How Can We Plan for Spiritual Impact?

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Dear BAM Mentor,

How and when do I go about my spiritual impact plan? Do I write this at the same time as my business plan? Any practical advice about writing an integrated plan?

~ Perplexed Planner

Dear Perplexed,

Talking about having a Spiritual Impact Plan (SIP) can be a controversial topic. One response that comes back loud and clear when discussing this is, “How can you plan for the work of the Holy Spirit?” There is some truth in this – how can we know what the spiritual outcomes are going to be? We certainly have more control over the inputs. Jesus himself, in Matthew 28:19, told us to do several specific ‘input activities’: go, make disciples, baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teach. Before doing any of these things we are surely expected to use our heads and think about how best to do them based on our own and the company’s  talents and abilities, our personal and corporate circumstances, the cultural situation we find ourselves in and the overall business goals the company has. Thinking about these things and writing them down is, in essence, a Spiritual Impact Plan. While it is the Holy Spirit that has control over the outcomes, we do get to work alongside and co-labour with the Lord. Therefore, this SIP should perhaps more accurately be SIDTOP – Spiritual Inputs with a Desire Towards Outputs Plan – just kidding! Seriously, planning is absolutely something you should be thinking about, including the spiritual dimension. Otherwise, why are we doing the BAM thing?

When should I write the Spiritual Impact Plan? I feel this needs to be done while you are writing your Business Plan. The idea of writing an integrated plan is interesting, but it also requires wisdom.  While it is usually okay to share your business plan with others, if it includes spiritual intentions, it could easily get you into trouble if inadvertently shared with the wrong people. Therefore, my advice is to make it an iterative exercise. Write the business plan first, then write the SIP. If the SIP reveals changes that are necessary in the business plan, then go back and change it. This cycle may be repeated as often as necessary.

Regarding how to write an SIP, there are many issues to be considered and are best sorted through by asking yourself good questions, for example, about what God is doing in that particular context, what you and the company should be doing and so on. The only detailed topic I want to comment on right now is the topic of employee relations. Since many BAM practitioners are foreigners in the local culture, we may be perceived to have unlimited resources. This will influence the way we are perceived. Once your employees know you are a Christian they may try and take advantage of your expected leniency in dealing with any misbehaviour or bad attitude. Think carefully about how you will deal with, for example, employee discipline.  These issues will arise and you need to have thought through what you response will be so that all your policies and values are line with your SIP.

~ Garry

More Responses on this topic:

From Robert Andrews

A business plan is intended to help you work through the key issues you will face in running your business and should include all of the factors that have critical importance. It should addresses the design of the product, distribution, manufacture, finance, marketing, purchasing, and capitalization. It should also address how all of these business functions fit in to the work God is doing.

The spiritual impact of the business is one of the key objectives for a BAM business and as such it ought to be integrated in planning right from the beginning. […Read more]

From Colleene Isaacs

I would be hesitant to create a separate plan that speaks to spiritual impact within my business, rather I would look at how every aspect of my business is structured and operated to provide the space for spiritual impact to occur. It’s my belief that corporate culture and how culture is articulated and modeled daily creates the opportunity for spiritual impact to occur within your organization. The Bible is clear in expressing that the world will know followers of Christ by our fruit – fruit is manifested through actions.

When you think of spiritual impact within your business you are really speaking to the culture of the environment and how culture is lived out daily between management, employees, customers and vendors. At the core of culture are the values which drive your organization. […Read more]

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