Posts

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

Twenty years ago, in our Middle Eastern country, BAM was a marginal ministry that most of the mission community saw as a bit sketchy, something that may be okay, but wouldn’t really make an important difference for the kingdom. Today almost every mission organisation sees some sort of BAM or professional occupation as a critical dimension of their ministries. While a few still see it as the only way to get a visa, more and more are understanding not only the validity of the model, but the absolute necessity of living a life here to which the national church can aspire. In our country, most of the capable national believers are drawn to foreign-funded ministries and need instead to be equipped to work in the secular world, understanding they can be agents for change in a dark place. – Robert Andrews, BAM Practitioner & Mentor

The profile of the BAM movement has increased. The movement has visibility, with conferences, books, and articles and some high profile Christian speakers have spoken out for our cause. The philosophy of BAM has developed, there has been some heavy articulation of the apologetic, talking about the quadruple bottom line, attacking the sacred-secular divide, and affirming the integration of our faith with our business. Then we have come a long way in the practice of BAM. The story is being told, in the conferences, in videos, on the ground where many businesses welcome visitors. Several colleges have course on BAM or components of BAM in business courses. We now can touch-see-hear it! Naturally all of this progress reminds us that we still have a long way to go. – Larry Sharp, IBEC Ventures

One thing to celebrate from the last 20 years is that we can observe spontaneous activity on virtually every continent, demonstrating that this movement is not “of man”. There is now widespread interest in dozens of mission agencies about BAM as an essential new strategy to reach the nations. There is also general acceptance in the larger church community as we bridge the sacred-secular divide and release business people and resources into the work. The plethora of books, classes, and studies on the subject, is bringing systems and academic rigor to what began as a rogue operation in Central Asia. We can especially celebrate the thousands of successful micro-businesses launched around the world, especially among the unreached; plus the dozens of SME and OPE companies in the movement today. – Mike Baer, Third Path Initiative

I believe we have seen some of the more worrying polarisation diminish. A “multi-lane highway” of BAM – with guard-rails on either side – is being built. Business-as-platform (in the sense of business simply for a visa) and business-for-profit (only) are, I believe, widely perceived as the edges of the road, beyond which lie catastrophic cliffs over which the unwary will plunge! There is a wider recognition that from whichever perspective I am approaching BAM, I need to have a legitimate, credible enterprise. We’ve made some encouraging progress in regards to funding BAM; there’s a bit more rigour across the board and better understanding of the importance of good planning. We’ve really made progress in seeing the global Body of Christ getting involved in the movement. There’s a great deal to sort out in this, and there will be still a lot of messiness, unilateralism and lack of collaboration, but there is some good progress. We’ve made great strides in addressing a broad scope of BAM related issues, it’s  now seen as “a discipline”, “a field”. The diversity of issues being addressed and the range of voices feeding into this discussion and learning is encouraging. From “freedom business” to “private equity”, from “micro-enterprise” to “scaling up”, there’s a lot going on. – Peter Shaukat, Transformational SME

Most Christian young people interested in missions and business who are looking for longer-term work and experience in our nation have good basis and understanding of BAM. There are still not enough new workers, but those that are coming have heard good things of BAM and have a good foundation. There is much improved capability to manage multiple BAM companies at one time, given digital technology, ease of travel, etc. The quality of entrepreneurship of BAM leaders has certainly improved – Dwight Nordstrom, BAM Practitioner

Churches are much more aware of BAM as a legitimate approach to missions. More young people see BAM as a welcome approach to serving in the nations. More business people / professionals are being mobilized to use their everyday gifts for the nations. It seems like there’s more of a desire for workers to be more transparent and credible in their identity, and not just faking it in business. There is more intentional planning happening in the whole process of undertaking a BAM venture, more coaching available, and more reality checks. Finally workers from the Global South are being mobilized and encouraged toward a BAM approach. – OPEN Network Field Worker

Some progress we can celebrate is that people see the potential of this paradigm much more; business is now a much more visible way to shine the gospel in unreached areas. The sacred secular divide is closing and the church has an opportunity to see things rather more holistically than simply ministry vs. work. This fits well with the millennial culture’s ideal for significance in the workplace. God has been building awareness of BAM simultaneously, and sometimes supernaturally, across a wide range of previously disconnected parts of the body of Christ which I believe will result in greater unity in the church and far greater effectiveness in mission. – OPEN Network Leader

We now have many more stories and resources. In the 20th century there were a lack of clear models that people were talking about. It felt as if 100 years went by without a single story involving an impactful, profitable business becoming a part of the missions narrative. When I began to truly dig into what was available for inspiration and learning in the mid 2000s, I found very little. There were few websites and most books focused mainly on workplace theology. Compare that to today where there are conferences, books, documentaries, college courses and programs that are focused on this topic. – OPEN Network Leader

 

We hope you were as encouraged by these perspectives as we were. God has been faithful and good, and we can be so thankful for all he has done in our midst. Although there is still much to do, there is also much to celebrate so far!

 

>> Read Part 1: 10 Pressing Issues to Address in BAM in the Next 20 Years

 

 

The BAM 2.0 Series

Over the coming months we will go into greater depth on each of these key issues.

In March we will continue with our introduction to the series, looking at how far we’ve come and some of our ‘big hairy audacious goals’ for the future.

In April we’ll take a deep dive into our ‘Why’ – what are some of the pressing global issues that BAM can address, including poverty, unreached people, the refugee crisis and human trafficking.

In May we’ll look at some limiting issues such as the sacred-secular divide, our definition of success, our geographical depth and our connectedness; issues that we must overcome for future growth.

In June we’ll look at resource gaps to overcome, including human capital, financial capital, mentoring, prayer and continuity planning.

We hope you enjoy this series! Follow us by subscribing to The BAM Review email or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

Compiled by Jo Plummer, with thanks to the BAM leaders who shared their perspectives. Special thanks to Patrick Lai for gathering contributions from OPEN Network field workers and leaders.

 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 Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

 

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

Procurement and Technology Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In this series of blog posts, we have been looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we have also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this sixth and final part of the series, we continue to examine the support activities of the value chain, this time focusing on Procurement and Technology.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Read more

Human Resource Management Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In this series of blog posts, we have been looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we have also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this fifth part of the series, we continue to examine the support activities of the value chain, this time focusing on Human Resource Management.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Read more

The Role of Business Leadership Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

This article picks up where we left off last year in the series on Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

As we continue examining the way the value chain analysis can be useful, we need to keep in mind that these activities do not operate in isolation or for their own purposes. The activities in one functional area impact other areas and must be coordinated to help the company achieve its overall strategic objectives.

For example, if a firm takes a differentiation strategy in which its products, services, brand and marketing messages are unique from its competitors, then every functional area must seek to add value to achieving that objective of uniqueness. A company like Apple spends significant money on R&D, quality components and exceptional advertising to set its products apart. Primary activities including inbound logistics (sourcing components), production (quality control processes), and sales and marketing (advertising) must all support this objective, as well as the support activities of procurement (spending the necessary money to ensure differentiation) and human resources management (hiring, training, evaluating and compensating the kind of employees who will maintain the standards of excellence needed).

Read more

Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens: Introduction

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. As we start the new year, we are highlighting articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for July to December 2018.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Ross O’Brien

In his 1985 book Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, Michael Porter introduced the value chain analysis. Many business people are familiar with Porter’s Five Forces Framework as well as his three generic strategies. The five forces address industry-level issues that to a large degree shape the potential for a return on investment in any given industry. The generic strategies help business leaders select the appropriate strategy for operating within a given industry and market. Both are helpful tools in the strategy toolbox.

Many are not as familiar with the value chain analysis. This tool looks closely at each of the activities involved in a business to examine how each activity can add value to the company as it seeks to execute its strategy. These activities are divided into primary activities and support activities.

Primary activities are those in which employees are “hands on” with the product at any stage in its development or involved with the customer at any stage in the customer’s interaction with the company.

Support activities are those necessary for the business to carry out the primary activities.

It is important to see both primary and secondary activities as a whole system as well as component parts. In doing so, you can understand how a competitive advantage is only possible when the various activities operate in harmony, not in isolation. Below is an image showing each of these activities.

Read more

Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever: A Response

by Ross O’Brien

Like Mats Tunehag in his original article Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever, I hope that one day followers of Jesus whom God has gifted for business will naturally recognize their vocational call to the marketplace as a call to fulfill the missio Dei, the mission of God.

God’s purpose in the world is to redeem all creation from the effects of sin and restore all creation back into right relationship with himself. As followers of Jesus we have the blessed privilege and responsibility of co-working with God in this mission. I agree with much of what Mats say in this article and in general.

However, I question a few points, which reflects some of my own mental pilgrimage on BAM.  Read more

Marketing and Customer Service through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we began looking at Porter’s value chain as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we also sought to use the tool as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this third part of the series, we examine marketing and service, the final two primary activities in the value chain.

Read more

Operations and Outbound Logistics Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In Part 1 of this series, we began looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. We looked at Inbound Logistics as one of the primary activities in the value chain.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. After all, while our names might be on the legal documentation as “owners,” we realize that the business belongs to God and we are co-laborers with him in restoring creation throughout the marketplace.

In the second part of the series, we continue to examine the primary activities of the value chain, this time focusing on operations and outbound logistics.

Read more

Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens: Introduction

by Ross O’Brien

In his 1985 book Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, Michael Porter introduced the value chain analysis. Many business people are familiar with Porter’s Five Forces Framework as well as his three generic strategies. The five forces address industry-level issues that to a large degree shape the potential for a return on investment in any given industry. The generic strategies help business leaders select the appropriate strategy for operating within a given industry and market. Both are helpful tools in the strategy toolbox.

Many are not as familiar with the value chain analysis. This tool looks closely at each of the activities involved in a business to examine how each activity can add value to the company as it seeks to execute its strategy. These activities are divided into primary activities and support activities.

Primary activities are those in which employees are “hands on” with the product at any stage in its development or involved with the customer at any stage in the customer’s interaction with the company.

Support activities are those necessary for the business to carry out the primary activities.

It is important to see both primary and secondary activities as a whole system as well as component parts. In doing so, you can understand how a competitive advantage is only possible when the various activities operate in harmony, not in isolation. Below is an image showing each of these activities.

Read more