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

Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever!

by Mats Tunehag

I hope very few people will talk about Business as Mission (BAM) in the future. The term is like scaffolding; it is needed for a season as we build a new paradigm and praxis: businesses that glorify God and bring about holistic transformation of people and societies.

The term BAM has its merits in clarification of the concept. The term has been helpful in the affirmation of business people and the mobilization of resources. But the term is not important – the concept and the applications are.

Many Terms, Similar Concepts

In the general business world, there are also several terms for businesses that aim at multiple bottom-lines serving multiple stakeholders. Some examples are social enterprise, creative capitalism, conscious capitalism, corporate social responsibility, and inclusive business. Different terms, but very similar concept.

Some people dislike the term BAM or question its usefulness. Other phrases are used, such as business for transformation, Kingdom companies, missional business or business as integral calling.

Even this article highlights a limitation regarding terminology: it is in English. There are about 6,000 other languages in the world.  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.
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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.
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Read more

10 Things That Will Help or Hinder BAM Multiplication

As we count down to the BAM Global Congress in April 2020, we revisit some of the key issues that we want to address when we gather together. These 10 topics are all on the agenda for the Congress 2020 and we invite you to join us!

How do we multiply and scale the number of fruitful BAM companies around the world? One of our key tasks must be to envision and mobilise a new wave of would-be business as mission practitioners from every country on the planet. Some of those will come from a corporate or small business background, envisioned with a broader perspective on their skills, experiences or companies. Others will come from a non-profit or mission agency context after seeing the need for business as mission firsthand. Still others will be the next generation coming through schools and colleges, growing up with an integrated passion for business and God’s work in the nations.

There are many strategies and models for mobilising and equipping future BAMers. Whatever your strategy, here are 10 things that will help or hinder BAM multiplication:

1. God is at work

Perhaps our most important opportunity is that God is on the move in the global marketplace. God is at work among business people and business people are hungry for this message. Christ-followers in the marketplace around the globe are sensing God’s call to impact the world in and through their vocation. Our message must affirm business professionals and exhort them to use their vocational experience and expertise for God’s Kingdom work. Since we are co-workers with the Holy Spirit in the work of mobilisation, prayer must be considered vital work in the BAM community. We cannot have fruitful advocacy and mobilisation without this partnership between our efforts and God’s work in people’s lives. This is not another program for us to deliver, but a movement of God. Read more

Transforming the Church, One Engaged Business Person at a Time

by Larry Sharp

Over the years I have had various business owners and executives travel with me as I’ve coached and supported companies around the world. On one particular trip, the VP of a Fortune 500 company came with me and some others to a former Soviet Republic country. He had gone on many mission trips, built churches, passed out tracts, and tutored English – all good things! But in Kazakhstan he helped Kazakh believers and expats with business mentoring on topics like making financial projections, contract law, and international marketing. On the trip home he told me that he finally saw how his skills can be used to build the kingdom of God. “Where are we going next?” he asked, after a short time of reflection at home.

I have had many experiences like this, witnessing firsthand the moment business people have felt affirmed and become engaged in using their skills and experience in business as mission. They go from seeing their contribution as limited to PRAY or PAY, and start to realise they can be actively involved – i.e. PLAY! And there are multiple ways for people to get engaged.

For the first time she saw that her business ability and position was a God-given asset.

A young fellow about 30 years old heard me speak in a large mega-church in Pennsylvania. He asked to meet with me and said, “All this is new to me and I don’t think my wife will want to move outside the state, what can I do?” After finding out he was the owner of an SEO company with 14 employees, I said absolutely – and you don’t even have to leave your computer. He has been a wonderful contributor to business startups in unreached areas of the world.

On another occasion, I spoke in a church in the Philadelphia area one Sunday morning. The pastor seemed open to all I spoke about that morning but the real encouragement was talking to several business people afterwards. One woman was a chemical engineer, a former Proctor and Gamble manager who supervised the development of Pampers. She joined our team and helped us with our “product development” when we were just getting going as a BAM consulting group.  Read more

Beyond God Bless You and Merry Christmas

by Mike Sharrow

I grew up in Alaska, in a melting pot of transient people and cultures (there are only 17 of us genuine Alaskans). I embarked on college then early career pursuits at a Fortune 50 company in Chicago where Christianity in the workplace was peculiar and I first wrestled with my own “sacred versus secular” frustrations. Then, in 2006, I moved to Texas and was surprised to find out that “everybody [practically] is Christian here!” At least, I heard a lot of Christianese and there was even a Christian business chamber of commerce.

What Does it Mean to Be a Faith Driven Entrepreneur?

Blown away by this apparent oasis of fellow sojourners in business and the Kingdom, I began to ask every entrepreneur I could “So, what does it mean that you’re a Christ-follower running your business?” With every answer my heart sank.

The top 5 answers I received representing scores of in person surveys:

1. I’m not afraid to say God Bless you or Merry Christmas!

2. We pay people fairly, treat people well and tell the truth (slow clap)

3. We do a good job and I give a fair bit of money away to a lot of good causes

4. Everybody knows I’m a member of Acme Really Christian Church and vote for the Bible believing political party (which I didn’t know that party existed)

5. Can’t you see the fish on my business card!?

I concluded too many people confuse being American or, in this case, Texan, with being citizens of the Kingdom of God operating as called and commission ambassadors stewarding business assets of our Father’s Holding Company for His purposes and His glory.  Read more

Four Essentials of a Working Spirituality

by Peter Shaukat

Having hazarded a comment on the global and ecclesiastical context of our time and offered a rough and ready theology of work, I’d like to outline few suggested essentials of a working spirituality with a missional worldview for the professional or business person.

Embrace the Incarnation of Christ

The first essential is to embrace the incarnation of Christ. Specifically, devotionally, prayerfully to remember and internalize the fact that Jesus walks the Holy Land of your country, your marketplace, your professional sphere through you. You are his hands and feet. You are his mind and word. You are a channel of his redemption and restoration. His promise that we would do greater works than he did in Palestine is surely supported by his promise to be with us and evidenced by the work and witness of practicing Christians in every profession, especially in places where it’s still highly unlikely that the majority have ever seen a Christian engineer, teacher, or businessman.  Read more

The Spirituality of Professional Skills and Business

by Peter Shaukat

This short and surely inadequate article on the place of professional and business skills in spirituality and mission is essentially a plea for Christ-followers to demonstrate and proclaim a wholistic gospel and to pursue authentic whole-life discipleship. In many respects, it reflects one element of my own pilgrimage in mission, which might be described as a long pursuit of an answer to the question: “How do we integrate our Christian faith with our vocational talents and training in a life committed to the global mission enterprise of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?”

My journey thus far is still for me most memorably crystallized when, as a young engineer-in-training experiencing the breakout of Jesus in my personal world, I approached a mission agency leader with the question: “What should I do to serve Christ globally?” The answer I received then was to go to seminary for four years and then come back and see him. His answer may just possibly (but probably quite remotely) have had to do with his perception that perhaps I had certain “ministry gifts” needing development. However, with the passage of more than four decades since that conversation, I am inclined to believe that it had more to do with a pervasive, dichotomous, sacred-secular worldview rooted in Greek Platonic (and Buddhist/Hindu) thought than with the biblical, integrated notions of shalom, holiness, and service. Since then, by God’s grace, through observing the modeling of Christ’s virtues in the lives of hundreds of fellow-travelers, imbibing five decades of studying Scripture on a personal devotional level, embracing divinely appointed circumstances, and following personally chosen pathways on five continents, some progress in answering that question first posed in the 1970s is slowly being made.  Read more

Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever!

by Mats Tunehag

I hope very few people will talk about Business as Mission (BAM) in the future. The term is like scaffolding; it is needed for a season as we build a new paradigm and praxis: businesses that glorify God and bring about holistic transformation of people and societies.

The term BAM has its merits in clarification of the concept. The term has been helpful in the affirmation of business people and the mobilization of resources. But the term is not important – the concept and the applications are.

Many Terms, Similar Concepts

In the general business world, there are also several terms for businesses that aim at multiple bottom-lines serving multiple stakeholders. Some examples are social enterprise, creative capitalism, conscious capitalism, corporate social responsibility, and inclusive business. Different terms, but very similar concept.

Some people dislike the term BAM or question its usefulness. Other phrases are used, such as business for transformation, Kingdom companies, missional business or business as integral calling.

Even this article highlights a limitation regarding terminology: it is in English. There are about 6,000 other languages in the world.  Read more