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Beyond God Bless You and Merry Christmas

by Mike Sharrow

I grew up in Alaska, in a melting pot of transient people and cultures (there are only 17 of us genuine Alaskans). I embarked on college then early career pursuits at a Fortune 50 company in Chicago where Christianity in the workplace was peculiar and I first wrestled with my own “sacred versus secular” frustrations. Then, in 2006, I moved to Texas and was surprised to find out that “everybody [practically] is Christian here!” At least, I heard a lot of Christianese and there was even a Christian business chamber of commerce.

What Does it Mean to Be a Faith Driven Entrepreneur?

Blown away by this apparent oasis of fellow sojourners in business and the Kingdom, I began to ask every entrepreneur I could “So, what does it mean that you’re a Christ-follower running your business?” With every answer my heart sank.

The top 5 answers I received representing scores of in person surveys:

1. I’m not afraid to say God Bless you or Merry Christmas!

2. We pay people fairly, treat people well and tell the truth (slow clap)

3. We do a good job and I give a fair bit of money away to a lot of good causes

4. Everybody knows I’m a member of Acme Really Christian Church and vote for the Bible believing political party (which I didn’t know that party existed)

5. Can’t you see the fish on my business card!?

I concluded too many people confuse being American or, in this case, Texan, with being citizens of the Kingdom of God operating as called and commission ambassadors stewarding business assets of our Father’s Holding Company for His purposes and His glory.  Read more

Three Lessons from The Good Book on Business

If Christian business leaders would accept their significant role in the Kingdom, we could transform the world! However, two current cultural paradigms hold back Christian businesses and prevent them from fulfilling their purpose: The secular idea that business is just about making money, and the Christian cultural idea that business is really a second-class occupation, subservient to the institutional church clergy.

Dave Kahle addresses these challenges in his book The Good Book on Business and helps us grow in our understanding of the importance of business in the Kingdom of God. Beginning with the first words God spoke to Adam and continuing through the entire Bible, Kahle shows that business was, and is, God’s first choice as a venue through which to interact with mankind, take care of people, grow character and faith, and channel God’s power and providence. Here are a three take-aways from the book for those wondering what the Bible has to do with their business:

1. God at Work

At the start, there is the foundational truth that God himself is a worker, as shown through His creation of the universe and culminating with His creation of humankind. God created humankind in His image, and so it is His intent for us is to also be workers, and by extension, to be involved in business.  Read more

10 Guiding Principles for Business as Mission

Read this classic blog from our Archives, an excerpt from the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission.
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A good business as mission business will, by definition, have many of the characteristics of any well-run business. A kingdom business must be profitable and sustainable just as any other business. Integrity, fairness and excellent customer service are characteristics of any good business, not just a business as mission venture. As such, while important, those characteristics will not by themselves necessarily point people to Christ. A kingdom business begins with the foundation of any good business, but takes its stewardship responsibilities even further.

What follows is a list of principles that should underpin a business as mission business. First we list the basic foundational principles that must exist in any good business. Following that are the principles that distinguish a good business as mission business.

Foundational Business Principles

1.  Strives to be profitable and sustainable in the long term

Profit is an indication that resources are being used wisely. It indicates that the product or service being produced and sold does so at a price that covers the cost of the resources, including the cost of capital. For most businesses, profits are fleeting, and never a sure thing. It is common for businesses to experience periods of low profit, and even negative profit. Thus it is important to take a long-term view of profitability. Occasional windfalls are often what will sustain a company through periods of financial losses. For that reason a well-managed business will use extreme care when considering whether and when to distribute profits. Profit, and its retention, is not necessarily an indication of greed. Read more

Business and Shalom

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. This summer, we are highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past 6 months. Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for January to June 2018.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Roxanne Addink de Graaf

Business and Shalom are seldom seen in the same sentence. Shalom is a word more often heard in church than in the marketplace.

However, just coming from a visit with entrepreneurs in Liberia, I’m more convinced than ever of the vital role of business in bringing about true shalom, the shalom God calls us to build here on Earth. Shalom should be a driving force behind the mission of every business, and shalom provides an excellent framework for a wholistic, multiple bottom line kingdom-building business.

The Biblical vision for “shalom” goes beyond our common understanding of peace. As the Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff writes, “Shalom is the human being dwelling at peace in all his relationships: with God, with self, with fellows, with nature… shalom is not merely the absence of hostility…at its highest it is enjoyment in one’s relationships.” (from Until Justice and Peace Embrace, Wolterstorff, 1983)

Relationships are at the heart of shalom, and the marketplace is a place of relationships. We will not achieve a true vision of shalom if we don’t achieve shalom in business, and as Christians in business, we need to be leading this crusade.

Wolterstorff goes on in his essay to describe shalom as a rich and joyous state of right relationship (justice), delight in service of God, the human community and the creation around us. Shalom is not a peaceful spiritual state where physical needs aren’t met, where people are still hungry, injustices prevail or work is no more. Rather, our right relationship with nature involves work and reward. Wolterstorff reflects that the Biblical shalom includes “shaping the world with our labor and finding fulfilment in doing so,” as well as enjoying the fruit of our labor, celebrating with “a banquet of rich fare for all the people.” (Isaiah 25:6) Read more

Foundations: BAM 101

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. This summer, we are highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past 6 months. Below is the “Most Popular Post” for January to June 2018.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Mike Baer

So what exactly is Business as Mission? In its original intent (I was one of the first to use the term, so I can say this!) it meant that business—my job, my company, my skills—can and should be deliberately connected to what God is doing in the world, i.e. His mission. Nothing more. Nothing less.

What BAM is Not

Over the past 25 years the term Business a Mission and the concept has been adulterated and abused. For some it has come to mean:

  • Ethical Business—simply being honest in a Christian sort of way
  • Business as Visa—setting up fake or quasi-fake businesses in the effort to secure an entry visa for missionary work in a restricted access country
  • Poverty Alleviation—programs to help the poor make a better living
  • Business Justification—making business OK or more valuable to God by somehow doing it overseas (I write as an American)

Read more

How Startup Success Starts with You

by Stu Minshew

Highlights from the Archives

Success Starts With You

Why would a post on starting and growing your business focus on YOU? A good product or service is all it takes, right? While it is important to have a good product or service, the most important factor in the success or failure of your business is you!

Most businesses don’t fail because of poor products or fierce competition. They fail when finances are mismanaged, passion is lacking, and expectations are unrealistic. By starting with an in-depth look at yourself – including your passions, strengths, weaknesses, expectations, and financial literacy – you can take the critical first steps to launching a successful business.

Identify and Test Your Assumptions

We all have an idea of what our successful business will look like in the future. At this point, that picture might be a little blurry if your business is only a concept. However, getting a clearer picture of that vision is important for your success. It is going to provide you with a general target for how you grow your business.  Read more

Workplace Relationships: Community Interaction

by Michael Thiessen

I’m willing to bet that if you own a business, it’s not a huge mega-corporation with billions – or even millions – in revenue. You probably own a fairly small business (or might work for one). Most people would probably guess that a large share of businesses have fewer than 20 employees, but did you know that the number is 90%?

When you run a small business, your community is vital to your success. Your customers, suppliers, employees, and even your competitors, are all part of your community. The first church in Acts had a strong sense of community, which we emulate to this day in our own churches. When others need help, we provide it, whether it is financial, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise.

Communities are part of what makes us strong. But our community doesn’t stop at the doors of the church that we attend on Sunday mornings. How can we be good stewards of the business God has given to us, using it as a platform to build strong relationships with our community?

Professional Peers

We can give employees time off to volunteer, we can give discounted services to churches and other non-profits, or we can use the equipment or expertise from our business to help others in the community. I could probably list off a few dozen more, and I’m guessing you could too. Instead of spending time on those fairly obvious avenues, let’s focus instead on how we can connect with others in our industry.  Read more

Workplace Relationships: Serving Your Clients

by Michael Thiessen

Capitalism – for all of the wealth and prosperity that comes with it – has many flaws. One flaw, however, is often overlooked. Capitalism causes us to stamp out uniqueness and to treat everyone as if they were exactly the same. The industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries led into the mass market revolution of the 20th century, which led us to where we are today, in the 21st century.

Along the way these revolutions significantly changed how we operate our businesses and how we treat our customers. Over time we have been trained to view other human beings as faceless numbers on a spreadsheet. In this way it has robbed us of our ability to serve each other’s unique needs. It has made it more difficult for us to love and serve our customers as individuals. But this trend is reversing. Now we have a lot more ability to serve each person’s specific needs and treat them like a fellow human, while still running a successful business.

The Mass Market and Taylorism

The mass market has profoundly shaped our society – not just by creating wealth and boosting productivity, but by changing how we think. It all started with a man named Frederick Winslow Taylor, whose ideas on what he called Scientific Management paved the way for the mass market. His innovation was simple – to apply engineering practices to the business itself.  Read more

Workplace Relationships: Loving Your Employees

by Michael Thiessen

As a business owner, you provide many amazing things for your employees. You provide financial security for their families, a sense of belonging, and the emotional well-being and satisfaction that comes from doing good work. However, if Jesus were running a business, do you think he would stop there?

I believe that we are called to much more than that. We have so many more opportunities to bless our employees and care for them – to love our neighbors as ourselves. We can learn leadership lessons from Jesus, think more deeply and compassionately about who we are hiring, find ways to engage spiritually with our employees, plus some other great ways of caring more for our employees.

Leadership Lessons from Jesus

In true biblical fashion, it turns out that the best way to lead others is to serve them. Stephen Covey, who wrote one of the best-selling business books of all-time, was an advocate of this style of leadership, aptly called Servant Leadership. This is also the style of leadership that Jesus used throughout his ministry. We see this in how he washed the feet of the apostles, humbling himself to serve them even though he was their King. In fact, one of the people I have interviewed for Marketplace Disciples has based their entire business on teaching others how to lead in this way. Jannice Moore coaches the boards of businesses and non-profits, and gets to share the story of Jesus with all of her clients:

“The model of governance in which my business specializes is Policy Governance ®. One of its fundamental principles is that the board is not there for itself, but for its owners, those on whose behalf it governs, and that the board’s relationship with those owners should be one of servant-leadership.

So I build the concept of servant-leadership into every presentation, and use it as an opportunity to note that the concept was one taught by Jesus Christ.” Read more

Where Does Your Business Fit in God’s Economy?

by Dave Kahle

Excerpted from Dave’s book The Good Book on Business

It is the early moments of creation. God is busy at work, creating the universe, and has just created his most complex entity: Man. Or, more specifically, the man Adam. He is a special creature, made in the image and likeness of God himself and placed at the very top of the created world.

How will God relate to Adam and his progeny? Will he create some special organization, like a church, and command Adam to worship him? Will he give Adam a family and expect that in the myriad decisions of raising children and getting along with his spouse Adam will seek him out for wisdom and guidance and thereby seek a relationship with God? What will God do with Adam? For what purpose did God create him?

He will give Adam a job. First, a lifetime purpose and then a specific task that contributes to that purpose. Then within the context of that job, God will work with Adam, speak to him, relate to him, and work together with him.

In other words, God created work—and by extension, business—as the venue in which God would speak with man, relate to man, and work with man.

Let us take a look:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
(Gen. 2:15) Read more