BAM Out of Brokenness: An Easter Reflection

Today is Good Friday*. A day absolutely central to the gospel story and to our lived experience as followers of Jesus.

One of our scripture readings in our monthly BAM Prayer Call this week was of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53:

Surely he took up our pain

    and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

    stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.

 

This is the picture that we have of Jesus on Good Friday – our wounded healer.

 

And we are reminded that as followers of Jesus, we too are called to be wounded healers in a broken world.

As we contemplate Christ dead on the Cross, our thoughts turn to the countless injustices and sufferings which prolong his passion in every part of the world. I think of the places where man is insulted and humiliated, downtrodden and exploited. In every person suffering from hatred and violence, or rejected by selfishness and indifference, Christ continues to suffer and die. On the faces of those who have been “defeated by life” there appear the features of the face of Christ dying on the Cross. Ave, Crux, spes unica! Today too, from the Cross there springs hope for all.Pope John Paul II, Good Friday, 10 April 1998.

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

In just a few short weeks we will be gathering together at our BAM Global Summit, an online connecting point for the global business as mission community.

Doing BAM out of a place of brokenness and weakness, with a posture of humility and dependency on the Lord, has been a theme that the Lord has highlighted to us.  Read more

Where is Further Research Needed and Who Else Should We Be Listening To?

The business as mission community is contributing to a wider ‘listening process’ in the global evangelical mission community as part of our connection the Lausanne Movement. Lausanne also asked us:

Where is further research needed? To whom else should we be listening?

We received input from 25 global leaders on theses question especially as it relates to business as mission.

Where is further research needed?

In answer to areas for further research, three broad areas stood out:

1. Mission Strategy
  • Effective church planting and how best to reach unreached peoples today
  • Polycentric mission, mobilising near- or same-culture workers
  • Integral mission strategies, especially enterprise-related
  • Cross-cultural understanding
  • Utilising technology in mission

There are abundant Kingdom resources scattered around the globe, for example, global south billionaires to Christian diaspora communities in least reached nations. These need to be better mapped so we can identify how to capitalize on these resources and where to find additionally needed resources.
HE

With respect to unreached people groups there is much practical research needed to locate Christians and identify those among them who are entrepreneurial. Furthermore, in this context, there is a need to identify the existence of trade and its potential for growth in the short, medium and long terms.
RSH

An area where we need research would be in best practices of utilizing technology and social media as instruments of fulfilling the Great Commission. 
SV

The mapping of those least reached, especially those hidden in plain sight among larger groupings, will certainly help business planners assess how to integrate business necessities such as market size, labour pools, supply chains and resources with missional objectives to reach the unreached.
CS 

The church should follow and further growing research on how corporate culture is formed and functions, and the possible role of corporate culture in evangelism. St. Francis was attributed as saying, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” Business culture with its daily opportunities for values-based decisions may become a fruitful foundation upon which to disciple all nations, paving the way for the preaching and receiving of the gospel. Research would help us know with more certainty to what extent this is true and the means by which this might occur to best further the Great Commission.
RN 

Read more

In What Areas is Greater Collaboration Most Critical?

The business as mission community is contributing to a wider ‘listening process’ in the global evangelical mission community as part of our connection the Lausanne Movement. Lausanne also asked us:

In what areas is greater collaboration most critical in order to see the fulfillment of the Great Commission?

We received input from 25 global leaders on this question especially as it relates to business as mission. Four themes emerged as follows, illuminated by some direct quotes from leaders:

1. Collaboration between clergy and laity; between the business sphere and the church, mission agencies, and theological institutions.

2. Collaboration and openness by Evangelicals with other church traditions; overcoming barriers to hearing and learning from other perspectives, both political and theological.

3. Collaboration between geographical regions; working against nationalism and communicating and partnering with cultural humility.

4. Collaboration between organisations, and especially different parts of the BAM ecosystem; reducing redundancy, resource wastage and destructive competition.

 

1. Collaboration between clergy and laity; between the business sphere and the church, mission agencies, and theological institutions

I commend the Wealth Creation Manifesto as a foundation for cooperation between the BAM movement and mission organisations. There is great suspicion of business among mission organisations, much of it based on observation of the unethical (Babylonian) way in which so much business occurs.
RSH

The institutional church needs to recognize that itself alone would never be enough to see the fulfilment of the Great Commission. We need missional leaders from all walks of life: the marketplace, the media, the government, etc. to share the vision together and to collaborate.
FKT

There needs to be a much greater collaboration between the business as mission movement and the institutional church. Most pastors do not understand the God of Business, and many perpetuate the dichotomy between “sacred” and “secular.” Many BAM ministries find the church difficult to move in and through, so this work is done in NGOs outside of the church. But once a denomination does commit to this idea, so many pastors are happy to receive this news, because it is a win-win-win-win. It is a win for the business owner, the business itself, the church, and the community. This is powerful.  There is no downside.
RRT  Read more

Promising Breakthroughs and Innovations to Accelerate the Great Commission

The business as mission community is contributing to a wider ‘listening process’ in the global evangelical mission community as part of our connection the Lausanne Movement. Lausanne also asked us:

What promising breakthroughs or innovations do you see that can accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission?

We received input from 25 global leaders on this question especially as it relates to business as mission, here are selected replies that highlight the main themes, including:

  • Prayer and networking that fosters servant-hearted partnership
  • Witness and discipleship in the marketplace
  • Mobilisation of business people – especially the next generation
  • Higher quality training and business incubation
  • Greater accessibility of funding for businesses
  • Media and technology bringing multi-faceted impact

What promising breakthroughs or innovations do you see that can accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission?

The ability for believers globally to pray together by sharing information, prayer needs, and sharing answered prayers will lead to the greatest breakthrough.
HE

Acceleration = Movements. Incremental change will not reach the goal. So in every area we need to ask, “How do we make this simple, scalable, replicable, sustainable?” Movements can be facilitated through collaboration, networking and partnerships. When applied to prayer, resources, technology, equipping, etc. we will see greater breakthroughs. Since it requires increased humility, putting one another first, greater listening, etc. all these invite the Holy Spirit to do His work.
DS

The breakthrough will be when everyone sees their profession as that which can accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission. In addition to BAM efforts, another breakthrough is the several hundred thousand evangelical Christians working abroad for transnational corporations, government contracts, consulting gigs, university teaching getting the vision to share Jesus and disciple people. For example, I coached a group of 40 professionals working in North Korea a couple of years ago. There are a couple of hundred countries in the world, most of them non-western and they all want western technology, science, etc. Why not thousands of Christians at work living like Jesus everywhere. That would be a breakthrough – not only relying on traditional missionaries, but Jesus followers who live differently and beg the question for earnest seekers.
LS

Read more

Helping Entrepreneurs Thrive: The Power of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

If you have been in the entrepreneurial world for very long, you have likely heard the words “Entrepreneurial Ecosystems” pop up more and more in the last few years. And for good reason! Ecosystem theory has begun to change the way we think about entrepreneurship in general with the Kauffman Foundation, CoStarters, InBia, and others leading the way in the US. Ecosystem thinking is also transforming the way we do BAM, in that the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems is understood more and more as a powerful way to foster local business ownership, impact economic development, and expand the influence of the Kingdom in the marketplace of local communities around the world.

So, what is an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem?

Generally an ecosystem is an interconnected, interdependent network of elements, living and nonliving, that make up a supportive environment for a particular type of creature or entity. The word “ecosystem” is a biological term, originally used to describe the environment of a type of animal (or group of animals) that enables it to thrive. So a prairie could be an ecosystem for foxes because it provides other foxes, prey like mice, food for the prey like seeds, water, predators that inspire defensive behaviors, a favorable temperature, sunlight, a place to live, etc..

Outside of biology, the word ecosystem has been very fluid in its meaning. It can apply to a lot of different kinds of networks, such as networks of similar organizations, political environments, or ministry connections. Even the term “entrepreneurial ecosystems” is sometimes used to describe global networks across particular industries, networks of BAM practitioners, or networks of entrepreneurs in a local context.

For our purposes, and the purposes of this discussion, we will use the term “entrepreneurial ecosystem” to refer to the local networks of entrepreneurs, business leaders, local investors, and mentors in a single community or local area. For most entrepreneurs, most of the emotional support, resources, and customers come from such a local environment. It is the elements in that local environment that, when interconnected and supportive of entrepreneurs, allow entrepreneurs to thrive. Elements of that ecosystem can include resources like knowledge capital, other entrepreneurs, established businesses, places to operate like co-working spaces, markets, and even cultural attitudes.

“Building” an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

So if entrepreneurial ecosystems are our focus, we may rightly ask how one “builds” an ecosystem? In reality, ecosystems are never really created. Every community has some kind of environment or “ecosystem” for entrepreneurs, just not always one that is conducive for thriving. Debilitating competition from big business, resistance from banks and other lenders to lend, lack of knowledge resources on how to start a business, and a culture against risk-taking or profit-making can all conspire to make entrepreneurship difficult. As a result, a potential entrepreneur, even if he/she had a great idea, may never attempt to start a business, not because they lack ideas, but because they don’t know how, don’t know how to find resources, and (perhaps worst of all) feel all alone. When conditions fail to support entrepreneurs in an area, great ideas die untried, and solvable problems remain unsolved.  Read more

An Abundance of Counselors: Practical Steps to Set Up an Advisory Board

We are revisiting some of the classic material from The BAM Review blog on governance, accountability and the support that a BAM practitioner needs around them to thrive.

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing that having an Advisory Board is good idea for a BAM company. How is an advisory board different from other kinds of boards and how should I go about setting one up?

~ Needing Advice

Dear Needing Advice,

The question arises as to the purpose and practicality of an Advisory Board for a small business or a startup. I have had advisory boards for several of the businesses I’ve launched and served on advisory boards for others. Needless to say, I am a big fan.

King Solomon put it like this:

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”  Proverbs 11:14

“…for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”  Proverbs 24:6

The basic premise of an Advisory Board is that, rather than try to figure out everything on your own, you can enlist the wisdom, perspective and experience of others to help you “wage your war.” In addition to advice there is also a healthy element of accountability – something many entrepreneurs don’t want, but something all of them need. Read more

Iterations Through Feedback: Maximizing Startup Success

by Stu Minshew

On the topic of ‘maximizing BAM success factors’ we’ve invited guest authors to highlight what they consider key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. But what if you are a startup? What if you have a business idea and want to know how to maximize your success from the get-go? We asked entrepreneur and CO.STARTERS trainer Stu Minshew to share what he’s learned about maximizing startup success in this five part mini-series.

Part 5: Iterations Through Feedback

In my last post, we explored the benefits of a small start with a focus on providing value to the customer. This allows you to get your product or service into the hands of your customers quickly and begin collecting feedback. Today, we will discuss what type of feedback you are looking for and what to do with it once you have it.

Capturing Customer Feedback

Once you have the product into your customer’s hands, you will need to to create a system that allows you to learn from your customer. This will allow you to capture their feedback and make improvements to your business, product, or service. In every successful business, learning to meet customer needs is a top priority.

Find a way to hear stories about how your offering is helping to solve your customers’ problems. How is it meeting a need? How are they using it on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis? Ask the questions that will get people to tell you those stories. This is most effective through face-to-face interaction, where you can learn through what they say, and how they say it. If face-to-face isn’t an option, phone or video call is a solid second option. Make sure you are asking open ended questions that are allowing them to tell their stories about how your business is changing their life.  Read more

Starting Small: Maximizing Startup Success

by Stu Minshew

On the topic of ‘maximizing BAM success factors’ we’ve invited guest authors to highlight what they consider key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. But what if you are a startup? What if you have a business idea and want to know how to maximize your success from the get-go? We asked entrepreneur and CO.STARTERS trainer Stu Minshew to share what he’s learned about maximizing startup success in this five part mini-series.

Part 4: Starting Small

In my last post, I focused on the importance of living out your Kingdom values by loving and serving your customers. This allows you to sustain and grow your customer base as you deepen your relationship with those you serve. However, before you can get customers, you need a product or service for them to buy. The sooner you can get your product or service to them, the closer you are to making money and creating a sustainable business.

Dream Big, Start Small, Grow Smartly

Earlier in this series, in the post titled It Starts With You, I talked about the big dreams that motivate and inspire us. Often times our big dreams cause us to do too much or take on too much too fast. This can be overwhelming and result in a failure to do anything well. Or, it can put a large financial burden on our business too quickly. Neither of these is helpful as you are seeking to create sustainability.

Dream big, but start small.

To be good stewards of what God has given you, I encourage you to find the quickest and easiest way to get your product or service in front of your customer, while continuing to communicate the unique benefit you offer. This means you may not be able to offer everything you envision to your customer at first. By simplifying your long term vision to focus on the first step in achieving your dream, you will define a way forward that looks much more manageable. This allows you to serve your customer NOW, instead of someday, and helps you make the customer an important part your startup journey.  Read more

Understanding Your Customer: Maximizing Startup Success

by Stu Minshew

On the topic of ‘maximizing BAM success factors’ we’ve invited guest authors to highlight what they consider key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. But what if you are a startup? What if you have a business idea and want to know how to maximize your success from the get-go? We asked entrepreneur and CO.STARTERS trainer Stu Minshew to share what he’s learned about maximizing startup success in this five part mini-series.

Part 3: Understanding Your Customer

As a current or future business owner, your customer is critical to your success. While we may believe that our customer exists to buy our products or service, the reality is that we exist to serve our customers. I appreciate how CO.STARTERS intensely focuses on knowing and serving your customer. This customer-centric view aligns with Christ-honoring Kingdom values. Jesus calls us to love, care for, and serve our neighbor, or customers, in the same manner that we desire to be served. In order to serve our customers well, keep them coming back, and increasing in number, we must deeply listen to and understand their needs and desires.

What’s inside your customer?

Traditional customer research focuses on demographics including age, gender, location, income, etc. While these are important, it is vital to understand the the factors that lie beneath the surface. What are their interests, passions, skills, beliefs, and values? For example, if you have a product or service for dog lovers, your customer will cover a wide-range of demographics, but it is important to realize they share a common trait, a love for dogs.  Read more

It Starts With You: Maximizing Startup Success

by Stu Minshew

On the topic of ‘maximizing BAM success factors’ we’ve invited guest authors to highlight what they consider key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. But what if you are a startup? What if you have a business idea and want to know how to maximize your success from the get-go? We asked entrepreneur and CO.STARTERS trainer Stu Minshew to share what he’s learned about maximizing startup success in this five part mini-series.

Part 2: Success Starts With You

Why would a series on starting and growing your business begin with a whole post dedicated to 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