No Such Thing as Instant Fruit: Faithfulness in Business

Should I shut my business down if I’m not seeing spiritual fruit?

Instant milk. That’s how a Brazilian friend recently portrayed the challenge of how our contemporary church culture often trains, and equips us to think about, and plan for results. We mix the powder with the water and voila – we have instant, pat-yourself-on-the-back results. In our instant-everything society, this is how we approach our lives, including ministry and discipleship. The ‘we need numbers for our next board meeting’ mentality, and our leaders ask the questions which help us formulate our approach: How many prayed the prayer, how many attend your fellowship, how many did you baptize? We’ve taken it so far as to expect it is the responsibility of the institutional Church to go make disciples, rather than the mandate given to each of us. We speak in terms of how wide rather than how deep. If we can’t quickly quantify our efforts, then we cannot justify our budgets, or in certain cases even our cross-cultural existence. The danger is that we focus on a formula to acquire souls and are driven by the fear of not reaching our goal, rather than the Spirit of the living God.

Those listed in the ‘hall of fame’ in Hebrews 11 were remembered as having walked in faith – even though they all had failures on their journeys, they were counted as faithful. Yet, they walked, never being assured of what they would see, they only had certainty of their call. They couldn’t focus on the daily bumps in the road and twists and turns in their path, which many times led them astray. They had to keep their eyes on the ultimate prize. Jim Elliot and his companions never lived to see the amazing movement in the lives of the Huaorani people, that was in the timing of God’s plan, not man’s. After tireless work, and despite failing health, William Wilberforce only learned three days before his death of the abolition of slavery in England. The Moravian Church, the oldest Protestant denomination, started a continuous 100-year prayer movement that resulted in the first significant wave of Protestant missionaries being sent to the world. The originators of that movement never experienced the incredible fruit that resulted. Read more

Friday Links: Posts and Resources from the Business World

Every Friday we connect you with some of our recent favourite links. This week:

Posts and resources from mainstream business publications

5 Steps You Must Take Before Becoming an Entrepreneur – Entrepreneur

Starting your own business can reap deep personal and professional rewards, but if you take the leap, your days of punching the clock on a regular schedule will end. If it’s work you love and you crave the freedom of operating under your own steam, starting your own small business will energize your career and make the long hours that await you melt away. But don’t go off half-cocked. Before you quit your day job, here are five steps you should take to ensure you’re ready to go out on your own.

Read more

What is the Sacred-Secular Divide? Watch 3 Short Videos

The sacred-secular divide is an unbiblical way of thinking about the world that pervades the modern church globally. It deeply affects the way we think about business and work and is one of the most frequently mentioned barriers to understanding and engagement in business as mission. In the coming weeks we will hear stories and teaching that will help to break down the sacred-secular divide. These three short videos, each just a few minutes long, will help answer the question, What is the Sacred-Secular Divide?

Mark Greene: Imagine – London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

The sacred-secular divide is the pervasive belief that some things are really important to God, and that other things aren’t… 

Read more

Ask a BAM Mentor: Should I Shut My Business?

Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

Should I shut my business down if I’m not seeing spiritual fruit?

~ In Two Minds

Dear In Two Minds,

I think this is far too simplistic a question. The most obvious oversimplification is “not seeing spiritual fruit”. This begs at least two continuation questions:

What is meant by ‘spiritual fruit’?

Who has the right to demand to ‘see’ fruit and on what timescale?

In response to the first question, the book Fruitfulness on the Frontline by Mark Greene recognises six distinct forms of spiritual fruit, namely:

  • Modelling godly character
  • Making good work
  • Ministering grace and love
  • Moulding Culture
  • Mouthpiece for truth and justice
  • Messenger of the gospel

In contrast to these six, many people would define spiritual fruit as the number of people who have committed their lives to Christ as Saviour. This is fine as far as it goes, but we have to remember that Christ’s disciples are responsible for preaching the gospel and for making disciples. The miraculous transformation between those two is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit and we must never attempt to usurp that responsibility. Read more

Is My Business Going to Be Fruitful This Year? Ask Me in 24 Years

by David Stone

What is the great divide? We categorize certain activities as sacred and others as secular. Orphanage ministry or business activity. Sacred or secular? We are still stuck in the divide!

On a recent trip to Kathmandu, Nepal, I was visiting with a small expat short-term missions team on outreach. Two of the team members felt called to business AND missions. I inquired about their business AND missions activity on outreach. They said they had researched (via the internet) Micro-Enterprise Loan organizations in Nepal for a local Business As Mission company. The BAM company is fighting sex trafficking at the source – the families.

The BAM company wants to provide economic opportunity to keep the families from selling their daughters. The BAM strategy includes opening up new trekking routes into the region. That would require hostels and cafes on the routes. Local families can start businesses that would provide an economic alternative to selling their daughters. The new businesses may require small loans, and they need to know what local lending organization are a good fit.

The two young missionaries identified one local Micro-Enterprise Lending company that warranted further consideration. The following dialogue took place. Read more

Business as Mission: What Do I Have to Offer?

by Larry Sharp

Post first published on the IBEC Ventures Blog, reposted with kind permission.

This question is sometimes asked me by North American kingdom business persons who own or manage businesses: “What can I offer as consultant, advisor, mentor or coach?”  It is a natural question for business persons living and working in a very different context from a business startup in Asia, Africa or the Middle East.

What is business anyway? Is it not something like this: an organization with appropriate management that provides a good or service and is created to earn a profit, serve customers and create jobs, community value and increase wealth? That is universal. Followers of Jesus have an integrated kingdom perspective in all they do (1 Corinthians 10:31) so they operate businesses for the glory of God. Faith is integrated into daily work.

A person who has owned a small or medium-sized business (or has worked in the management of such) has likely learned a great deal about one or more of the following. The things that have been learned can be passed on in a consulting, coaching, teaching or mentoring venue. Read more

Friday Links: Posts and Resources from the BAM Community

Every Friday we connect you with some of our recent favourite links. This week:

Posts and resources from the wider BAM community

The All Important Power of Accountability – Third Path

This last post in the Value to Vision series deals with how to create a culture of accountability because even the very executable plan you read about in the previous post will experience “failure to launch” without accountability. Accountability is exactly what the word says. Account-ability. It’s the ability to give account, to tell the story, to give an update on progress and struggles in executing a responsibility, action plan or project. When I ask someone where they are on a particular task what I’m looking for is information, a story, an update. “I’m here” or “I’m behind” or “I need more resources” or “I could use your input.”

Read more

Business on the Frontiers: Creating Jobs in Nepal

A landlocked nation hedged in by the Himalayas, Nepal is an isolated frontier. With high shipping costs, an unstable government and corruption cascading from the top down, Nepal presents a challenging climate for incoming foreigners to start a business – to put it mildly. Yet there are huge needs and opportunities. There are deep labour issues, with low minimum wages, a societal caste system that gives little hope for advancement, and 40% of the workforce currently unemployed. Many are vulnerable to the deceptive promises offered by human traffickers, whose main target is children from ages 5 to 14 years. Hundreds of thousands of Nepali migrants are already working as migrant laborers in the Middle East, often in dangerous or abusive situations. There is a great need for employment and job creation in Nepal.

Jimmy and Donna

Donna saw Nepal through the eyes of an 8 to 16 year old as she lived out these formative years in Kathmandu with her missionary parents. Returning to the United states she got her Bachelors degree at the University of Colorado and later took classes at Harvard, with a view to eventually work in the nonprofit world. Jimmy grew up in an Air Force family, attended the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) and went on to graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Jimmy and Donna met on a spring break mission trip while Jimmy was at USAFA in Colorado. Altogether Jimmy had 7 years of active duty service, including an assignment teaching at the Air Force Academy. During that time, they also volunteered at a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) training center.

Peter and Marit

Peter’s business story begins with chickens. It was the chickens he raised and sold on a farm growing up, to make his own money, that helped develop his mind for business. From those small beginnings, the seed for business grew and after high school Peter ran a small construction company. Read more

10 Characteristics BAM Recruiters Are Looking For [Infographic]

BAMer Ingredients

Created by Evan McCall for The BAM Review.

With thanks to Peter Shaukat – The Right Ingredients: 10 Essential Characteristics of a BAMer.

The Right Ingredients: 10 Essential Characteristics of a BAMer

Interview with Peter Shaukat – Part 2

With 15 years of experience recruiting for, mentoring, and investing in BAM companies all over the Arab world and Asia, Peter has a unique perspective into Human Resources for business as mission. Continuing our interview, we asked him to share what he sees as essential characteristics of a BAMer.

Tell us more about those character traits or criteria that you identify and look for in a potential BAMer.

This is where the rubber hits the road. We have developed an interesting questionnaire for potential BAM practitioners which get to some of these criteria. Here are ten of the top ranking criteria in our experience:

1. Well-rounded thinking
We look for a genuine, thoughtful understanding of work as ministry, with the experience and capacity to grapple with ethical issues, able to live with a certain degree of ambiguity – i.e. they are not black and white in their thinking.

2. Servant leaders
BAM practitioners, fundamentally, are called by God to a ministry of exercising servant-leadership in the marketplace – the arena which is, in our time, the most influential, agenda-setting nexus of human activity.  Understanding how to be an agent of redemption and transformation in such a context – and bringing some tangible experience to the table in doing so – is indispensable. Read more