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.
However, for the purposes of our blog series this month, we will focus on each of the four major constituencies in the BAM movement – business, academia, church and mission – exploring why they are so important for a healthy, thriving BAM ecosystem.
We also want to encourage each constituency to more fruitfully partner with others as our movement grows. We hope to see business people and agencies partnering to launch business incubators; church and business working together to mobilise and train; business and academia collaborating on research in order to spot the patterns in our practice, and so on. The sky really is the limit when it comes to partnership!
The B in Business as Mission: Our Business Constituency
Excellence in Business: A Foundation of BAM
Good business practice is foundational to BAM. An excellent and successful BAM company rests on many of the same principles as any excellent and successful enterprise. I once heard a very wise and experienced BAM pioneer say, “We would not go to the top of a tall building with our prayer partner, pray and then jump off. That is because we understand and respect the laws of gravity. In the same way we need to understand and respect the laws of business if we are to jump into business as mission.”
As BAM practitioners we must execute well in business in order to build thriving companies, whilst examining each part of our business execution through a missional lens. That is why so many articles on The BAM Review blog are devoted to core business topics with a BAM application, for example:
- Business Planning
- Human Resources
- Financial Planning
- Building Company Culture
- Legal and Tax Issues
- Product Development
And indeed looking at every part of the value chain of a business through a spiritual lens.
An understanding of the discipline of business must be in our foundations.
Business People: At the Heart of the Movement
It almost goes without saying that the unique, God-ordained gifts and skills that business people carry are essential for a strong, healthy BAM movement. In the language of Peter Shaukat, we need “Actualizers”, the men and women who are going to start and run businesses. Without these people BAM cannot happen.
We need entrepreneurs who will act on their ideas, take the risk and start new BAM companies. Then for every business starter, we need a host of business builders to ensure the sustainability of the enterprise. We need company officers and managers who will lead others with integrity and skill. We need those with a wide range of business professional skills, from accountants to sales people, product designers to human resource managers. We also need those with the technical skills central to each business, the bakers in a bakery, consultants in a consultancy, engineers in a construction business, etc.
This will require we continue to inspire, mobilise and equip the relatively untapped resource of business men and women in the church – for global mission in near and far places. It is vital then that the current generation of BAM practitioners are able to pass on their stories and lessons to the next generation. (And by next generation, I don’t mean by age, but rather experience. We also need all ages and stages of business life, from interns fresh from their studies to experienced retirees).
However, around these current and future practitioners we also need a wealth of further business resources and support. Strong BAM companies require good governance and mentorship, so we need experienced advisory board members and coaches. They require injections of financial capital, so we need investors. They require that people be matched with opportunities, so we need recruiters. And so on.
In short, the BAM movement contains a vast array of various kinds of business know-how and experience, within and around each company. If we are going to see the movement continue its trajectory of growth, the business constituency at its heart will need to continue to grow.
Unpacking the Four Constituencies
Business is at our core as a movement, which is why we wanted to address it in this first post of the series. However, for the remainder of this month we will focus on each of the other, perhaps more neglected, constituencies within the BAM community: Academia, Church and Agencies.
The BAM Global Congress in April next year will also reflect these four constituencies, including in the program:
- 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.
We invite you to join us at the BAM Global Congress, the ‘one stop shop’ for the global business as mission movement. The Congress will be held from 29th April to 3rd May 2020 in Jomtien, Thailand and is open to everyone interested. This event 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.
 Peter Shaukat in Appendix D: Transformational SME – Business Incubation Process and Lessons Learned, p44 of the BAM Incubation Issue Report.
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of BAM Global and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.
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