Recently, a friend of mine said, “It’ll be great when there are some BAM success stories to talk about.” I couldn’t conceal the shocked look in my eyes as I began to open up his eyes to the reality — yes, reality! — of current BAM successes. But it would have been much easier if I could have simply handed him a book and said, “Read this!” Or pointed him to a short, powerful video series on business and wealth creation. Or recommended some deeply thoughtful and biblical reports about how wealth creation is a key tool in bringing Gospel transformation to the poorest and least-reached people and peoples of the world. Or explained how an entire BAM ecosystem is developing in one of the largest countries in the world!
Now I can. (And so can you.) Over the past two years, the Lausanne Business as Mission Issue Network, together with BAM Global, has been busy producing and providing an assortment of resources related to BAM and wealth creation that are now available in multiple formats and languages. I want to share about a few of them.
Let’s start with a book called BAM Global Movement: Business as Mission Concepts & Stories, written by Gea Gort and Mats Tunehag. Gort is an author, journalist and missiologist who researches, speaks and writes about subjects such as BAM. Tunehag is a global ambassador for business as mission, a co-founder of BAM Global, and a former Lausanne Catalyst. Together they have done a tremendous service by assembling case studies that reflect all sorts of good and God-honoring BAM diversity, be it geographical, denominational, strategic, or in the sheer variety and scope of business activities and arenas. From Europe to Africa to Asia to the Americas, Gort and Tunehag take the reader on a global journey, stopping in on BAM practitioners and BAM activities that are bringing spiritual, economic, social and even environmental transformation to people and communities all over the world.
Throughout the journey Gort and Tunehag weave in some robust biblical underpinnings and teach BAM best practices (and even a few “not-so-best” ones!). They and their collaborators help the reader understand the importance of entrepreneurship and investing and incubating and accelerating, and that while BAM is not a one-size-fits-all solution, it nonetheless is a very real and relevant part of God’s plan to be glorified by engaging His whole Body — the “laity” as much or even more than the “clergy” — to tackle and transform issues of poverty and justice and the lack of Gospel access. This book is an excellent introduction to BAM and useful both for personal benefit as well as teaching in the classroom.
And speaking of classrooms, Lausanne has launched an exciting initiative called the Lausanne Global Classroom. One of the first ‘Classrooms’ is on Wealth Creation, based on the Consultation on Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation, which took place in March of 2017, with about 30 participants from 20 nations, primarily from the business world, and also from church, missions and academia.
Over one billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty since 1990 — more people in a shorter amount of time than ever before in history — due largely to job and wealth creation through small and medium sized businesses. We understand wealth creation to be a holy calling, a God-given gift, commended in the Bible, and a powerful means to eradicate poverty and transform lives, communities, societies and nations for the glory of God. The Wealth Creation Global Classroom is evidence and fruit of this belief. It consists of 13 video lessons, totalling about 45 minutes, based on teaching and interviews with the specialists who participated in the consultation.
Additional fruit from the Wealth Creation Consultation includes seven ground-breaking reports — including Wealth Creation and Justice, Wealth Creation and the Poor, and Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation. You can also read the one page Wealth Creation Manifesto which: calls the church to embrace wealth creation as central to our mission of holistic transformation of peoples and societies; calls for fresh, ongoing efforts to equip and launch wealth creators to that end; and calls wealth creators to persevere and diligently use their God-given gifts to serve God and people.
Brazil is an excellent case in point, an example of what can happen when Christian business professionals begin to understand business as a calling and wealth creation as a godly gift. The BAM vision has been promoted in numerous ways in Brazil since 2001, and then plodded along for nearly 15 years. If we use the “diffusion of innovation” theory as our guide, BAM was solidly in the first phase (“innovators”) of the inverted bell curve, slowly becoming discovered and embraced by key leaders in business, education, mission agencies, and churches, but not by the church at large.
However, in the past three years, we’ve seen a fairly quick uptick in interest, acceptance and utilization of BAM. In other words, it seems that BAM is now entering the second phase (“early adopters”) of innovation theory. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest this. So much, in fact, that a seminal BAM ecosystem is now clearly visible in Brazil:
From the “B” (of BAM) perspective, we can find events to encourage Kingdom and BAM entrepreneurship (similar to “startup weekends”), as well as recently founded BAM incubators, accelerators, and investment funds. There is a growing number of professional services — for example, legal and accounting — becoming available that have a Kingdom mindset and desire to serve BAM goals. There are dozens of Christian-owned businesses that are intentionally moving in the direction of becoming BAM businesses. There are at least two universities that are actively supporting Kingdom business and BAM projects.
From the historical “M” community side, there is a rapidly growing number of churches and mission agencies — as well as the Brazilian Association of Cross-Cultural Missions itself — that are embracing BAM and training and equipping BAM practitioners.
After many years of planting seeds, BAM Brasil was born – an extension of the BAM Global and Lausanne BAM networks – and the first-ever ‘congress’, the Congresso BAM Brasil took place in Maringá, Brazil from November 1st to 4th, 2018. With around 300 people present from all regions of Brazil, and representing four key spheres of interest (business, academia, mission agencies and churches), the congress was by all measures a resounding success. In the wake of the congress, BAM Brasil continues to work to invigorate the BAM movement in and from Brazil.
If you are feeling envious of those who participated in the BAM Congress in Brazil a few months ago, I’ve got good news for you. The second Business as Mission Global Congress is scheduled to take place in Thailand from 29 April to 3 May, 2020. Mark your calendars!
In the words of Mike Baer, one of the early leaders in the modern Business as Mission movement, “We exist to support church planting among the unreached people groups of the 10/40 Window through the seamless integration of business as mission.” Today — two decades into a movement that truly has become global — we see that BAM is capable of being more than that, but it is never less than that. May God continue to bless and use business for the sake of His great name, in all areas of every society, and among all peoples of the world.
Dr. João Mordomo is co-founder and president of CCI-Brasil, a global church planting movement among unreached peoples. João serves variously as owner, managing director and board member of several BAM companies, and serves in several BAM leadership roles including at COMIBAM, BAM Global and Lausanne.
“Thankfully, there are now many authors who have written on the theology of business and its importance in God’s kingdom. However, the variety of examples and stories in this book truly bring it to life in a way that is clear and compelling. It is time that God’s purpose for business becomes a global movement!” —Bonnie P. Wurzbacher, Former Senior Vice President, The Coca-Cola Company, Chief Resource Development Officer, World Vision International
“This is BAM at its best, TED Talk style. Topics are discussed briefly and then followed by practical cases studies that most any church or organization can identify with. These stories show that there is not only one way of doing BAM or running one kind of BAM business. If you read the book just for the case studies, it would be worth the price. If anyone still questions the importance of business as mission in reaching the world and value of integrating faith and work, read this book!” —Patrick Lai, OPEN Network