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What is Success? Advancing Spiritual Impact in BAM

by Tom

It is easy to be confused by how success in business as mission (BAM) is defined today from a spiritual perspective.

Once-upon-a-time the core concept of BAM was to have a spiritual impact. The reality that a business needed to be profitable should also have been a given, after all, a business that does not make money can’t survive or, as we say in BAM, cannot be sustainable. Even with this relative simplicity, being able to measure spiritual impact seemed elusive.

Early definitions struggled between Business AS Mission and Business FOR Mission both of which held that a central purpose was spiritual transformation. Early theological debates centered around the secular-sacred divide, could business even be spiritual? There were common perceptions of money and profit, often portrayed as evil and exploitive among Christians, that needed to be overcome. Business AS Mission assumed that when operations aligned with spiritual values, businesses could and would produce spiritual results when driven by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Business FOR Mission simply used the profits of a business to support traditional missional activity.

Today the definition of BAM has expanded to include an emphasis on poverty alleviation and job creation etc., issues that are also popular in the secular social enterprise world. However, one danger we face is that while we are expanding, we might also lose what makes us distinctive, appearing to put less and less emphasis on spirituality or spiritual impact. Yet, without intentional spiritual impact BAM is not any different than any well-meaning secular program.

Twenty years on from the early days of the business as mission movement, we continue to wrestle with this topic of spiritual impact in BAM!  Read more

9 Strategies to Fortify Your BAM Team Against Spiritual Attack

Every business has its challenges, but BAM businesses face unique trials from the enemy who comes “to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) and preys on weak points in the company as well as employee relationships. The following are nine ways to specifically position your team to be ready for the hardships that may come.

1. Be on the same page

Your decision makers need to share an understanding of the vision and values that guide the company. Discuss your vision and values from the beginning, and revisit them on a consistent basis.

2. Communicate consistently

Good communication doesn’t happen organically or naturally, but requires intentionality. Setting up good avenues for communication include having regular reviews and scheduled team meetings, as well as prioritizing clearing up discrepancies as soon as they arise.

3. Establish good boundaries between work and nonwork friendships

Some BAM employees end up spending every waking moment together and get burnt out on each other. It’s encouraged to have a variety of friends inside the business as well as outside.  Read more

5 Ways to Increase Spiritual Impact In and Through Your Business

A defining characteristic of a BAM company is that it intentionally integrates business with missional purposes. Yet, sometimes it can be challenging to figure out how to do so practically. Here are 5 areas that business owners and leaders can increase spiritual impact in the companies they oversee:

1. Keep God First

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:23-24).

  • Establish spiritual principles and values and integrate them into the mission, vision, and objectives of the company. Review how well you are abiding by these principles during all stages of the company’s development.
  • Create a Spiritual Impact Plan that has specific goals for how you run your company with spiritual objectives in mind.
  • Invite accountability to maintain the purpose of your company. Appoint a person or group (often called an advisory board) with the responsibility to assess and evaluate how well various departments and projects are aligned with the stated mission, vision, and values within the company.

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How Does Spiritual Impact Intersect with Your Product or Service?

It goes without saying that the product or service you develop will be tightly interwoven with your missional goals: social, economic, environmental and spiritual. We can learn a lot from mainstream business about how to most effectively develop products and market share that will turn a profit and create economic impact. We can also learn much from the social enterprise movement and other socially responsibility companies about how products and services integrate with both social and environmental impact. But business as mission integrates a fourth bottom line, that of spiritual impact. In what ways does the product you develop or the service you offer intersect with the spiritual impact of a BAM company?

We asked four BAM practitioners in very different sectors in different parts of Asia to share why they chose their business and how it connects with the spiritual goals for their business:

Extreme Sports Equipment – Wholesale and Distribution

For us it’s impossible to separate our products from the impact we want to have as a business. First of all we want to make sure that all our products have integrity. We use the finest quality materials to make our equipment. Factories here tend to use a lower grade of materials when mass producing this type of equipment. We asked our manufactures to use the highest grade of materials possible and have a good standard of quality control in place. We pay more, but we feel that supplying top-quality equipment is integral to our credibility and our message. We also include graphics and images on our equipment that have a gospel meaning behind them. Every graphic has a story and we include booklets with our products that explain what the images mean and essentially tell the gospel. We are actively engaged with the extreme sports community here, we sponsor competitors and hang out with the people who are into our sport. We’ve started a kind of church among this group, we go where they all gather together and we do a bible study there, we regularly meet with a core group of 20 to 30. We send representatives from our company out as they do product distribution to other cities and they are able to build relationships with community leaders and begin to disciple them. – Jon and Dave Read more