Colonising Earth with the Life of Heaven: Creation Care & Mission

by Caroline Pomeroy

Last month I visited a lively Anglican church in my local town. It was ‘Mission Sunday’ and to illustrate this to the children, the leader stuck post-it notes onto a giant inflatable globe, each yellow note signifying one of the church’s mission partners. He then asked people to remind him what Mark 16:15 says. ‘Go and evangelise all the people in the world’ was the first response…

These few minutes highlighted two things for me – first, a popular misconception about what the Good News means; and secondly the challenges of doing global mission in a climate crisis.

Good News to All Creation

At the end of Mark’s gospel, Jesus calls the first disciples to ‘… go and preach the good news to all creation.’ Although opinions differ on the exact interpretation of this phrase, a reading of other versions of the Great Commission – and indeed the whole of the bible – implies that there is more to the Good News than just saving human souls. In Matthew 28:19 the disciples are told to ‘… go and make disciples…’. A disciple is someone who loves God and loves their neighbour. So the process of disciple-making must include the practical outworking of loving God and neighbour. But how can we say we love our neighbours if, as a result of the way we live and do business, our global neighbours’ crops are failing due to climate change; our future neighbours’ homes will be under water by the end of the century; and our non-human neighbours’ habitat is disappearing due our demand for palm oil or coffee?

In Genesis chapters 1 and 2, Adam and Eve, made in God’s likeness, are given authority to ‘rule over’ creation on God’s behalf.  But just as Jesus, the Servant King, exercises loving dominion over His kingdom, this first Great Commission in Genesis 1-2 is about dominion, not domination. Humankind is called to serve and preserve the earth and all its creatures, not to dominate and exploit them.  Read more

Why Should We Care About Creation Care?

by Mats Tunehag

We know we are to be good stewards of creation. Those are God’s instructions to humans in Genesis 1 & 2 – especially Gen.1:28, often known as the ‘creation mandate’ (also ‘cultural mandate).

In the Business as Mission (BAM) movement we typically talk about the quadruple bottom line of social, spiritual, environmental and economic impact:

In and through business we want to:

  • serve people,
  • align with God’s purposes,
  • be good stewards of the planet,
  • and make a profit.

But how are we doing in the BAM community with stewardship of the planet? How are BAM companies leading the way in positive environmental change?

We know from our work in the BAM Global Network that creation care and environmental stewardship is a relatively weak area for BAM companies, and and that BAM practitioners feel under-resourced and overwhelmed by this challenge. Creation care is a topic in much need of further exploration in the BAM movement, which is why we are focusing on BAM and Creation Care again on The BAM Review this month. Read more

10 Key Points About Work in the Bible Every Christian Should Know

by Andy Mills, co-chair of the Theology of Work Project

As we begin a new year, we are posting some ‘foundational’ material on our biblical foundations for business as mission and how we respond to God’s call in each of our individual lives and circumstances.

Andy became a Christian as a CEO, and he felt God impress upon him the importance of asking, “What difference does being a Christian make for my work?” Over the years, Andy’s extensive experience as a Christian working in the marketplace and his study of scripture have helped him form the following perspective on work.

The Bible makes it clear that work matters to God. No matter what your profession or occupation – whether you’re a parent, a bus driver, an artist or an engineer – God cares about your work. Here are ten key points about work drawn from the Bible. They provide a practical foundation for Christians asking what the Bible says about how we should approach our work.

1) Work is part of God’s big picture

God created all things and He has revealed that, in His sovereignty, He is progressing created order through a process of Creation, Fall and Redemption. God’s created order started with the perfect garden (Garden of Eden) and will be consummated in the perfect city (New Jerusalem).

2) Our actual work matters to God, now and eternally

God has chosen to create men and women in His image to, among other things, work and tend this created order for His glory and for the betterment of humankind.  In ways we can’t fully understand, the good work we do now, done with and for Him, will survive into the New Jerusalem. Work itself has intrinsic value.

3) God provides us with unique skills, gifts and talents, and calls us to particular roles and activities

Read more

Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done… in Business

As we begin a new year, we are posting some ‘foundational’ material on our biblical foundations for business as mission and how we respond to God’s call in each of our individual lives and circumstances.

Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done… in Business

This was the title of a report for the BAM Global Think Tank with the subtitle “Biblical Foundations for Business as Mission” of which this blog post is an excerpt.

The working group who produced the report defined its purpose as identifying principles, models and practices of business that give expression to its role in advancing God’s purpose or mission in the world. Broadly speaking, they worked from the premise that God’s purpose is to establish His Kingdom—a Kingdom to be fully consummated with the second coming of Jesus Christ, but inaugurated in ‘this present age’ (Tit 2:11–14). The establishment of His Kingdom presupposes the redemption of the whole of creation (Rom 8:19–22).

What this means for business is that although profit matters for the sustainability of any business enterprise, it is not the raison d’etre for business as mission (BAM). BAM exists to pursue a different ‘p’, that of (God’s) purpose.

Thoughts on the Fundamental Biblical Purpose of Business

God calls His people to do good… Whenever business is carried out justly, it does good and is God-ordained because we are assured that all good things ‘come from above’ (Jas 1:17). God created the marketplace to serve positive ends. Human provision, facilitated by the beneficial exchanges of the marketplace, is a fundamental function of creation. Commerce can also be, at least informally, a means of revelatory grace, specifically as immanent charis, the kindness, mercy, and goodwill of God in the world, as business generates wealth that can be used to pay wages, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for widows and orphans. Business can be evangelizing witness to the glory of God… Christ is present in the marketplace when the devout carry out their business in accordance with God’s will, purposes, and character (Doty, 2011, pp. 93–4).

Understanding God’s purposes for business comes through understanding God’s purpose for humans outlined in Genesis and understanding God’s purposes for institutions (principalities and powers outlined in the New Testament writings). Broadly, the purpose of business lies within the context of the purpose of life―that is, the ‘chief end of humankind is to glorify God and enjoy God forever’  Read more

The Task Still Ahead and Plugging the Resource Gaps

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 asked us:

What are the most significant gaps or remaining opportunities toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20)?

We in turn received input from 25 global leaders on this question especially as it relates to business as mission. Four main themes emerged as leaders answered this question, which we will share in four blog posts through November.

The fourth and final theme focused on major resource gaps. Of course, the sacred-secular divide and lack of affirmation for the vocation of business (the theme of the first post in this series) is a major barrier to the mobilisation of people and other kinds of resources. However, this post builds on that and identifies specific kinds of human resources needed, plus initiatives such as prayer, funding, training, replicable business models that require focused attention if we are to continue to effectively respond to the Great Commission through the business sphere.

Theme 4: The Task Still Ahead and Plugging the Resource Gaps

In thinking in terms of BAM, we need more business builders. There are many BAM companies that need help growing and expanding their companies. More business builders will allow a greater reach into areas where people are living and dying without the Gospel being lived out among them.
MK

To see greater impact for the Great Commission, we need to see more franchisable models for BAM which have a high-enough barrier to entry for competitors in local 10/40 locations. We also need to mobilise ever greater numbers of entrepreneurs that specifically have as one of their goals to enable a minimum of 5-10 other Great Commission focused people, providing a means for other business leaders and professions for long-term in-country incarnational presence in least reached nations.
DN

If we are going to make disciples of all the nations, then we need to have a reason to be there. We know that the creation of a job, for many, can be the impetus behind their pathway to salvation. Bottom line is “People Need Jobs”. Gaining access to these individuals is a significant gap in our ecosystem. Finding the practitioners who can, in fact, transform lives through job creation is a major challenge. Once we are able to tell the story of Business as Mission, the response is almost always extremely positive. However, getting to these individuals can be difficult. One of the greatest opportunities is to work closely with churches and agencies already in-country and to find a way to integrate BAM where appropriate. In order for this to happen, there has to be someone in a leadership position within the church or agency who is willing to change. BAM needs to be looked at as a complement to their current strategy and not a threat. There has to be a sense of urgency that, at an aggregate level, doesn’t exist today.
BB

Read more

A Holistic Gospel and the Kingdom Coming in the Marketplace

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 asked us:

What are the most significant gaps or remaining opportunities toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20)?

We in turn received input from 25 global leaders on this question especially as it relates to business as mission. Four main themes emerged as leaders answered this question, which we will share in four blog posts through November.

The third theme was the need to present a more holistic gospel, with an emphasis on the great commandment to love our neighbour and the cultural mandate to steward creation and help humankind flourish. God’s kingdom rule and reign is for all spheres of life, and we long to see His kingdom coming in the marketplace. Business as mission is a powerful means to bring an integrated expression of the gospel, meeting people’s spiritual, relational and physical needs. For more on how business as mission impacts profits, people and planet and aligns with God’s purposes, read this short introduction to the quadruple bottom lines of BAM.

Theme 3: A Holistic Gospel and the Kingdom Coming in the Marketplace

Stewarding God’s creation should be a major focus for us. The natural disasters and the pandemic of the past year has also shone light on another gap in our work so far on the Great Commission. We have failed to adequately care for God’s Creation, to care for the resources God entrusted us to steward. As Christian leaders in the marketplace we have often failed to listen and respond to the voices within and outside of the Church to better understand the impact of our actions on our environments. Now the results of our actions are clear as the increased threat of natural disasters, extreme weather and the pandemic and its economic devastation are tied to our lack of care of natural resources. And this devastation often rests most heavily on the marginalized – those with the least resources and networks that create the resiliency to pivot, survive and thrive. So, we must actively respond to God’s call to be stewards ourselves and to listen to and raise-up voices of the marginalized in the marketplace who can help shape and lead a new vision of how we can be better stewards in the marketplace.
RAD

Demonstrating what the Kingdom of God is like holistically should be the focus of the coming years. A mixture of the gospel preached in deeds and the gospel preached in words. Relationships are key. And BAM is a key that fits to open doors. Be more “Salt and Light” in the world. But start where you are now.
BD

Read more

The High and Holy Calling of Business and Breaking the Sacred-Secular Divide

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 asked us:

What are the most significant gaps or remaining opportunities toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20)?

We in turn received input from 25 global leaders on this question especially as it relates to business as mission. Four main themes emerged as leaders answered this question, which we will share in four blog posts through November.

The first theme was the need to continually break down the sacred-secular divide and affirm the high and holy calling of business. This is, as it turns out, is also foundational to all the other themes and consistently comes up in lists of priority issues for business as mission. To learn more about what the sacred-secular divide is and why and how we work to break it down, please read this introductory blog by Mike Baer.

Theme 1: The High and Holy Calling of Business and Breaking Down the Sacred-Secular Divide

Specifically in the context of BAM, I see a couple challenges that I believe we can address in the near future. One is the continued lack of the global church embracing the high and holy calling of business. This lack restricts the enlistment of disciple makers in business as mission, limits the equipping for this work by the church to church-centric training, and prevents the next generation from seeing the potential of working in business as a venue for global evangelism.
MB

From the perspective of the church, a huge gap remains the theological marginalisation of work as a sacred act of worship in the understanding and behaviour of Christians in their everyday context. Ministry still remains largely defined in “church-type” terms, and “ministers” still remain largely a professional “class” in the minds of most avowed Christians. This must continue to be addressed.
CS

Read more

The Global Impact of the Wealth Creation Manifesto

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. During August and September 2020, we’ve published a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

One shouldn’t underestimate the importance of wealth creation. It is both a command and a gift from God. Moreover, it is a historically proven path to lift people and nations out of poverty. Different kinds of wealth can and should be created in and through business, to contribute to human flourishing.

The global consultation on this issue produced seven papers on various aspects of wealth creation. Our deliberations and these papers were summarized in the Wealth Creation Manifesto. We produced an educational video series with 13 short episodes, following the format and content of the Manifesto.

Today the Manifesto exists in 17 different languages. It shows that there is a need to clarify and convey the role of wealth creation for holistic transformation, of people and societies around the world. Furthermore, the message of the Manifesto resonates with people in many countries and cultures, and it is being read and applied.

So, it is a joy to present these encouraging and helpful endorsements from significant leaders around the world.  Read more

Business as Good News to the Poor

by Rachel Rose Nelson

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. During August and September 2020, we’re publishing a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

Affirmations 9 and 10 of the Wealth Creation Manifesto addresses the power of business to lift people out of poverty and fight injustice:

9. Wealth creation through business has proven power to lift people and nations out of poverty.
10. Wealth creation must always be pursued with justice and a concern for the poor, and should be sensitive to each unique cultural context.

Taken as a whole, the Wealth Creation Manifesto builds a sort of theology of business. It starts where every good theology must – in the identity of God, rooting the reader in the wealth creator’s role model – no less than the Creator of Heaven and Earth. It continues through affirmations of wealth creation as a holy calling, a provocative claim to many church and business leaders alike. But those willing to suspend disbelief at claims of holiness soon reach Affirmations 9 and 10 which tread on nothing less than the holy ground of Jesus’ own announcement of his ministry, words he drew directly from the prophet Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Luke 4:18-19

Jesus defined his ministry by its benefit to the poor. The people of Nazareth were moved at first but quickly turned against him. Many explain the drastic shift occurred as the crowd realized the man they knew since childhood was essentially claiming to be Messiah. But it’s worth noting that it was directly after Jesus denied big blessings for his own people that they moved to throw him off a cliff.

Wealth Creators on the Sidelines?

Are we so very different? How do we in the church receive these two Affirmations? Too often we love wealth creators when we think the blessings from their benevolence are headed our way, funding church programs, global missions, and charity to the poor, etc.. However, many harbor suspicions about what good can possibly be accomplished for God’s Kingdom by the businesses themselves.

And how do we in business receive the prophetic summons to bless the poor and vulnerable when stewarding our gifts? Most faith-driven entrepreneurs are certainly willing to give out of the overflow of their business, but never ask God how to use their business model to model Christ, making Him manifest in the places and for the people who need Him most.

Read more

Business as an Agent of Human Flourishing and the Greater Glory of God

by Rod St Hill

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. During August and September 2020 we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

Even the simplest one-person or family businesses as most are, especially in poorer countries, unleash the creative capacity in the human person, bringing together various inputs and transforming them into products that contribute positively to human flourishing. Not only do the products contribute to human flourishing, but the processes associated with business create opportunities for the realisation of human dignity.

The purpose of this blog is to reflect and comment upon the seventh and eighth affirmations of the Wealth Creation Manifesto:

7. The purpose of wealth creation through business goes beyond giving generously, although that is to be commended; good business has intrinsic value as a means of material provision and can be an agent of positive transformation in society.
8. Business has a special capacity to create financial wealth, but also has the potential to create different kinds of wealth for many stakeholders, including social, intellectual, physical and spiritual wealth.

I studied economic development at university over 40 years ago. I still recall reading Dudley Seers on ‘The Meaning of Development’. [1] He conceptualised development in terms of ‘realisation of the potential of human personality’. For this, he argued there were a number of necessary conditions, namely:

  • Basic needs – food, clothing, footwear, shelter – must be met
  • A job – defined broadly to include paid and unpaid work like studying, working on the family farm and housekeeping – to satisfy the need for self-respect
  • Other conditions such as good education, freedom of speech, and citizenship of a nation that is truly independent

In the first decade of my academic career I taught development economics. My students were certainly made aware of Seers’ concept. I also introduced my students to Amartya Sen’s work. He rejected the idea of ‘development’ and focused on freedom as the ultimate goal of economic life as well as the most efficient means of realising general welfare. According to Sen, overcoming deprivations (‘unfreedoms’) is central to development. These include hunger, ignorance, an unsustainable economic life, unemployment, barriers to economic fulfilment by women or minorities, premature death, violation of political freedom and basic liberty, threats to environmental sustainability, and poor access to health, sanitation, or safe water. [2]   Read more