How the Church Can Engage in Discipling Marketplace Leaders

by Dr. Phil Walker and Renita Reed-Thomson

There is a story told about a frog in a kettle. The frog is placed in a kettle of cold water. The frog does not notice that the water temperature is being turned up gradually until it is too late. He dies from the heat of the water, not realizing the danger he was in.

The Global Church is suffering from the “frog in the kettle” syndrome. As people increase in financial security, they tend to decrease their dependence on God. It is time to get the frog out of the kettle! In many parts of the world the local church has moved from an evangelical, spiritual force in the community to a closed off social activity in the corner. This move away from the vitality of government, education and business is slowly making the local church irrelevant to the community it is called to serve as a light. Like the frog in the pot, we are slowly reaching a boiling point from which we will not recover our critical role and calling. The dropping statistics of church attendance in both Europe and North America is alarming. Failure to make Jesus relevant in the marketplace will lead to a failure of mission. While business as mission has found a niche in the Christian community, it is not fulfilling its potential.

In 2004 the Occasional Paper on Business as Mission from The Lausanne Movement called on the church to disciple and release its members to be lights in the community.

We call upon the church worldwide to identify, affirm, pray for, commission, and release business people and entrepreneurs to exercise their gifts and calling as business people in the world—among all peoples and to the ends of the earth.

In the same proclamation it called on the business people to live out their calling as Ambassadors, moving out of the four walls of the church into the four corners of the marketplace. Read more

BAM and the Church: A Case Study from Ethiopia

This case study from the new BAM and the Church Report published by BAM Global showcases the process that one denomination in Ethiopia took to implement a workplace ministry throughout the denomination, following key leaders embracing the need to overcome theological challenges inherent in the church’s understanding of work.

Background

The Ethiopia Kale Heywet Church (EKHC), with 10,000 churches and 10 million members is Ethiopia’s largest evangelical denomination. In 2017, Pastor Yoseph Bekele was appointed to be the ‘Business as Mission Director’ for the Kale Heywet Church. Yoseph had previously worked in youth ministries across the country, even while running several businesses of his own.

When he started, Yoseph shared that businesspeople were considered ‘sinful people’ in his setting. There was no understanding of the purpose of business from a godly or biblical perspective. He also shared that while Ethiopia has a rich heritage and culture, it is poor economically. Therefore, sharing about work as worship and business as mission would be critical for Ethiopian Christians to understand the biblical call to work and how to do business that honours God, which can allow them to grow economically and to flourish in God’s way.

Outcomes to date

In the first three years of the program, from 2018 to 2021, Yoseph and his team of BAM trainers reached nine of the eleven regions of Ethiopia with the message of church-based business as mission. There are teams of trainers who help pastors understand the call of the local church to equip their members for the work of the ministry from Monday to Saturday. The leadership of the headquarters church of the Kale Heywet denomination has agreed that every local church should have a workplace ministry, just as they have a youth and women’s ministry.

In addition to working through the local church leaders, BAM trainers are also bringing this message to youth leaders, women ministry leaders, children’s ministries, prison ministries, mission departments, and the many Kale Heywet Bible schools, while also passing on the teaching and training to other denominations. As part of the training, everyone learns that there are one or more critical outcomes from the three Great Directives—the Great Commitment, the Great Commandment, and the Great Commission.

The Great Commandment outcome is social. Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is about loving God whole-heartedly and loving our neighbour as ourselves. The Great Commission outcome is missional. Jesus tells us to go and make disciples, beginning in Jerusalem and reaching the whole world. But the outcomes of the Great Commitment, a universal call, is economic and ecological. For many Ethiopian Christians, this often comes as a surprise. Read more

BAM and the Church: Unleashing the Power of the Congregation in the Global Marketplace

We believe the local church can effectively disciple and equip their members to have a positive influence on the marketplace – and especially the spheres of business and economics – with the complete understanding that God said it is ‘very good’.

While the modern business as mission movement has been growing and expanding globally for several decades, much of this growth has been outside of local church contexts. Yet the BAM Manifesto, published twenty years ago, thoroughly grounded this movement in the global Church when it ended with these recommendations:

We call upon the Church worldwide to identify, affirm, pray for, commission and release businesspeople and entrepreneurs to exercise their gifts and calling as businesspeople in the world – among all peoples and to the ends of the earth.

We call upon businesspeople globally to receive this affirmation and to consider how their gifts and experience might be used to help meet the world’s most pressing spiritual and physical needs through Business as Mission.

In 2014, BAM Global further identified three major goals for the BAM movement, our ‘BAM BHAGs‘. The third of these goals is ‘Transform views of business in the Church worldwide’. To this end, we are committed:

…to change the thinking of the global church on business. BAM Global will positively engage with leaders in business, church, missions, and academia to influence attitudes about business, wealth creation, work, and economics and affirm business as a God-given gift and calling. Business as mission is about realizing this new paradigm in the marketplace.

The Church Gathered Empowering the Church Scattered

These recommendations and goals are powerful reminders of the vital role played by both the church gathered and the church scattered in business as mission.

The ‘church gathered’ is the gathering of the saints in specific geographical areas, that is believers joined together in their local institutional church congregation or assembly, be it part of a denomination or an independent assembly. The ‘church scattered’ is Christ’s disciples spread throughout society, living out their faith within the home, neighbourhood, community or workplace.

The newly published BAM Global Report on BAM and the Church aims to rediscover the power, potential and synergy that flows out of a strong relationship between the local church gathered and the church scattered in the marketplace.

Read more

Unleashing the Church to Disciple Marketplace Leaders

by Dr. Phil Walker and Renita Reed-Thomson

There is a story told about a frog in a kettle. The frog is placed in a kettle of cold water. The frog does not notice that the water temperature is being turned up gradually until it is too late. He dies from the heat of the water, not realizing the danger he was in.

The Global Church is suffering from the “frog in the kettle” syndrome. As people increase in financial security, they tend to decrease their dependence on God. It is time to get the frog out of the kettle! In many parts of the world the local church has moved from an evangelical, spiritual force in the community to a closed off social activity in the corner. This move away from the vitality of government, education and business is slowly making the local church irrelevant to the community it is called to serve as a light. Like the frog in the pot, we are slowly reaching a boiling point from which we will not recover our critical role and calling. The dropping statistics of church attendance in both Europe and North America is alarming. Failure to make Jesus relevant in the marketplace will lead to a failure of mission. While business as mission has found a niche in the Christian community, it is not fulfilling its potential.

In 2004 the Occasional Paper on Business as Mission from The Lausanne Movement called on the church to disciple and release its members to be lights in the community.

We call upon the church worldwide to identify, affirm, pray for, commission, and release business people and entrepreneurs to exercise their gifts and calling as business people in the world—among all peoples and to the ends of the earth.

In the same proclamation it called on the business people to live out their calling as Ambassadors, moving out of the four walls of the church into the four corners of the marketplace. Read more