Compelling Reasons for Business as Mission That are Still Relevant Today

This month we are exploring different motives a missional entrepreneur may have for pursuing business as mission as their strategy of choice. To set the scene, here is a classic introduction to BAM as a strategy from the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. Published nearly 20 years ago, these arguments are as compelling and relevant today as we still seek ‘God’s Kingdom come’ — through business. 


A World in Need

The world holds fresh opportunities and challenges for the global Church.  In regions where Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are dominant and where 90% of the world’s unreached peoples live, you also find 80% of the world’s poorest populations. Unemployment in these countries ranges from 30% to 80% and it is even higher among Christian minorities. Furthermore many Christians and others in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin American are living in poverty because of lack of jobs and unjust economic systems.

Over the next 20 years, more than 2 billion people will enter societies where there are few churches and very few jobs.

What should be the response of the Church and particularly Christian business people to such challenges?

What the poor want is not aid, but jobs – real jobs, not subsidised ones. This is the dignity and self-reliance they deserve.


Business as Mission – a Renewed Call

There is a wave of thousands of Christian business people from all continents who are experiencing a dynamic move of God as part of a renewed call to His kingdom work. God is on the move in Latin America, Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and the Pacific regions, calling His global church to rediscover His heart and intention for business.

God established the institution and practice of business as a means of fulfilling His creation mandate to steward and care for all of creation. He is releasing the power of business to aid in the task of fulfilling the great commission making disciples of all nations. God longs to be glorified through our business activities.

Business people are being challenged to look anew at their business activities as an expression of their calling and service to God. They are being affirmed in their vocation as business people and used as instruments for extending God’s kingdom. God has led a growing number of business people to think strategically about how they can integrate their skills and experience in business with the task of world mission. God is calling many more business people, from all nations to go to all nations, in this new paradigm of mission.

“God has gifted some with the resources of mind and spirit to be businessmen and women. Business as mission seeks to support and encourage those who are gifted by God in this way. It aims to stimulate interest in, and commitment to, doing business as unto the Lord. Its desire is to assist business people to see the opportunities that exist, to use their skills and talents to bless those in the poorest and most needy parts of the world, and to provide in those contexts credible opportunities to demonstrate and proclaim Christ.”   — Harry Goodhew, Retired Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Australia

One term being used for this mission movement is ‘business as mission’. Business in and of itself is the ministry and instrument of mission. It is about releasing the entrepreneurs and business professionals within the church in order to transform the world through their business activities.

The implication of ‘the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world’ includes affirming and mobilising the business people in the body of Christ. It means releasing them to use their gifting in business to lift the oppression of the poor through business, to transform their own communities and nations through business, and to carry the good news to the ‘ends of the earth’ through business.


Breaking New Ground

Kingdom focused business has been called a strategy of choice for the 21st century mission. In many countries where the name of Christ is least often heard or understood, Christians are better welcomed as business people, not “missionaries”. Business is about relationships in the context of everyday life and provides numerous ways to bless individuals, communities and nations.

Our desire is to acknowledge the ways that business can and does glorify God.  Business can be used for good and to help grow His kingdom. There are unique and wonderful opportunities that God is calling us to through business, businesses that help restore human dignity and hope as well as provide a context for sharing the gospel of the kingdom.  We dream of seeing the Church, as the whole Body of Christ, taking the whole Gospel to the whole world. Our prayer is that God’s kingdom would come in all spheres of society within every nation. Our goal is to see people and communities transformed by the power of the gospel. Business as mission is about affirming, mobilising, equipping and deploying business people to this end.

The business of ‘business as mission’ is to reveal Christ through business.  When this is done effectively, the outcome is transformational.

To the greater Glory of God!

This is an excerpt from the Introduction of the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission.

The Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission is a 82 page paper giving an overview of the topic of business as mission. It was written as a result of a unique collaborative effort, a year-long consultation between more than 70 Christian leaders and business as mission pioneers and concluding with a meeting together at the Lausanne Forum 2004. It was the first attempt to bring a broad international and multi-disciplined perspective to business as mission and to take the pulse of an emerging movement.