Getting Out, Getting In, Staying In, Sinking In: Church Planting and Business Today

by João Mordomo

Last week in Part 1 I looked at Paul’s exploits as a maker of tents and concluded that business and church planting were made for each other! Properly configured, church planting teams and business startup teams can be one and the same. There are many good reasons that we ought to consider seriously the benefits of this model in missions today. Here are just four of them.

Getting Out

Many conventional church planting missionaries simply cannot get out of the starting blocks and to the field due to a lack of financial resources. This is especially true right now in Brazil, where I am based. “Difficult” is often an understatement when it comes to raising and maintaining a donor base. The overall economic situation in many countries is characterized by some combination of various ills such as poverty, corruption, inflation and weak currencies. But should potential missionaries be disqualified from serving the Lord cross-culturally simply because their churches either donʼt have, or don’t think they have, the resources to send them? The obvious answer is no. BAM is a model that can creatively access and utilize the numerous resources that can be found – and not just money, but talent and people, especially the so-called and often undervalued “laypeople” – for Godʼs global glory.

But the financial benefit is only the first of four, and the traditional missionary model – even when the missionary manages to raise all of his or her support – does not usually provide the next three benefits for cross-cultural church planting among unreached peoples in restricted access nations. Read more

Business and Church Planting: Made for Each Other!

by João Mordomo

In recent years, many people have begun to more fully appreciate the huge power and potential of business as mission as both a means to enter into contexts where missionaries are unwelcome, and a mechanism to catalyze church planting among unreached peoples. In fact, while other models often work in other contexts, BAM is distinctly qualified to open doors where the Gospel and church planting often are most needed. I won’t say “uniquely” qualified because I don’t want to get an influx of emails calling me a BAM extremist, but I will admit I lean in that direction!

Yet while the power of BAM to catalyze church planting becomes increasingly apparent to us, this relationship is not a new one. Luke, in apparently hyperbolic fashion, wrote in Acts 19:10 that in a period of two years, “all the residents of Asia (roughly today’s Turkey) heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” What was he thinking? Surely a medical doctor and historian would never resort to such embellishment of the truth! Read more

How Not to Be Weird: Living Lives That Make Sense

by Patrick Lai

When we first started working with Muslims we had a traditional approach. We tried to meet people on the streets and in our neighborhood to share the Gospel. We’d ride buses, go to the gym, hang out in parks. When we could get people into a conversation we’d try to turn the discussion to spiritual things and then Jesus. Despite our efforts we did not have great success. 

When we stepped back and considered our approach we realized not many people engage in discussions with strangers in public places. For example, how many lasting friendships do you have that first started on a bus? What we were doing was not natural, it’s not the way people meet other people. Most people build friendships either through their extended family, their place of worship, or their place of work. The way we were meeting people was weird. Read more

Why Integrate Business and Church Planting?

There are some good reasons to combine business and church planting. Indeed, combining the two did not just begin when missionaries could not find visas to live in closed countries. Instead, there has been a natural merging of business, church planting and the presentation of the gospel throughout church history.

The apostle Paul himself was a tentmaker, or small business owner. He supported himself and saw this strategy as being beneficial for church planting. For example, among the Thessalonians, Paul “Worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while [he] preached the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:9). This example was needed to teach the Thessalonians that they also were to work and not be idle (2 Thessalonians 3:8-9). In Corinth, Paul did not accept payment from the people in order to clarify the message of the gospel, making it clear that the his preaching was not tied to financial gain (1 Corinthians 9, 2 Corinthians 12). Yet Paul’s tentmaking was not absolute; he would accept support and be “fully devoted” to preaching and teaching where there was support and when the context was appropriate (Acts 18:5). Read more