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Reflections on Business as Mission: For the 100th Edition of The BAM Review

by Jo Plummer

December 2018 marks four full years of the new Business as Mission website and the launch of The BAM Review blog. We have now been posting one or two BAM blogs weekly for almost 208 weeks, and with the addition of a few posts from our old website catalogue, we have now posted a total of 461 blogs on this site!

In addition, Tuesday 18th December will mark the 100th Edition of The BAM Review email, that has been going out to our subscriber list twice a month since January 2015!

With these milestones to celebrate and the end of another year approaching, I thought I would take some time to reflect on Business as Mission with an additional response to the article by Mats Tunehag ‘Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever!’ – continuing on from Ross O’Brien’s response of last week.

I will round out this two-part article with the suggestion that the business as mission movement is like the bricks and mortar in a wall – and that we will need more of both in order to grow to full strength in the future.  Read more

The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission: The Power of Integration

by Will Sorrell

Conference centers fill and coffee carafes empty at countless Christian conferences each year. Recently, faith and work1 as well as business as mission (BAM)2 have been popular themes. They are similar in scope, seeking Gospel renewal and redemption in and through the vehicle of work. Nevertheless, these interrelated fields do not intersect nearly enough.

A recent article from Mats Tunehag, co-author of BAM Global Movement, describes the business as mission movement as upheld and driven by three biblical mandates: the Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:28), the Greatest Commandment (Matt. 22:37-39), and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). He precisely states that those engaged in BAM must keep all three at the forefront of their intentions, their businesses, and their missions. This is a helpful framework, but does not always materialize in a balanced way. It is not difficult to imagine some BAM entrepreneurs and tentmakers3 placing emphasis upon the Commission over the Cultural Mandate.

Faith and work invites Christians to see the God-ordained value in their existing vocation. Work that promotes human, environmental, and economic flourishing is indeed worship, and we must treat it accordingly.

Meanwhile, the rapidly growing faith and work movement—in the United States and elsewhere—heavily emphasizes societal renewal. Faith and work invites Christians to see the God-ordained value in their existing vocation. Work that promotes human, environmental, and economic flourishing is indeed worship, and we must treat it accordingly. However, faith and work integration must not neglect the charge to make disciples locally and globally.  Read more

Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation

Intentional Stewardship

Along with the spiritual, financial, and social bottom line, the environmental bottom line is an integral measure of a God-centered successful business. The subject of this series is wealth creation for holistic transformation. The work of wealth creators includes sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus, improving the financial wellbeing of society and the staff within their companies, providing the dignity of work and the stability that ensues from meaningful long term employment, developing a society where we love each other as we love ourselves, and providing the clean energy, water, air and land on which we live. The wealth creator acknowledges this inextricably linked web of relationship with Christ, society and creation.

Environmental stewardship, then, is not an add-on. It is not part of a marketing plan to ‘look good’. It is a God-given command to steward his creation. By affirming one’s business and passion for wealth creation as an important part of the business ecology and an instrument in meeting the cultural mandate, creation will be restored and opportunities for wealth creation will be seen. Each business run by wealth creators has a specialty, a God-gift, and points of excellence that can be applied to a pressing environmental issue. A transportation company can work on innovative fuel efficiency and improve transportation of needed medicines. A restaurant can source its food stocks with care,[i] and reduce food waste by supporting the food bank with excess, then composting the rest. An office can install passive cooling, energy efficient lighting and provide incentives to reduce commuting or increase the use of less polluting transport for their employees. Companies have the advantage of scale and resources to do much good quickly. Environmental discipline is financial discipline (conservation of resources), social discipline (respect of local communities and the resources under their stewardship), and spiritual discipline (obeying God’s commandment to steward the earth). The bottom lines are integral and are split into four for convenience, but not in practice. A company is not truly profitable until it affects a positive return in each bottom line. Stewardship is intentional and requires discipline to carry it out. Sustainable living is to ‘aim for a full, just and responsible enjoyment of the amazing gifts that our generous God has provided for us.’[ii] Read more

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.  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

God in Your Foundational Statements

by Dave Kahle

There is a certain power and attractiveness that accrues to those folks who take a stand and publicly express it. That’s called leadership, and the world is full of people looking for a leader. There is something compelling about a person who is committed to a cause that is bigger than just himself, who has the courage to declare that commitment not only for himself but on behalf of those in his sphere of influence, and to do so publicly for anyone who wants to hear it. The impact can be incalculable — spreading across geographies and dripping down into several generations.

Of course, we’ve all seen this principle in our lives — significant people influencing multitudes with the strength of the commitment to a cause. My mind leaps to Billy Graham on the positive side, and Hitler on the negative. These are grand-scale examples, but there are scores of others in our families and communities who don’t get the same level of notoriety, but for whom the principle is just as operative.

Read more

Creating Wealth that Reaches Beyond the Dollar Sign

by Joseph Vijayam

BAM Conference 2018 Speaker, September 21-23 – Visit bamconference.com

We who form the Church of Jesus Christ are called to usher in the kingdom of God in all its fullness. Bringing in the kingdom requires the Body of Christ to do many things. One of these is to create wealth.

In Ephesians 5:25-27, Paul uses the imagery of marriage when he refers to Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom betrothed to His bride, the Body of Christ. We are the friends of Christ the Bridegroom, and in that special role we have been entrusted with the task of hastening the day of His wedding. It requires us to work towards preparing the bride so that she is ready and spotless. This happens when the hearts of people across all nations, tribes and tongues are yielded to His Lordship. To this end, we must preach the gospel, make disciples, free the oppressed, feed the hungry, serve those in need and bring in righteousness and justice to all people.

God will do the above through those that fear Him. Wealth is one of the important resources that He grants to His people to accomplish His purpose for all mankind. Wealth is needed to fight poverty which is the primary characteristic of Satan’s kingdom – an antithesis of God’s design and desire for us to enjoy abundant life.

Poverty is often not the result of the sin committed by the person who lives in poverty, but it is a sign that Satan is active in stealing, killing and destroying in order to perpetuate poverty around the world. The good news is designed to provide relief to the poor (Isa 61:1-4). This includes those who are economically poor, the hungry, thirsty, naked and homeless as well as those who are broken hearted, restless and in bondage to sin (Mt 25:35-36). While the anointing breaks spiritual yoke (Isa 10:27), money is needed to break material yoke. Read more

Excerpt from Wealth Creation and Justice

Righteous Business

Justice. Righteousness. Scripture often treats these as synonyms. Yet each is distinct. To be just means one has avoided breaking the law, and has fulfilled the law. It conveys an absence of culpability. Righteousness, by contrast, implies a larger, fuller standard of behavior. It subsumes justice, but adds the love-motivated behaviors that represent the very heart of God’s kingdom. Righteousness is a higher standard than justice, applicable to those with ‘ears to hear’. We see this distinction play out quite clearly in Scripture’s guidance to business people.

The Bible has quite serious things to say to employers regarding just compensation of workers. God frequently and emphatically condemns businesspeople who take advantage of their workers, particularly through exploitive compensation:

‘Why have we fasted’, they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers (Isa 58:3, NIV; emphasis added).

Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty (James 5:4, NIV; emphasis added).

Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts’ (Mal 3:5, ESV; emphasis added). Read more

Excerpt from Wealth Creation within Global Cultural Perspectives

Kingdom Values Trump Mere Cultural Values

All the participants and all the case studies used in this paper show a very strong adherence to the supremacy of Kingdom values over culture. Biblical wealth creation demanded, even in challenging cross-cultural situations, that whenever a cultural value came into conflict with a cultural norm, then the cultural norm must bow. Biblical values were transcendent and universal.

Unsurprisingly, empirical research by secular sources has echoed this insistence on the reality of universal values. Rushworth Kidder’s research with the Institute for Global Ethics, for instance, shows five core values shared universally: honesty (or truth or integrity), responsibility, respect, fairness, and compassion.[i]

Amongst the practitioners we interviewed,[ii] the most commonly noted biblical values relevant to the task of wealth creation were the following:

Integrity

The issue of ‘corruption’ is frequently mentioned as a chief concern. Its reality was clear, and numerous business leaders expressed their determination to fight it, even at the cost of significantly endangering the official permissions necessary for their projects. Encouragingly, despite the risks, there were numerous testimonies of the eventual success of these same projects. Moreover, their stance for integrity earned them the added advantage of the good reputation, both for their businesses and the God they represented. Read more

Breaking Down the Sacred-Secular Divide

by Mike Baer

Adapted from material first published on the Third Path Blog, as part of a series, reposted with kind permission.

What is the Sacred-Secular Divide?

You don’t have to go very far today to hear some reference to the ‘sacred-secular divide’ or the ‘sacred-secular dichotomy.’ It’s in all the books, blogs, conferences – and occasionally in a sermon. And it’s always in a negative connotation.

So what exactly is the sacred-secular divide? In one sense, it’s impossible to define. It’s a kind of culture, a nuance, an entirely too subtle way of looking at life, vocation and ministry. It’s a shadow that covers many other aspects of our lives. It seems innocuous, but it’s not. The divide is a false dichotomy, a false worldview, an infection in the minds of Jesus’ followers that has done incalculable damage to the cause of the Church.

However, we can at least approximate the meaning of the divide in this way. It is a view of life built on a separation or distinction between those things, people and places someone believes to be sacred (holy and of God) and those believed to be secular (worldly and not of God). Certain callings are holy (missionary, pastor) and others are secular, i.e. of the world and therefore unholy (business, medicine, construction, etc). Certain places are sacred as well—church buildings, graveyards, seminaries while others are secular—my house, your house, schools, and athletic stadiums. I know you might like the sentiment, but a candle lit in a church building is no more holy or special to God than a candle on my 2 year old grandson’s birthday cake. Caution: if that statement offends you, then you are living in the divide. In short, it is all about distinctions and separations and classes and castes. Read more