3 Key Questions: How We Define and Evaluate Kingdom Impact

By Will Thomas

Co-Founder & Managing Director, Ambassadors Impact Network

Ambassadors Impact Network (AIN) is an angel investment network based in Dallas, Texas, connecting Christian accredited investors with gospel-advancing entrepreneurs. Since inception in 2018, our members have deployed over USD $20 million across more than 50 companies and funds. In addition to targeting competitive financial returns, we are equally committed to seeking intentional and measurable spiritual impact.

One of the most common inquiries we receive from prospective members and applicant entrepreneurs relates to how we define, evaluate, and measure these kingdom returns. At the heart of our approach is a recognition that entrepreneurs come from diverse spiritual backgrounds, each with unique giftings, passions, and contexts. Therefore, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to gospel advancement. Instead, we encourage entrepreneurs to articulate how they intend to make Jesus known through three key aspects of their businesses: codified values, business activities, and products and/or services. Below are the questions we ask in our application and some background on each.

1. Incorporating biblical truth into company values

Does your company include biblical principles in the corporate documents (such as mission statement, manuals, etc.)?

Context and examples: Scripture tells us repeatedly of the immense power of words. “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook” (Proverbs 18:4). Indeed, it is through speech that our God brings things into existence. Similarly, we believe that the values of a company, when explicitly stated, play an enormous role in shaping organizational culture, guiding decision-making, and providing a stable foundation for God-glorifying growth. In our diligence process, we ask applicants to share about their corporate values, their alignment with biblical principles, and the extent to which these are formally codified in corporate documents, such as in mission statements, operating manuals, external communications, employee policies, etc. Read more

An Abundance of Counselors: Practical Steps to Set Up an Advisory Board

This December marks 8 years of regularly posting content on The BAM Review Blog. This month we are sharing some past posts on practical BAM topics that you might have missed.

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing that having an Advisory Board is good idea for a BAM company. How is an advisory board different from other kinds of boards and how should I go about setting one up?

~ Needing Advice

Dear Needing Advice,

The question arises as to the purpose and practicality of an Advisory Board for a small business or a startup. I have had advisory boards for several of the businesses I’ve launched and served on advisory boards for others. Needless to say, I am a big fan.

King Solomon put it like this:

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”  Proverbs 11:14

“…for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”  Proverbs 24:6

The basic premise of an Advisory Board is that, rather than try to figure out everything on your own, you can enlist the wisdom, perspective and experience of others to help you “wage your war.” In addition to advice there is also a healthy element of accountability – something many entrepreneurs don’t want, but something all of them need. Read more

How Can We Measure an Organisation’s Kingdom Impact?

by James Waters

Five years ago, I quit my job to explore whether it was possible to measure the Kingdom of God coming through businesses and non-profits all over the world. My background was researching and helping the largest secular development organisations understand if they were being effective. I had seen how measuring complex aspects of human social and economic well-being, and organisations’ processes could move from seemingly impossible, to practical and standardised. And yet the concept of measuring ‘spiritual impact’ remained elusive.

Five years later, after hundreds of conversations, dozens of metrics reviewed, multiple assessment tools developed and organisations analysed, I am convinced it is not only possible, but critical. 

Several years ago, BAM Global identified three Big Hair Audience Goals (BHAGs) for the BAM movement at large. In order to know if we are making progress according to the first BHAG: ‘Solve global issues with innovative BAM solutions’ — we need to know if BAM organisations within the movement are having an impact! The recent State of the BAM Movement Report we published in partnership with BAM Global indicated that indeed, many companies are tackling social and spiritual issues, but we want to have evidence of that impact.

Likewise, we want to be good stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us. In my opinion, that looks like knowing the impact of our organisations or investments, so that we can a) help address the needs of those we are serving or working alongside more accurately, b) improve the processes of our organisations so we are more effective, and c) celebrate what God is doing with all our stakeholders.

But how can this be done? How can a Kingdom business leader move from anecdote about their spiritual and social impact, to actual evidence? And how can we become leaders who truly understand our Kingdom impact?[1]

The ‘How’ of Kingdom Impact Measurement

There are many ways to measure Kingdom Impact, but there are three key principles that I have learned from approaching this challenge to date:  Read more

Measuring the Impact and Performance of BAM: Intro to Metrics

Business as mission is hard. Very hard! Missionaries with little business experience but plenty of vision start businesses and struggle. Experienced business people start businesses in new countries or cultures and struggle. Too many business as mission (BAM) companies wander in the desert aimlessly. They need a compass to guide them—something to remind them of their direction and tell them if they are on track. Well designed and implemented metrics can help.

Metrics are measures. They are like the control panel on a car—the gauges, lights and dials that tell you how fast you’re going, how much fuel is left and whether you’re headed for trouble. You can drive a car without a fuel gauge or a speedometer, but you will likely run into serious trouble before too much time has passed.

Measures can be numbers, stories, graphs, or generalized reports. These metrics provide an insight into what’s really going on inside the operation. That matters to all who are working hard to see the business achieve its purpose—to glorify God.

Serious Questions

Do we know if business as mission is making a difference?

Can we tell if a business as mission company is doing well or poorly?

Do you know if your company is doing what it set out to do?

Do you know if you or your employees are doing their jobs and making a difference?

These are not simple questions and they deserve serious answers. Evaluating ministry is a challenge that makes many people uncomfortable. This discomfort is reasonable to some extent, as the focus of our ministry is service to God and we know that only God can judge his servants. At the same time we recognize that measurement is a tool for direction, like a compass, and applies to ministry as well as to other areas of life. Without knowing where we are or where we have been, it is impossible to chart a course for where we should go. This is especially true when the ministry is a business. We owe it to the many people who have made investments of time, money and prayer to do a fair and honest assessment of the work—both the effort and the results. That is part of the discipline of business.  Read more

Three Things the State of the BAM Movement Report Tells Us About BAM

by James Waters & Jo Plummer

As part of the lead-in to the BAM Global Congress last year, BAM Global, in partnership with Eido Research, conducted the State of the BAM Movement Survey to get a snapshot of the global business as mission movement. Watch James’ Video Introduction here.

In response to the Survey, Eido Research have produced a State of the BAM Movement Report. Here are three things it tells us:

1. The BAM Movement is Still Young, but Truly Global

Enough people responded to make a representative sample of our global list, and it revealed that it is still quite a young movement. The majority of companies are less than ten years old, and a good additional number (12% of surveyed) looking to start a business soon. However, the BAM Movement is truly global! Although there are a handful of countries where there is a concentration of BAM businesses, there is a diverse global spread.

 

The global map above shows the distribution of active BAM businesses,
according to their turnover. Each dot represents a country, the size of the
dot represents the number of businesses in that country, and the colour represents the average turnover.

 

As João Mordomo writes for the Foreword for Neal Johnson’s new book on BAM, “Business as mission is not a new concept. It has, however, taken on new meaning for the church and her mission in the 21st Century. The modern BAM Movement started about 25 years ago and, like other great movements of God — being God-ordained, God-ignited, God-led, and God-blessed — it began to take shape simultaneously in different places around the global by way of different and diverse groups of people.”

Read more

The State of the BAM Movement Report Overview [Video]

Video Presentation by James Waters

 

 James Waters of Eido Research shares some preliminary findings from the results of the State of the BAM Movement Survey – recorded at the BAM Global Congress in April 2021.

>>Download State of the Movement Report Here

Read more

An Abundance of Counselors: Practical Steps to Set Up an Advisory Board

We are revisiting some of the classic material from The BAM Review blog on governance, accountability and the support that a BAM practitioner needs around them to thrive.

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

I keep hearing that having an Advisory Board is good idea for a BAM company. How is an advisory board different from other kinds of boards and how should I go about setting one up?

~ Needing Advice

Dear Needing Advice,

The question arises as to the purpose and practicality of an Advisory Board for a small business or a startup. I have had advisory boards for several of the businesses I’ve launched and served on advisory boards for others. Needless to say, I am a big fan.

King Solomon put it like this:

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”  Proverbs 11:14

“…for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”  Proverbs 24:6

The basic premise of an Advisory Board is that, rather than try to figure out everything on your own, you can enlist the wisdom, perspective and experience of others to help you “wage your war.” In addition to advice there is also a healthy element of accountability – something many entrepreneurs don’t want, but something all of them need. Read more

Seven Reasons Why Everyone Needs a Coach

by Larry Sharp

When I was a collegiate hockey player, it never dawned on me that I might not need a coach. Not only did the coaches help me with personal skill development like skating, passing, shooting, and checking, but also how to develop my team play so together we could be successful.  Although I had good coaches and poor coaches, I always knew that I needed a coach.

Why then did it not dawn on me that I needed a coach when I was supervising 120 employees just months after graduating from university?  It was not like I had a super-mentoring boss because I did not, and I don’t think I was arrogant and thought that I knew it all.  Why did I not think I needed a mentor?

While it is true that my management career began long before Bill Gates affirmed that “everyone needs a coach”, I have often reflected on why it is that people still today think they don’t need a mentor, or a coach or consulting help?  These few thoughts are intended to help encourage business owners and managers to seek a coach, mentor or consultant.  Read more

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.

Read more

Thriving vs Surviving: Building Skills and Support for BAMers

by Robert Andrews

Editors Note: When we asked veteran BAM leaders to identify some of the pressing issues that are facing the business as mission movement in the next decade, among the issues they identified were several areas that could broadly be categorized as ‘resource gaps for BAM companies’, including:

1. Adequate financial capital flow.

2. Adequate human capital flow – both in terms of a) recruiting the right kind of people to begin and sustain a BAM company, and b) succession planning and the successful transition of a BAM company from one generation of owners to another.

3. Adequate support for BAM practitioners, especially mentoring, accountability and care.

We have been posting articles covering each of these issues during the month of June, this week concluding with providing adequate support for BAMers.

Building Adequate Skills and Support for BAM Practitioners

There are many challenges facing the BAM community and it’s encouraging to see so much effort going to understanding and addressing these. One of the thornier issues is how best to support BAM practitioners in their work. These can be nationals trying to build the Kingdom in their home countries or foreigners who have committed to business in a cross-cultural setting. Both need support, but what support to give and how to give it is a current and urgent discussion.

Leading a BAM business requires a large set of skills, some of which one hopes the BAM practitioner has at the outset, but many of which will have to be learned, hired, purchased, or borrowed from others. A beginning list of these skills could fall under the following headings:

  • General business:  finance, marketing, sales, HR, strategy, operations, business law; the stuff of an MBA
  • Industry specific:  how to make the product or deliver the service, the industry sales and pricing dynamics, and familiarity with the global market leaders
  • BAM general:  the theology of BAM and an understanding of how to make a spiritual impact while operating a business, plus access to a BAM network
  • Country/Region specific:  language, culture, worldview, local religion, local political, social or environmental issues, local business practices and law; plus the local spiritual dynamics, the status abd challenges of the local church, and an awareness of what God is doing in the region
  • Personal/Family: emotional intelligence, strong personal spiritual life, character, care for family members, marital strength, physical health and habits

Read more