The Real Finish Line: Maximising Missional Potential

How do you know your BAM project is achieving all it can for the Kingdom of God?

This is a challenging questions to answer for many leaders of BAM projects.  Often at a loss as how to measure anything spiritual, it leads to those nebulous statements such as: ‘Jesus is the centre of everything we do’ when questioned.

But it doesn’t have to be nebulous.

It IS possible to measure the progress towards your spiritual goals, but in order to do that you need to know what the target is.

Key Concept – Missional Potential

Not all BAM projects are able to impact for the Kingdom at the same level.  When we opened a data entry company that had Christian employees working for Christian customers, we realised that this was a very limited ‘fishing pool’ from which we were able to impact the Kingdom through evangelism.  The enterprise just didn’t ‘touch’ many people who were not already Christian.

As a response, we opened a bakery in a much busier part of town.  The bakery, by way of the nature of its business model, had many more interactions with people ‘far from God’ and so had much more potential for reaching people for Christ.

Is it fair to expect the data entry business to achieve the same level of spiritual fruit as the bakery?  We think not.  So what is the standard we are measuring the projects by?

The answer?  Each project needs to maximise its missional potential.

The Real Finish Line

By evaluating what the full missional potential is for your project, you now have a target to shoot for.  A finish line to work towards.

If we simplify the missional discussion to evangelism only, then the maximum missional potential for the data entry project is understandably far smaller than that of the bakery.  At the data entry project, we could potentially reach our suppliers (people who provided and fixed our computers for example), but our customers and staff were already Christians.  We would need to look for other areas to impact for the Kingdom of God.  Perhaps introducing discipleship for the staff that they could take home, and maybe evangelism training for them to use within their communities outside of work.

The bakery, however, was in a different league of missional potential.  Almost every interaction was with someone far from God.  We were based in an impoverished community, and both our staff and workers were not Jesus followers.  So considering what our outreach goals could be would need to be much more ambitious if we were going to maximise the missional potential of the bakery.

Are Quantifiable Targets Possible?

The idea of maximising your missional potential may be intuitively easy to understand, but how do you lead an organisation to targets without something quantifiable?  This may be a primary reason why BAM projects tend to shy away from measuring themselves in terms of spiritual fruitfulness:  They do not feel equipped to know how to measure what feels like a God ordained process.

We agree that people coming to Jesus is a God ordained process. At the same time, we feel it is possible to measure the project’s effort of effective exposure (EEE) to the gospel.

Our experience both doing effective outreach ourselves, and also comparing notes with some of the best in the world who do it, is that there are steps that lead to effective evangelism that can measured, and this is where quantifiable goals can be created.

For instance if you use the Four Missional Milestones referenced in the A Case Study – Applying Outreach In Business, it is possible to do analysis on the potential of your project to reach each milestone, and set realistic goals of applying the techniques necessary to reach those milestones through your project.

Application

For example, the first milestone is Connect, with a goal to get to the second milestone Share.  Your first step may be to analyse all the potential people your business touches that might be far from God.  From there you then analyse how many of those interactions are potential for EEE.  You then can set a target for 1) training your Christian team members with the skills for EEE, 2) measuring their performance of achieving EEE in Connect to Share.

Ultimately, you can measure numerically how much of your missional potential you are realising in reaching Connect, and the how many of those reached in the Connect phase are getting to the next milestone Share.  From there, you measure how many are moving from Share to the next milestone Gather and on and on.  You have now quantified your missional potential and are setting SMART goals that help you understand how much of that potential you are realising.

Conclusion

Understanding your project’s maximum missional potential can be a key step in achieving the Spiritual Bottom Line your project exists to fulfil. It allows you to set realistic goals for your team, and measure outcomes that can then be relayed back to investors, supporters or other key stakeholders who are supporting the project in order to see God glorified through the project.

It also helps to prevent you from going red-faced when asked what you are achieving for the Kingdom as you tell the questioner that ‘Jesus is the centre of everything we do’.

 

Article first published on the Business and Mission website, reposted with kind permission.

Business and Mission.org is a network of leaders each with decades of international entrepreneurial experience, but also comparable experience in effective outreach. The network was founded by Colin Crawley. Colin served for 8 years as the CEO of a UK missions agency based out of central London and prior to that served as the Executive Director for a California based global Business as Mission group for 5 years. Colin has a global background having lived in Hong Kong, the US, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. He enjoys meeting and learning from other leaders from all over the world who are passionate about seeing God’s Kingdom come.

 

 

Three Practical Steps to Experiencing the Spiritual Potential of Your Business

by Dave Kahle

Almost every Christian businessperson has a sense that there is potential in their businesses or professions to make a greater impact for the Kingdom. Unfortunately, the idea is often too vague and unformed in our minds, and therefore seems overwhelming. With no direction from the local congregation, and all the noise surrounding us from the purveyors of worldly wisdom, it’s no wonder we’re confused.

Here are three specific steps that every Christian businessperson and professional can implement to tip the edge of their basket a bit and allow more of their light to shine in the marketplaces that they inhabit.

1.  Embed prayer more deeply into your routines

When God told us to bring everything to him in prayer, he meant exactly that.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6

For many of us, the notion of praying, in depth and detail, for every aspect of our business or professional lives is a novel idea. But it is exactly what we are commanded to do. A business is rich with the fodder through which God loves to engage with us. Think of the thousands of decisions that could be informed by a nudge from the Lord:

  • Employee issues – who to hire, who to promote, to whom to give raises, how much and when, who to train, who to discipline, who to encourage, who to terminate.  Just this category alone can keep us on our knees for hours.
  • Customer issues – who to pursue, who to withdraw from, for whom to make concessions, how aggressively to pursue late payments, how close to get to whom, etc.
  • Financial issues – what to charge, should you borrow, how much and from whom, should you sign a lease, etc.
  • Vendor issues – who to buy from, who to pay, who to nurture, who to hold at arm’s length, how much of what to buy.
  • Personal time and priority management – there are a thousand things to do, but not all of them should be done.  How do we effectively allocate and focus our time and energy?

I could go on and on, but you understand the point. Being a responsible person in a business puts you in the middle of thousands of decisions. It’s like playing racquet ball against three people at once – balls are flying at you from every direction, and you must successfully manage them.

The overwhelming challenge of the marketplace these days just naturally drives the committed Christian to prayer. The challenge is to take what is a natural impulse and turn it into a habitual, dedicated routine. Here’s the way some have done that:

a.  Begin each day, on the job, with a dedicated prayer time.

This means you dedicate the first 15 – 30 minutes of your workday to a conversation with God about the challenges of the day.

You may want to walk the floor, greet each employee and see if there is anything for which you can pray for that person.

Or, you may want to take your calendar for the day, note the decisions you’ll need to make, and make that the focus of your prayer.

b.  Find someone else to regularly pray with you at least once a week.

Make it a regularly scheduled event. Certainly, there are some Christians in your organization or sphere of influence who would be eager to pray with you for the business that provides their livelihood.

You may want to make this prayer opportunity available to everyone, and welcome all participants, or you may want to seek out and enlist one or more special people. For years, my customer service manager and I met in my office, early every Monday morning, 20 minutes before the workday began, and lifted up the week’s events to the Lord.

c.  Gather a prayer team, who will commit to praying for the business at least once a week.

Provide them with a weekly list of challenges and upcoming decisions.

Once you commit to this, the members of the prayer team will eventually appear. I have a group of about eight people who have committed to pray for the business on one day each week. I send them a prayer list every Saturday morning, with the expectation that they are lifting my issues up to the Lord. This process of compiling the weekly list keeps me focused on the most important things, forces me to commit to them on paper, and gives me the confidence to know that prayer surrounds all the major decisions and events in the business.

While prayer is an instinctive response to the overwhelming world will live in, by formalizing it and making it a part of your business routines, you move to a higher level of communication with God than if you leave it to the impulses of the moment.

2.  Rewrite your foundational documents, acknowledging God in them

We’ve all heard about the value of creating a vision, mission and values statement for the business or our profession. I suspect that most Christian businesses have such a set of documents. What is often missing, however, is a written, formal acknowledgement of God’s involvement with the business.

Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. Matthew 10:32, 33

There is a sense of humility and confidence that comes from the act of acknowledging God’s ownership of the business. The fact that you are in the position you are in whether it be ownership, executive position, sales responsibility, or professional practice, the truth is that you were put there by God’s involvement in your life.

When you acknowledge that, in writing, you take a stand and make a commitment. Everyone who reads those documents, whether they be a part of every new employee orientation, the information pack you give to prospective employers, your website, or posted on the lunchroom wall, will know exactly where you stand.

That requires a bit of humility on your part. By acknowledging God’s ownership and involvement in the business, you naturally give him the credit for whatever success that business has, instead of yourself.

But there is also a sense of freedom and confidence that comes with that. If God is for you, who can be against you?

So, make the issue of the exact wording of these documents a matter for the prayer and prayer team, and then craft the words that seem best to you and inspired by God into your foundational documents.

3.  Work diligently at creating a Christian business culture

Wikipedia defines corporate culture this way:

Organizational culture encompasses values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business. The organizational culture influences the way people interact, the context within which knowledge is created, the resistance they will have towards certain changes, and ultimately the way they share (or the way they do not share) knowledge. Organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of organizational members and is a product of factors such as history, product, market, technology, strategy, type of employees, management style, and national culture; culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, environment, location, beliefs and habits.

For the Christian businessperson, the culture of the organization is where the values, attitudes, and behaviors of the principals ooze out into the organization and ultimately influence everyone’s behavior. The principals set the standard.  Culture, when done well, proceeds from the top down.

Here’s a simple approach to get you started. Use this phrase often, “Because I’m a Christian, we are going to…”

This should come as no surprise to anyone, as they already know you are a Christian organization (see #2 above). This language, then, makes the connection between your beliefs and your expectation for everyone’s actions. It gives the glory to God, and when done sincerely and repetitively, will move the company’s attitudes, beliefs and actions to a place that will shine your light more brightly.

  

This article is adapted from a post first published on the Biblical Business blog here.

Dave KahleDave Kahle has been a Bible teacher, elder, house church leader, short-term missionary and Christian executive roundtable leader. For 30 years, he has been an authority on sales and sales systems, having spoken in 47 states and eleven countries. He has authored 13 books, including The Good Book on Business. Sign up for his weekly messages here.

More from Dave at: www.davekahle.com and www.thebiblicalbusiness.com.

 

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Join Dave Kahle as he explores what the Bible has to say about businesses and your role in leading a kingdom oriented business.  You’ll uncover Biblical truths that you may have never seen before. Your views on business will never be the same.

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Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

 

What is Success? Advancing Spiritual Impact in BAM

by Tom

It is easy to be confused by how success in business as mission (BAM) is defined today from a spiritual perspective.

Once-upon-a-time the core concept of BAM was to have a spiritual impact. The reality that a business needed to be profitable should also have been a given, after all, a business that does not make money can’t survive or, as we say in BAM, cannot be sustainable. Even with this relative simplicity, being able to measure spiritual impact seemed elusive.

Early definitions struggled between Business AS Mission and Business FOR Mission both of which held that a central purpose was spiritual transformation. Early theological debates centered around the secular-sacred divide, could business even be spiritual? There were common perceptions of money and profit, often portrayed as evil and exploitive among Christians, that needed to be overcome. Business AS Mission assumed that when operations aligned with spiritual values, businesses could and would produce spiritual results when driven by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Business FOR Mission simply used the profits of a business to support traditional missional activity.

Today the definition of BAM has expanded to include an emphasis on poverty alleviation and job creation etc., issues that are also popular in the secular social enterprise world. However, one danger we face is that while we are expanding, we might also lose what makes us distinctive, appearing to put less and less emphasis on spirituality or spiritual impact. Yet, without intentional spiritual impact BAM is not any different than any well-meaning secular program.

Twenty years on from the early days of the business as mission movement, we continue to wrestle with this topic of spiritual impact in BAM!  Read more

Grand Openings and Grand Opportunities: A BAM Story

We’re so excited to be open! After 3 years of planning, preparation, cutting through swathes or red tape, remodelling, investment-raising and long days of hard work, the day of our café grand opening was nearly perfect. Lots of customers showed up, neighbors congratulated and welcomed us, and we received lots of positive feedback.

Everyone who walks in says nearly the same thing; some version of, “Wow, this place is beautiful, and so comfortable and relaxing. I might not leave!”

It is gratifying to see people come in and enjoy our products and our service, and then come back again. We have already noticed how this business is giving us greater inroads to be able to share Jesus with people.

New Connections

The most encouraging thing about the opening of our café is the greater openness and acceptance from people that it has provided. The next door neighbor to our shop, who we’ve waved at and attempted to engage with over the past three years, has become our most frequent customer. He brought his family over and introduced them, and has begun having client meetings at our cafe. And, new people are coming around as well. We recently met Lek who was walking buy, decided to stop in, and then asked if I could talk for a minute. We talked about the business and then about him for over an hour. In a couple of weeks, we’re going to meet at another coffee shop in town to work on his English and my Thai.  Read more

Procurement and Technology Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In this series of blog posts, we have been looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we have also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this sixth and final part of the series, we continue to examine the support activities of the value chain, this time focusing on Procurement and Technology.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

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Human Resource Management Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In this series of blog posts, we have been looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we have also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this fifth part of the series, we continue to examine the support activities of the value chain, this time focusing on Human Resource Management.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

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The Role of Business Leadership Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

This article picks up where we left off last year in the series on Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens. If you have not yet read the previous articles, let me encourage you to read at least the introductory article linked here, as it will set the foundation for this and all the other articles in the series.

As we continue examining the way the value chain analysis can be useful, we need to keep in mind that these activities do not operate in isolation or for their own purposes. The activities in one functional area impact other areas and must be coordinated to help the company achieve its overall strategic objectives.

For example, if a firm takes a differentiation strategy in which its products, services, brand and marketing messages are unique from its competitors, then every functional area must seek to add value to achieving that objective of uniqueness. A company like Apple spends significant money on R&D, quality components and exceptional advertising to set its products apart. Primary activities including inbound logistics (sourcing components), production (quality control processes), and sales and marketing (advertising) must all support this objective, as well as the support activities of procurement (spending the necessary money to ensure differentiation) and human resources management (hiring, training, evaluating and compensating the kind of employees who will maintain the standards of excellence needed).

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Marketing and Customer Service through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we began looking at Porter’s value chain as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we also sought to use the tool as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. In this third part of the series, we examine marketing and service, the final two primary activities in the value chain.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Marketing

Marketing Through a Traditional Lens

Marketing covers a broad spectrum of activities including branding, selecting a target market, product development, pricing, promotional strategy and distribution. A recognizable brand can add significant value to a firm. You can go almost anywhere in the world and people know the Coca Cola brand. According to statista.com, Apple’s brand was worth almost $235 billion in 2017. That number is not Apple’s market cap, it’s the value of their brand, an intangible asset. Ensuring the quality of the company’s products and services, creating effective advertising, and extending the geographic market are three ways to improve the value of a firm’s brand.  Read more

Operations and Outbound Logistics Through a Spiritual Lens

by Ross O’Brien

In Part 1 of this series, we began looking at Porter’s Value Chain Analysis as a useful tool for business people seeking to maximize the value they deliver to customers while also seeking to gain a competitive advantage as they execute their strategy. We looked at Inbound Logistics as one of the primary activities in the value chain.

Beyond the traditional use of the analysis, we also unpacked how the tool could be used as a way to help a follower of Jesus steward the resources of God’s company. After all, while our names might be on the legal documentation as “owners,” we realize that the business belongs to God and we are co-laborers with him in restoring creation throughout the marketplace.

In the second part of the series, we continue to examine the primary activities of the value chain, this time focusing on operations and outbound logistics.

 

800px-Porter_Value_Chain

Dinesh Pratap Singh’s visualization for Porter’s Value Chain: CC BY-SA 3.0 

Operations

Operations Through a Traditional Lens

In a manufacturing business, operations include the activities of making products, inventory management, work flow management, facilities, personnel and equipment management. In a software firm, operations involve developing software; in an accounting firm providing the accounting services for their clients, etc. In our little coffee shop example, the operations activities include making and selling coffee and associated products. Knowledge of the best processes and combinations of quality ingredients are vital. The right equipment and knowledge of how to use it is also essential.  Read more

Value Chain Analysis Through a Spiritual Lens: Introduction

by Ross O’Brien

In his 1985 book Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, Michael Porter introduced the value chain analysis. Many business people are familiar with Porter’s Five Forces Framework as well as his three generic strategies. The five forces address industry-level issues that to a large degree shape the potential for a return on investment in any given industry. The generic strategies help business leaders select the appropriate strategy for operating within a given industry and market. Both are helpful tools in the strategy toolbox.

Many are not as familiar with the value chain analysis. This tool looks closely at each of the activities involved in a business to examine how each activity can add value to the company as it seeks to execute its strategy. These activities are divided into primary activities and support activities.

Primary activities are those in which employees are “hands on” with the product at any stage in its development or involved with the customer at any stage in the customer’s interaction with the company.

Support activities are those necessary for the business to carry out the primary activities.

It is important to see both primary and secondary activities as a whole system as well as component parts. In doing so, you can understand how a competitive advantage is only possible when the various activities operate in harmony, not in isolation. Below is an image showing each of these activities.

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