We asked eight people who have got involved in BAM in the last 5 years to share how they got launched and how well they landed. We asked them:
- What helped propel you towards business as mission?
- Was there anything that held you back that you had to overcome?
- What were some of the most important things you did to prepare to launch?
- Did any gaps in your know-how or preparation come to light as you landed?
Part 2: Was there anything that held you back that you had to overcome?
We didn’t feel anything holding us back because we were at a point in our lives where we felt called to go and God had already blessed us with the the means and desire. The only thing that we had to work out as a family was to be unified on where to go. If you have a desire to go, just go! Be diligent in laying down a strong foundation, work hard everyday and be intentional about building relationships. In all this, never forget why you are doing it and who you are doing it for. – Ben and Yumi, Vietnam [have been operating a software development company for 18 months, before that they spent 10 months intentionally preparing to do BAM, 4 months in their home country and 6 months in Vietnam]
I think lack of clarity was a big obstacle. I had the idea but it was not defined and was not clear so I couldn’t act on it. Coming in contact with literature that prepared my mind was instrumental in shifting my thinking. Also practice is hard to change. Changing direction requires changing culture and habits – organizational resistance is a major hindrance many times. – Daniel, Haiti [transitioned his company to being a BAM-focused company 2 ½ years ago, he spent 2 years before that preparing to do BAM]
I partly had to retrain myself on not separating the workplace from a place where ministry could be done. However, the company I work for does that so well that they taught me that it could be done. Adding a cross-cultural environment to the mix is also extremely challenging because the same things or practices that work at home aren’t necessarily what will work in a new country. BAM isn’t the answer to missions or for everyone out there, but it is a way for those who want to use their God given skills to legitimately create value for communities, markets, and people – with a focus on bringing the transformation of Jesus Christ to their sphere of influence and workplace. – Jacob, Nepal [has been working for PacMoore in Kathmandu, Nepal for 3 ½ years, after 2 years of God preparing him to go]
In our context in Thailand, language is a prerequisite. So, we spent almost two years studying language full time. Following that we were held back by the legal system and bureaucratic red tape. We also had to work through a lot of personality issues and ideals between our team members. – Steven, Thailand [co-founded a BAM company 3 years ago, after 2 years of language learning, he spent 5 years before that growing a startup and getting ready to go overseas]
A major setback was that we started as an aid project and it was nigh-on impossible to change that mindset to a business mindset.. even in ourselves! That was the hardest work of all! To be honest we are just now really getting to do in business in the truest sense of the word. – Julia, Mongolia [has been doing BAM for 3 years ‘on purpose’ in Mongolia after 18 months of working on a not-so-BAM-intentional version of the cafe]
For me fear of failure or making a mistake was a big factor. I had worked in a “safe” corporate job for 6+ years and quitting felt like jumping off of a ledge, especially when many of my friends were laying down deeper roots and designing their lifestyles for security, safety, and pleasure. – Evan, Thailand [is now transitioning to work at management level in a BAM company after working in BAM mobilising and training for 2 years]
In Brazil, the sacred-secular divide mentality is very strong. Most of Christians believe that to serve God is to serve at church. Nobody says that a businessman could be used by God and have a higher impact for the Kingdom at your company than at church. Another difficulty is that talking about business or money is an issue in the church. Talking about mission is very difficult in most cases, there is little interest. Talking about business and mission at same time is much tougher. The old paradigm for mission is very strong. Many leaders are now beginning to understand that the BAM movement is strategic for the future of the Brazilian missionary movement. However, it will take time for the Brazilian Church to fully comprehend business as mission. – Sergio, Brazil [is employed in a large corporation and has also been working in a BAM mobilisation team since he heard about BAM, he and his wife are now intentionally preparing to be practitioners]
I started off with a passion to coach or consult to those launching startups or already existing businesses. The model for that was pretty much non existent for the most part. After working with a very fast paced and influential BAM practitioner at the executive level my barriers to entry in that area are now much lower. – Evan, USA [recently moved back to the USA to work in a University setting after working in management in a BAM company in Nepal for 3 years]
by 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.
With thanks to the BAM practitioners who shared their experiences