards of the chemicals used while developing safe practices for their use. Cleaning up the warehouse meant a safer, cleaner place to work, and staff and the environment were protected from spills and misuse of hazardous chemicals.  This combined effort on financial, social, spiritual and environmental issues was not sequential, but very much like braiding, where lifting one strand allowed us to weave in another one.

We saw tangible results. One benefit was increased staff loyalty, one staff member stayed with this company rather than accepting a better paying job with a major international organisation because, she said,  ‘you (the company) take care of me’. The Kingdom business showed love, care and concern by providing a clean, safe, caring environment in which this person could blossom. She had a firm rope to grasp, with strong social, environmental, spiritual and environmental strands. She saw the Light shining.

This combined effort on financial, social, spiritual and environmental issues was not sequential, but very much like braiding, where lifting one strand allowed us to weave in another one.

Our hope in the BAM Global Creation Care Group* is to make good environmental practice good company practice; that Kingdom companies do not see four strands, but one rope. As we prepare for the BAM Global Congress 2020, we will continue to provide Kingdom companies with maxims and practical advice.

Whether you are a business owner, mentor, governor or investor, you have a responsibility to keep the company clean, and in so doing keep the earth clean. There is joy of being a good Steward and a wise businessperson committed to sharing the Light. A clean company is a well-run company.

 

Read more on the topic of Environment and Creation Care in BAM:

>>  Should Environmental Concerns Be a Priority?

>>  Tikkun Olam: How Companies Can Repair the World

>>  What If? Business Solutions to Environmental Problems

>>  Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation

 

*A BAM Global Creation Care Consultation is currently underway which will present its findings at the BAM Global Congress in 2020.

 

 

mark polet july 2018 031Mark Polet is a professional biologist with over 40 years of experience. Working on four continents, Mark and his wife Terri bridge cultures and traditions with people of good will to serve those who are spiritually and materially impoverished. Mark is passionate about bringing engineers, scientists, and business together to develop solutions to challenging environmental issues. Mark has the privilege to coordinate the BAM Global Creation Care Consultation. Prior to working in the impact business space, Mark & Terri owned a number of companies, including an environmental services company and an environmental consultancy.

 

 

Banner Photo by sol on Unsplash

Profile photo by Lucie Leduc

 

55+ BAM Job Opportunities Around the World

Each quarter we post an updated list of BAM Job Opportunities on The BAM Review. Welcome to the September 2019 edition.

 

NEW: Early Childhood Pre-school Teacher – Alabaster Project in West Africa

Alabaster Project is a Christian mission organization currently established in three countries. It is located and works among the unreached people groups of West and North Africa. One of it’s strategies is to use education as a springboard to sharing the gospel and discipleship opportunities. We have a teaching opportunity available for an early childhood education (Pre-school) practitioner. This opportunity is available on a short term (3 months) or long term (multiple years) basis. Those interested please contact us by email for further details. Contact Email
 

Marketing and Sales Team Leader – Purnaa in Nepal

Purnaa is an ethical cut-and-sew manufacturer based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Our mission is to provide world-class, ethical manufacturing that empowers marginalized people and survivors of exploitation to fresh starts and fulfilled lives. The job purpose will be to increase Purnaa sales by effectively leading the marketing and sales team to finding new contract sewing clients. As the marketing and sales team leader, you lead Purnaa’s marketing and sales efforts. You are an enthusiastic, motivated, and confident individual, passionate about results and growth. You can identify the right opportunities and enjoy connecting with potential clients. You can think strategically and manage a team, that includes a US business development manage, a local sales coordinator, and communications manager and help them be successful. Download Job Description 

 

Various Positions – Handmade Production Company in South Asia

We are a business located in South Asia that is passionate to create employment for women at risk and survivors of trafficking. Through our non profit affiliate we provide a path to employment to ensure that women and children never face the threat of human trafficking again. Our company provides safe and secure employment, on site daycare facilities, and wrap around support allowing each woman to build a bright future for herself and her children. Every day we observe the transforming power of hope and love through employment. We are inviting someone with strong marketing and fundraising skills to grow and improve our production in order to provide more opportunities of freedom and hope to women and children. We currently are seeking people for the following roles:

Fundraising and Marketing Manager: Develop fundraising tools and strategies for our non profit, while also supporting staff to promote and sell our products and services in order to create holistic services and employment for survivors. More information

Product Designer: Design new products and services, including developing technical sheets, training procedures, and product promotions in order to create employment for survivors. More information

 

Various Positions – Small Business Projects in East Asia

A great opportunity to do pioneering work in a remote part of East Asia in a cluster of business projects based both in a small city and the nearby rural areas. Job openings include:

English Teachers: Great opportunity to live in a city to work with children in a rural area as part of an Education Company. Must have an undergraduate degree, be adaptable and ready to work hard.

Bookkeeper & Administrator: Looking for an administrative person with a vision for training, a love for integrity in the area of accounting and a passion to model both practical know-how and values to nationals

Project Manager: In need of a competent project manager to work on a variety of small business projects in rural East Asia.

Contact email

 

Various Positions – Woodwork Manufacturing in East Asia

A small luxury woodwork manufacturer with 30 years experience (10+ in E Asia) Company is developing their small factory into a tight Lean system that will be duplicated exactly with small factories in other markets in Muslim areas of East and Central Asia. The company produces in Asia and sells in Asia using American hardwoods. Open positions include: Operations ManagerManufacturing Engineer, a 3D CAD / CAM / CNC Operator, and tailor made Internships for 2 months to 2 years. Contact Email

 

Various Positions – IT Company in North India

Envision yourself as part of a team built on the foundation of servant leadership, where we intentionally support each other in growth as individuals and a company. Since 2001, we have been working in India providing businesses in the West affordable and quality IT resources to keep their companies growing, while creating local jobs that build team direction and personal growth.  We’d love for you to bring your skills and leadership to our team, accelerating our growth so that we can impact more lives globally.

Business Development: Acts as the lungs of our business, working strategically to qualify and turn prospects into long term clients. This person works from their home office (or co-working space) closing deals that will be delivered by our software teams in India. Download job description| Apply Online

Account Manager: Grows trustful relationship with our clients in order to create multi-project, mutually fruitful relationships. Focuses on staging the projects and coaching the delivery team toward success in our offices in India. Download job description | Apply Online

Technologist in India: Works closely with our development and testing teams in India to encourage continuous learning and quality products via strategic processes. Download job description | Apply Online

College Student Intern in India: Soaks up an immersive multicultural experience along with the most practical real-life education on the market—all while creating value and becoming an integral part of our team. Download job description | Apply Online

Gap Year Internship in India: Acts as a Jack-of-all-Trades by flexibly taking on different responsibilities and projects throughout the entire company, providing real value while also gaining multicultural experience in the many different components of business. Download job description | Apply Online

 

Account Director – Software Development Company in Vietnam

We are an IT outsourcing company located in SE Asia and are currently looking to hire for various positions to join our growing team. We are looking for people who can also take an active role in discipling our staff and interns. Previous work experience is important but we are open to training and working with individuals if we feel that they have the right heart and personality fit for our company. The Account Director maintains and expands client relationship by ensuring projects are executed and delivered in a way that meets the customer’s needs and expectations. This position is also responsible for building strategic account plans and making sure these account objectives are met. Link to job description

 

Positions in Multiple Companies – Transformational SME

Transformational SME is a global community that assists Christian-owned and managed small-to-medium size enterprises (SMEs) to grow in size, profitability and wholistic impact across North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Transformational SME helps companies to identify, recruit, deploy and support entrepreneurs, managers and other professionals for strategic roles. Whether your strength is business management, people development or you have a passion for maximizing business and manufacturing processes, business as mission has something for you!  Most companies have need for competent people with business skills to manage growth and impact. Using your transferable skills and passionate spirit for the Kingdom of God, you can contribute to the wholistic impact of an existing BAM company across North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. For an exploratory conversation contact: TransformationalSME@gmail.com

Microcredit Company – Central Asia

The company began by experimenting with small loans for business development 20 years ago and has turned into a profitable and growing company of 80 staff in 7 branches. It has 4500 active clients and close to $3M in loans outstanding. These loans help farmers and business people expand business and create jobs in a creative access country in Central Asia. They are currently recruiting for the following roles:

Finance/Accounting Manager – 2+ years

Manager of Operations, Sales and Marketing – 2+ years

IT Specialist/Programmer – A short-term (1-2 month) commitment would be considered for this role

Contact Email 

Goat Dairy – Southeast Asia

This Goat Dairy Company has leveraged a technologically innovative and scalable model for producing shelf stable goat milk and related products at commercially significant volumes to meet the demand of an existing and dynamically expanding market.  The farm’s milking operations, processing and packaging is done on site.  The Company aims to address poverty and human trafficking in the communities in which it operates by creating sustainable income-generating opportunities for the rural poor. 

Farm Manager – The company is in a period of rapid growth and recruiting for a Farm Manager with experience in any commercial dairy farm management. Language learning is recommended. The candidate should hold a degree in farm management or 3-5 years’ experience. An in-country salary will be paid based on experience.  Some fund raising may be necessary. 

Head of Herd Reproductive and Health Services – The qualified candidate should be a Vet, Vet Tech, Animal Scientist or have required practical experience in developing and implementing herd health protocols and artificial insemination in dairy animals; small ruminants preferred, but not required. Language learning is recommended. An in-country salary will be paid based on experience.  Some fund raising may be necessary.

Contact Email   Read more

Should Environmental Concerns Be a Priority for a Christian Business Owner?

In June this year, the Lausanne Movement gathered more than 700 Christian leaders from 109 nations in Manila for its Global Workplace Forum. Among the many topics discussed was where creation care should rank among other Christian concerns like evangelism and discipleship.

Should environmental concerns be a major priority for a Christian business owner? Here are the answers of Lausanne leaders:

 

Ed Brown, executive director of Care of Creation and Lausanne Catalyst for Creation Care (United States):

Yes! Without question, for two reasons. The first is uniquely Christian: obedience. Taking care of God’s world by responsibly caring for God’s creatures (Genesis 1) and by “tending the garden” (Genesis 2) was our first assignment from God. Lausanne’s Cape Town Commitment appropriately calls caring for God’s world “a gospel issue under the lordship of Christ.” This first task has never been taken away from us. Christian business owners are to be more than sound financial stewards and Christlike shepherds of our workforce; we’re called to be keepers of God’s garden.

The second is not uniquely Christian, but important nonetheless: survival. Business owners need to be concerned for the survival of the business, but also for the survival of the human race, including their community, customer base, and their own children and grandchildren. Yes, profit is needed for economic survival, but profit can’t be made in a collapsing world. Economic activity is a root cause of the environmental crisis, and wise businesspeople recognize that environmental collapse threatens their own business’ future, as well as the lives of their own grandchildren. Those who can run their businesses in ways that do not damage God’s creation will both survive and prosper.

 

Las Newman, Lausanne’s Global Associate Director for Regions (Jamaica):

Yes. Good business makes good sense. How can a Christian business operator witness for Christ and at the same time abuse his workers, short-change his customers, ignore environmental standards, contribute to environmental pollution, and affect the ecological balance of nature? Good business depends on three things: profitability that ensures return on investment for growth and development; care for the welfare of the people who help to produce such return on investment (i.e., workers and customers); and good environment for business that enhances the quality of human life and honors the Lord. Business operators in the aviation, food handling, transportation, tourism, earth extractive, manufacturing, and retail industries, among others, now recognize the importance of corporate social responsibility and include a green policy agenda to their business, including support of the arts.

Environmental concerns should be a major priority for a Christian business owner because of these three bottom lines of good business. This is the mandate of Micah 6:8. It means monitoring environmental standards surrounding the business, watching out for air and water quality, energy consumption, avoiding environmental exploitation and degradation of the environment, checking carbon footprint, etc. Green policy is good business. This is creation care. It should be given top priority along with other Christian concerns that promote and advance the gospel.

 

Graham Hooper, independent infrastructure consultant and author (Australia):

Yes. Let me start at the lowest common denominator. First, businesses (Christian or otherwise) are required to comply with environmental law. There is a basic compliance requirement on business owners and managers. Second, good businesses implement sustainability strategies and practices which go well beyond “box-ticking” compliance. Some become leaders in environmental management and remediation. Third, smart businesses also look for the “sweet spot” between good environmental practice and sustainable, profitable work which grows the business, provides employment, and generates economic growth. For the Christian, there are some overriding biblical truths: This is God’s world and he made it.

We are only on this earth for awhile; stewards entrusted to use and care for God’s creation in all its beauty and diversity. We live in a flawed world where human greed degrades the environment. How can we keep on trashing what God has made? Our relationship with God, with our fellow humans, and with all the creation are inextricably linked. The way we treat the environment is not therefore a mere side issue in Christian faith. By acting in a way which demonstrates these truths, Christian businesses have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to be much more than law abiding, smart, and profitable, but also to honor God the Creator in the way they do business.

>> Read all responses from leaders…

 

 

Read more on the topic of Environment and Creation Care in BAM:

>>  Tikkun Olam: How Companies Can Repair the World

>>  Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation

With thanks to Christianity Today for kind permission to post an excerpt of this article. Read original published article in full here.

 

Photo by Gustavo Quepón on Unsplash

 

 

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

 

 

What is Success? Advancing Spiritual Impact in BAM: Best of BAM Blog

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. Each year we do a summer roundup of articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Tom

It is easy to be confused by how success in business as mission (BAM) is defined today from a spiritual perspective.

Once-upon-a-time the core concept of BAM was to have a spiritual impact. The reality that a business needed to be profitable should also have been a given, after all, a business that does not make money can’t survive or, as we say in BAM, cannot be sustainable. Even with this relative simplicity, being able to measure spiritual impact seemed elusive.

Early definitions struggled between Business AS Mission and Business FOR Mission both of which held that a central purpose was spiritual transformation. Early theological debates centered around the secular-sacred divide, could business even be spiritual? There were common perceptions of money and profit, often portrayed as evil and exploitive among Christians, that needed to be overcome. Business AS Mission assumed that when operations aligned with spiritual values, businesses could and would produce spiritual results when driven by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Business FOR Mission simply used the profits of a business to support traditional missional activity.

Today the definition of BAM has expanded to include an emphasis on poverty alleviation and job creation etc., issues that are also popular in the secular social enterprise world. However, one danger we face is that while we are expanding, we might also lose what makes us distinctive, appearing to put less and less emphasis on spirituality or spiritual impact. Yet, without intentional spiritual impact BAM is not any different than any well-meaning secular program.

Twenty years on from the early days of the business as mission movement, we continue to wrestle with this topic of spiritual impact in BAM!  Read more

10 Pressing Issues to Address in BAM in the Next 20 Years: Best of BAM Blog

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. Each year we do a summer roundup of articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is the “Most Popular Post” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

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

3 Reasons to Scale Your Business to Reach the Unreached: Best of BAM Blog

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. Each year we do a summer roundup of articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is our second “Staff Pick” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

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

How Business as Mission Can Help End Poverty for Good: Best of BAM Blog

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. Each year we do a summer roundup of articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is our first “Staff Pick” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

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

Thriving vs Surviving: Building Skills and Support for BAMers

by Robert Andrews

Editors Note: When we asked veteran BAM leaders to identify some of the pressing issues that are facing the business as mission movement in the next decade, among the issues they identified were several areas that could broadly be categorized as ‘resource gaps for BAM companies’, including:

1. Adequate financial capital flow.

2. Adequate human capital flow – both in terms of a) recruiting the right kind of people to begin and sustain a BAM company, and b) succession planning and the successful transition of a BAM company from one generation of owners to another.

3. Adequate support for BAM practitioners, especially mentoring, accountability and care.

We have been posting articles covering each of these issues during the month of June, this week concluding with providing adequate support for BAMers.

Building Adequate Skills and Support for BAM Practitioners

There are many challenges facing the BAM community and it’s encouraging to see so much effort going to understanding and addressing these. One of the thornier issues is how best to support BAM practitioners in their work. These can be nationals trying to build the Kingdom in their home countries or foreigners who have committed to business in a cross-cultural setting. Both need support, but what support to give and how to give it is a current and urgent discussion.

Leading a BAM business requires a large set of skills, some of which one hopes the BAMer has at the outset, but many of which will have to be learned, hired, purchased, or borrowed from others. A beginning list of these skills could fall under the following headings:

  • General business:  finance, marketing, sales, HR, strategy, operations, business law; the stuff of an MBA
  • Industry specific:  how to make the product or deliver the service, the industry sales and pricing dynamics, and familiarity with the global market leaders
  • BAM general:  the theology of BAM and an understanding of how to make a spiritual impact while operating a business, plus access to a BAM network
  • Country/Region specific:  language, culture, worldview, local religion, local political, social or environmental issues, local business practices and law; plus the local spiritual dynamics, the status & challenges of the local church, and an awareness of what God is doing in the region
  • Personal/Family: emotional intelligence, strong personal spiritual life, character, care for family members, marital strength, physical health and habits

Establishing a Network of Support

Skill in these areas isn’t something that can be addressed by a seminar or a book. Much of it requires years of experience, especially the aspects relating to worldview and the spiritual dynamics of the region. I recommend setting up a network of support to ensure all these areas are addressed.  Read more