The Vital Place of Mission Agencies in the BAM Movement

by Jo Plummer

Mission Agencies have long been a crucial player and partner in the contemporary BAM movement.

Many early pioneer BAM practitioners of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s either came from a missionary background or were members of a mission agency. These agency workers- turned-BAMers were at the forefront of the early wave of BAM companies because they were already at the front lines. Sent out with a call and vision to see people and communities transformed by the gospel, they discovered that business could be a powerful means of integral mission – meeting spiritual, social and economic needs in communities.

Looking back on 20 years and more of recent BAM history, we see that companies with missional goals embedded within their business model, business culture, company values, working relationships and so on, have often proved to be the most fruitful way for agency workers to pursue their work. But it has not always been easy.

Business failure – already a high possibility for seasoned entrepreneurs in home cultures – became a common experience for missionary-run startups with the additional hazard of being in environments often hostile to both mission and business. Many missionaries are by nature pioneering and somewhat entrepreneurial, however most early agency-related BAMers lacked the know-how and practical business experience they needed to create sustainable, scalable companies. Early BAM companies had few models to follow and lessons were learned the hard way.

Those hard-won fruitful practices are now being passed on, benefiting the current generation of BAM practitioners. They are able to stand on the shoulders of a host of early BAMers (from both business and mission backgrounds) because those pioneers heard the Lord and were willing to go, they were willing to innovate, risk and persevere. In turn, these early BAM pioneers stood on the shoulders of many generations of traditional missionaries that passed on their own hard-won lessons.

Beyond ‘Business as Visa’

Necessity is the mother of invention. In some parts of the world, starting a business has long been the only viable means to establish a settled, credible role in a community. William Carey, right back in the late 1700s, took a management position in an indigo factory when he first arrived in India because missionary visas were hard to come by in the days of the East India Company. And like William Carey*, modern day mission workers soon discovered that the power of a business model extends far beyond a means to getting a visa. (Read more on how it extends here).

Thankfully most agency workers who are getting into business now have many more resources to draw on. They understand that to have a credible, sustainable role in a community, their company has to be credible and sustainable. That means aiming towards excellence in business practice and the true integration of holistic missional goals into every aspect of a company – from business plan, to daily business life.  Read more

Discipling Marketplace Leaders: The Power of Church and BAM Partnerships

by Renita Reed-Thomson & Dr. Phil Walker

A Kenyan pastor approached us following our workshop and said, “Church begins on Monday. Sunday is ‘garage/maintenance time’ to prepare for that.” The lightbulb had gone on. It is the lightbulb that reminds pastors and church leaders that the Church gathers on Sunday for the purpose of being equipped to be scattered on Monday, shining the light of Christ everywhere they go. Unfortunately, the Global Church tends to be inward focused, defining itself as a building or by programs, rather than the people. While the majority of adult members in our churches spend the majority of their time in their workplace, we do not disciple them to the purpose of doing their work as an act of worship. Discipling Marketplace Leaders is seeking to remedy this as it brings the work of Business as Mission into the Church.

Finding Common Ground

In 2012 Dr. Phil Walker (President and co-founder of International Christian Ministries) was conducting a leadership seminar in Accra, Ghana. Renita Reed-Thomson (Regional Director for a BAM ministry) was attending the seminar with her team. At the break, she began sharing with Phil about the challenges of the BAM movement. While successful in helping Christian business owners grow in their ability to operate successful businesses, she was concerned about their spiritual journey (Deuteronomy 8:18). It was easy to see financial growth, but hard to know if they were growing in their walk with the Lord. Phil discussed his frustration with the local church and its inability to substantially impact the community by empowering members to be light and leaven in the community. Phil invited Renita to Kitale, Kenya, to teach a course on Church-based Business as Mission at ICM’s Africa Theological Seminary.

Over the initial months of teaching pastors, Renita saw a dramatic change in their perspective regarding business and work. Teaching business as a calling, supported theologically, pastors shifted from business as a “necessary evil,” to business as calling, contributing to fulfilling the Great Commitment of Genesis 1:28. Renita shared with other BAM practitioners about integrating BAM formally with the church. They said BAM and the local church could not find common ground for working together. Some stated that the church is “too difficult” to work with and therefore should be side-stepped. Renita decided on a research project to test whether the faith and work movement was possible within the local church. From 2013-2015, Renita conducted an 18-month research study, in three cities with six churches and 260 businesses.  Read more

The Academic Engine: Academic and BAM Practitioner Collaboration

by Mick Bates, D. Mgt

Jim Collins, the late Peter Drucker and Michael Porter are near household names in the business world. What do they have in common? They are academics who have impacted the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations around the world. Yes, their work also influences BAM organizations, but what if there was a cadre of academics who focused on helping BAM companies be all they can be in transforming economies, being social change agents, bringing the gospel to a world in need and helping the planet?

Academics interested in BAM are out there, but the challenge at hand is to bring them together in a way that creates critical mass. You might say this sounds good, by why does it matter?

How Academics Add Value to BAM

Academics, just as those mentioned above, are uniquely positioned to add value to the BAM movement, specifically in the areas of research, practitioner support and student engagement. Their ability to apply disciplined research techniques to BAM problems gives reliable and valid data that goes beyond the “gut-feel” of the BAM practitioners to what is really happening in the BAM space. The broad perspectives and experiences of the BAM academic can bring effective training, best practices and education to BAMers and their constituencies thereby providing an immediate boost to business productivity and evangelism effectiveness. BAM academics, by virtue of their classrooms, are also principal seed-planters for the next generation of possible BAMers. It is the academic who generally drives the engagement of students with the concept of BAM, practitioners in the field, and doors to experiences with people groups around the world. The academic with an orientation toward BAM, can be a focal point for real-time added value. An academic network with collaborative partnerships with BAM practitioners can be a driver, an “engine,” if you like, for future impact.

Barriers to Entry

You might say this sounds great, but why have we not seen more academics involved in BAM? The challenge with any start-up or movement is often overcoming the barriers to entry. For the academic with a heart toward BAM, this is particularly relevant. For instance, the faith element of BAM causes friction for the business academic who has responsibilities to publish in their area of discipline. There are very few publishing outlets for business academics that recognize the role of faith in business success. Consequently, researching and writing about BAM may create limitations in the academic’s ability to be published. If the BAM movement wants more legitimate research, it must help in creating publishing opportunities for academics.

A somewhat related barrier is that much of the BAM activity is in areas of the world where security is a concern. This inhibits communication, the willingness of people to offer specific information, and the danger of publishing stories. This is becoming a bigger issue as social media makes it easier to “out” people doing BAM work.

Finally, the individualistic nature of the academic pulls against the need to come together, share and collaborate. These barriers seem formidable, but they also create opportunities.

Opportunities at Hand

Opportunity for the BAM movement and interested academics is encapsulated with the posture that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. God inspires and empowers individuals, but it is relationship in community that brings change. Getting BAM practitioners, academics and others working together is the opportunity at hand. This can occur in joint research and other collaboration activities, for example, engaging students in cross-institutional projects or trips, or faculty working together in consulting engagements to maximize value for the BAM practitioner. For instance, how cool would it be to have students and faculty from different institutions working together on a research or consulting project? Then, the faculty members could present their results together at a BAM conference or other academic forum. The BAM practitioner, students and academics achieve wins all around.

There are pockets of these types of academic collaborations occurring in isolated instances, but how can we catalyze these into beneficial community experiences? One way is to become involved in the BAM Academics network.

Invitation to Connect

BAM Academics is a group of higher education professionals dedicated to the promotion and support of the Business as Mission movement. The group accomplishes this in their daily activities in colleges and universities around the world with special emphasis on BAM-oriented research agendas and BAM practitioner support. The goal of the group is to foster closer ties between academics, to generate momentum in areas of common interest, and ultimately, to bring value to the global BAM movement.

Additionally, the Academics Track at the annual BAM Conference USA and the upcoming BAM Global Congress 2020 are an excellent way to meet, engage and collaborate. Not only do participants receive valuable information and new ideas, the relationships formed here often lead to unexpected scholarly, student engagement and consulting opportunities.

I invite BAM practitioners and others to connect with academics to share needs, hopes and desires as they relate to productivity, employment/internships and empowering the movement. You can start the conversation via email to academics@bamglobal.org where you will be connected with potential resources.

Request for Proposals

The BAM Global Congress will be held in Jomtien, Thailand from 29 April to 3 May 2020. It is anticipated there will be over 1,000 people from all over the world in attendance.

As part of Academics Track for the Congress, the BAM Academics network is soliciting proposals for presenting papers, briefings on academic work in support of BAM, or relevant discussion panels. Each session of 20-30 minutes will bring valuable information to academics, practitioners and supporters of BAM. To make a proposal for consideration, please follow this link, BAM Global Congress Proposal Submission, and enter the requested information no later than 31 December 2019. Offers to present will be made no later than 30 January 2020.

As you consider about how you might contribute to the BAM Academics track, I encourage you to think in terms of Boyer’s Scholarship Model that addresses the scholarship of Discovery, Integration, Application, and Teaching and Learning. This model provides more flexibility and value points for academics to contribute to BAM in a variety of ways. Regardless, if you have engaged with BAM in an “academic” way, please submit a proposal. We all learn from each other.

Whether you present or not, I encourage you to consider attending this important global conference. I guarantee you will come away with some new ideas, new friends and inspired. Finally, please do not hesitate to forward this information to likeminded people in academia and do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of service in any way.

Finally, the late Peter Drucker once posited that management was a liberal art, “’liberal’ because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom and leadership: ‘art’ because it is also concerned with practice and application” (Drucker, 2001, p. 13). I believe we can extrapolate these thoughts to a similar recognition of BAM and its quadruple bottom-line by academia. I hope to see you at the BAM Global Congress in 2020.

 

Drucker, P. (2001). The essential Drucker. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

 


Dr. Mick Bates
has developed a passion for imbuing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in others. He has spent the last 16 years in higher education, primarily as the Founding Program Chair and Associate Professor for Business Administration at Life Pacific College, and currently Associate Professor of Marketing at Taylor University. Prior to that, Mick spent 20 years in business in call center technology start-ups.

 

 

This month on The BAM Review blog, we are focusing on the four major constituencies within the BAM community: BusinessAcademia, Church and Agencies.

Read other post in series >>
Four Constituencies in the BAM Movement: Business and Beyond
Discipling Marketplace Leaders: The Power of Church and BAM Partnerships
The Vital Place of Mission Agencies in the BAM Movement

 

Have your say on social media on this topic by following us on Twitter or Facebook.

Join us at the BAM Global Congress, the ‘one stop shop’ for the global business as mission movement. The Congress is open to everyone interested and only happens every seven years, so don’t miss this chance to connect with BAM leaders from every continent! Find out more information about the Congress here.

 

 

The BAM Global Congress in April next year will reflect the four major constituencies of BAM, including:

  • An Academic Track
  • A Church Track
  • An Agency Track

Plus, Business topics and sub-tracks of all kinds:

  • BAM stories and cases
  • BAM planning and start-up
  • BAM operations
  • BAM incubation and investment
  • Practical integration of business and missional objectives
  • Industry-specific Roundtables
  • The application of BAM to tackling human trafficking and poverty
  • The application of BAM to taking the gospel to the unreached
  • And many more.

 

 

 

Four Constituencies in the BAM Movement: Business and Beyond

It is stating the obvious to say that a major part of the international BAM community is made up of businesses and business people. This is business as mission. We see the great commission and the great commandment to love our neighbour fulfilled in the daily context of company life; lived out through business men and women faithfully sharing the love of Christ in word and deed. Businesses and business people are a core constituency of the BAM movement.

However, these companies and business people will not thrive outside of a healthy ecosystem made up of many types of individuals, skills, perspectives, and institutions. We will not reach a tipping point for macro impact through business as mission unless our business constituency is connected to and supported by a much broader network. Therefore, we see that the BAM global community is made up of four major constituencies; leaders from business, mission, church and academia.

BAM thought-leader Peter Shaukat expresses this same idea as the 4 As: 1

  • Academy: scholars and educational institutions
  • Agency: mission agencies, yes, but also other kinds of entities with specialist functions
  • Assembly: local churches and congregations
  • Actualizers: the business people who run business as mission enterprises

The Four Major Constituencies in the BAM Movement

 

At the same time, we are part of a broader movement of God’s people following Christ in many arenas. The BAM movement should also be more broadly connected to, and overlapping with, like-movements, such as ‘Justice as Mission’, ‘Education as Mission’, ‘Art as Mission’ and so on. Business as mission is not a “silver bullet” and we should see our place among those that the Lord is raising up in all spheres of society.  Read more

Moving From Anxiety to Freedom as a Kingdom Entrepreneur

by Stu Minshew

 

Fear vs. Anxiety

Restless nights, imagining disaster scenarios, legs bouncing up and down, gulping caffeine to push through, poor concentration, irritable – Do any of these sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. Fear and anxiety, and their associated mental and physical markers, are extremely prevalent in the entrepreneurial world.

If you’re like me, I bet you can quickly name at least 3 fears or anxieties that you currently have about your business.

Do we have enough money in the bank?

Will our product or service sell?

What if my co-founder quits?

What if I get fired by my board?

Who’s my next major competitor?

Often, we think that once we reach our next business milestone, fear and anxiety will magically dissipate. Like me, you’ve probably found this isn’t true. In fact, each new milestone usually compounds my fears. The bigger you play, the bigger the stakes, the bigger the fears.

Success, higher profitability, and a bigger income doesn’t solve our problems and eliminate our fears. Thinking that it will is a lie Satan and our culture tells us on a routine basis. They are not bad goals in and of themselves, but when we turn them into mini “saviors”, they can have devastating effects on our mental and spiritual wellbeing.

Give It a Name

To break free from our fear and anxiety, we must begin by knowing when we are experiencing it.

Our fears often live in our subconscious, so we sometimes fail to notice when they are running the show. That’s why we need to be able to identify the mental and physical markers – insomnia, poor concentration, feeling down on yourself, jittery, eyes twitching, experiencing racing or unwanted thoughts, avoiding challenges, etc.

When you experience these markers, you’ll need to dig deeper to get to the root fears and anxieties causing them. If you are currently experiencing this, take some time to pray that the Holy Spirit will help reveal your root fears and anxieties.  Read more

Entrepreneur Mental Wellness Needs a New Story

by Stu Minshew

 

The Big Problem

As a global society, we’re having much more productive conversations about mental wellbeing. In many places, we’ve begun to normalize the struggles we all face, seek help, and encourage others to do the same. Yet some days, and in some circles, it feels like we still have a long way to go. I believe entrepreneur circles and startup communities have some work to do in this regard.

I’ve been in entrepreneur circles for many years and I wouldn’t change that for anything. But there is a problem, and as followers of Christ, we have the freedom and responsibility to shine the light on this problem. Doing so allows us to talk about it with openness and honesty in order to lovingly serve and care for our brothers and sisters who are entrepreneurs.

Businesses Creates Change

Business, and entrepreneurship in particular, can be and have been powerful change agents for God’s Kingdom. For thousands of years, business has transformed communities, cities, nations, and the globe. It has helped pull millions of people out of poverty.

Sadly, business has also had its share of greed-fueled disasters that have negatively impacted thousands of people, or even whole populations. Thankfully, these instances only represent a small portion of the history of business. The global story of business is filled with examples of positive impact. It has been used to drive development, education, and innovation. For those following Jesus, it creates opportunities to join His work to usher in the Kingdom. 

I see glimpses of God’s Kingdom in the world of entrepreneurship. The vast majority of Christian entrepreneurs I know are deeply committed to making a difference. Are they looking to make a profit and have more control over their schedule? Absolutely! But they also believe their product or service is glorifying God and improving their lives of their customers.

Many seek to improve the lives of their employees and point them to Christ. Others use the freedom created by entrepreneurship to transform their family or community. It may take on many forms, but Christian entrepreneurs are helping usher in God’s Kingdom.  Read more

BAM Endurance: Principles and Habits for Long-term Fruitfulness

One of the foundations of business as mission is that the company must be profitable and sustainable – otherwise how can it be a business long-term? We know that making sales, maintaining cash-flow and reaching profitability are a non-negotiables for BAM company health. Commercial success is critical.

But what else besides commercial success is vital to the endurance of a BAM company – or indeed to the BAM practitioners who run it?

Endurance vs Attrition

Missionary attrition is a term adopted by ‘member care’ experts to describe missionaries quitting the field earlier than planned and the factors that contribute to that. There is much we can learn from the wider mission community about the causes and cures of stress and attrition, however, when you add a commercial operation into the mix, there is an added layer of complexity.

What are the stressors common to business as mission that wear down a company’s chances of long-term survival? What causes practitioners to give up and go home? What causes BAM attrition, and conversely, what helps BAMers endure? Read more

Turn Off the Lights to Share the Light: Why Good Environmental Practice is Great Business Practice

by Mark Polet

There is a misconception that good environmental management always costs money. Well, sometimes it does seem to cost when externalities are not costed fully (waste management, air and water pollution control) or when the company is not managed properly (contamination). 

Turn Off the Lights so You can Share the Light

However, there is another area of sound business management where good environmental management saves money. It’s called efficiency.

In short, turn off the lights.

It is easy for all of us to fall into complacency or just get too busy to really manage our costs, especially in the challenging places where you work. That is why we are looking for quick wins. The first quick win my colleagues and I have noted in working for Kingdom Companies is energy efficiency.

Turn off the lights when you leave! I find it remarkable how many times energy is wasted in companies, even where energy availability is inconsistent. We have seen whole factories lit up with not a soul in them.

Manage your air conditioning.  25°C (77°F) is often recommended, no cooler. If  you have your suit jacket on while you work at your desk, something may be wrong.

BAM is in the relationship business, and enrolling staff in Creation Care is one more step in discipleship.

Watch for phantom power costs. Turn off appliances when not in use. 

Many electronic appliances (i.e. monitor screens) are still drawing power even when ‘off’. If at all possible, shut off at the main plug.

Read more

Messy Site, Messy Company: Aiming for Environmental Excellence

by Mark Polet

When it comes to running a good business, cleanliness really is next to godliness.

I want to explore with you why you who are pursuing excellence in business need to weave good environmental practice into your operations.

Messy Site, Messy Company

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company. Because poor environmental practice is often quite visible in a disorderly site and disorganized operations, it is often the most evident warning bell to any investor or customer that something is wrong with this firm.

Why do I stay that? After over forty years of assessing companies for environmental excellence, including Kingdom-Oriented firms, there is one correlation in my experience that always holds.

If the site is a mess, the accounting is a mess.

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company.

A messy site means messed up books. I have reviewed firms across a score of industry groups. At times I will come across a  company that has an unkempt site. Sometimes it is debris lying around; other times it is  far worse, with spills contaminating the soil. In all cases, I find as I continue my audit that their financial records are equally messy, and their regulatory compliance is spotty at best. The management of their supply chain was poor. The amount of waste they generate, both in lost productivity and actual, physical waste, is evident.  Read more

Should Environmental Concerns Be a Priority for a Christian Business Owner?

In June this year, the Lausanne Movement gathered more than 700 Christian leaders from 109 nations in Manila for its Global Workplace Forum. Among the many topics discussed was where creation care should rank among other Christian concerns like evangelism and discipleship.

Should environmental concerns be a major priority for a Christian business owner? Here are the answers of Lausanne leaders:

 

Ed Brown, executive director of Care of Creation and Lausanne Catalyst for Creation Care (United States):

Yes! Without question, for two reasons. The first is uniquely Christian: obedience. Taking care of God’s world by responsibly caring for God’s creatures (Genesis 1) and by “tending the garden” (Genesis 2) was our first assignment from God. Lausanne’s Cape Town Commitment appropriately calls caring for God’s world “a gospel issue under the lordship of Christ.” This first task has never been taken away from us. Christian business owners are to be more than sound financial stewards and Christlike shepherds of our workforce; we’re called to be keepers of God’s garden.

The second is not uniquely Christian, but important nonetheless: survival. Business owners need to be concerned for the survival of the business, but also for the survival of the human race, including their community, customer base, and their own children and grandchildren. Yes, profit is needed for economic survival, but profit can’t be made in a collapsing world. Economic activity is a root cause of the environmental crisis, and wise businesspeople recognize that environmental collapse threatens their own business’ future, as well as the lives of their own grandchildren. Those who can run their businesses in ways that do not damage God’s creation will both survive and prosper.

 

Las Newman, Lausanne’s Global Associate Director for Regions (Jamaica):

Yes. Good business makes good sense. How can a Christian business operator witness for Christ and at the same time abuse his workers, short-change his customers, ignore environmental standards, contribute to environmental pollution, and affect the ecological balance of nature? Good business depends on three things: profitability that ensures return on investment for growth and development; care for the welfare of the people who help to produce such return on investment (i.e., workers and customers); and good environment for business that enhances the quality of human life and honors the Lord. Business operators in the aviation, food handling, transportation, tourism, earth extractive, manufacturing, and retail industries, among others, now recognize the importance of corporate social responsibility and include a green policy agenda to their business, including support of the arts.  Read more