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The Coronavirus Pandemic and BAM: Seven Things We Can Do

by Mats Tunehag

The effects of the coronavirus are disruptive beyond comprehension. The situation is changing by the hour. The consequences vary from difficult to dire for billions of people, and nobody knows what the timeline is for this crisis.

Media across the world updates us constantly on the negative effects on businesses and on people’s lives, so this short article will have a different focus: what can we do?

But first let’s note that throughout history the Church has a track record of serving others in the midst of major plagues and catastrophes.

The sociologist Rodney Stark has written (in The Rise of Christianity) that one reason the church overcame hostility and grew so rapidly within the Roman empire traces back to how Christians responded to pandemics of the day, which probably included bubonic plague and smallpox.  When infection spread, Romans fled their cities and towns; Christians stayed behind to nurse and feed not only their relatives but their pagan neighbors.” (Living in Plague Times – Phillip Yancy)

Why has the Church done this for centuries and why should we do it now? One fundamental reason is that we are to love God and our neighbors, and the two are connected. As Bishop Barron says: “Why are the two commandments so tightly linked? Because of who Jesus is. Christ is not simply a human being, and he is not simply God; rather, he is the God-man, the one in whose person divinity and humanity meet. Therefore, it is impossible to love him as God without loving the humanity that he has embraced. The greatest commandment is, therefore, an indirect Christology.” [1]

Many businesses are facing challenges with cashflow, lockdown, sales, having to let staff go, supply chain disruptions, bankruptcies, et cetera. So, what can we do now?

Let me suggest seven areas for action as it relates to BAM businesses and the global BAM community. We also invite you to add your suggestions.

Please do share your thoughts and suggestions by responding to our Reader Survey

1. Pray

Seek God, listen to Him.

  • Pray for BAMers and BAM businesses.
  • Pray for divine wisdom and intervention.
  • Pray for creative thinking and innovative solutions.
  • Use St. Patrick’s BAM prayer, available in five languages.
  • Ask friends in business how you can pray for them!
  • Start or join online prayer groups for BAMers and businesses

Please check Larry Sharp’s helpful blog for some ideas on BAM-related prayer points.

How else can we pray for BAMers and BAM business?

2. Buy

We can help BAM businesses by engaging their services and buying their products:

  • Support local businesses by buying their products and services when possible.
  • Shop online.
  • Do your Christmas shopping now!
  • Buy gifts and give to neighbors, family and people in need.

How else can we help businesses, both local and far away?

3. Give

There is a need for financial, intellectual and social capital.

Loans:

Many businesses face issues with sales, revenue and cashflow, and could benefit from donations and loans. We need contingency funds.

Advice:

Can you help a business with advice, can you be a coach and mentor? You may be an experienced business person who has gone through tough times and learned important lessons.

Connections:

Can you help connect BAM business with people who can help? With sales? Marketing? Access to loans? To support peer groups?

Do you know of contingency funds? Mentors that are willing, qualified and available? Practical suggestions regarding helpful connections?

4. Remember the poor

The coronavirus crisis affects the poor more than most others. Millions of self-employed have lost their jobs and thus income. There are even more people who are day laborers who work in the informal economy, have no safety nets, and in a lockdown situation they may lose income day 1, and may be out of food soon after. And they have limited access to healthcare. [2]

The mantra many of us hear – “work from home, wash your hands frequently, and keep physical distance” – is not possible for millions of people.

Some headlines from India, Africa and Nepal:

India’s poorest ‘fear hunger may kill us before coronavirus’ 

In Africa, social distancing is a privilege few can afford

Daily wage workers are more worried about starving to death than Covid-19

One group in Thailand provides care packages of food to vulnerable women in the sex industry, who lost their daily earnings because of lockdown.

Another example is an African American woman in North Carolina, USA, who “feeds more than 100 families every day during the COVID-19 pandemic”, see report and video.

What other encouraging initiatives do you know of?

5. Learn

Many of us have to stay home, and this may open up opportunities to study. Being mindful that our present crisis is unique,  albeit not the first one, we should also study lessons learnt from previous significant world changing events. We should also – even now – try to draw lessons in and from the present crisis.

Let me give a few concrete suggestions:

  • In a time of “corona imposed monasticism”: let the Word of God come alive, learn from those who have gone before us, and enjoy God’s creation. See Bishop Barron’s reflections of these three things in this video.
  • Check the BAM Global Reports and study two foundational documents for the BAM Movement: The BAM Manifesto and the Wealth Creation Manifesto.
  • In a time with major dramatic changes we should remind ourselves about countries which have been transformed in our lifetime. It will give hope and inspiration during these stressful times. Learn from Israel, Singapore and Rwanda, which have succeeded against many odds. See four recommended books in footnote.[3]

I am just now reading a book which describes, analyses and compares 12 Church encyclicals from 1891 to 2009.[4] They deal with topics like business, wealth creation, profit, workers rights, private property, democracy, socialism, theology of work, human dignity, human rights, free markets, democratic capitalism – all from a Bible based perspective mindful of both historical roots and contexts.[5] One of the best is the John Paul II encyclical from 1991: Centesimus Annus.[6] I also warmly recommend the book!

What books, articles, videos, and podcasts do you recommend? What are you learning?

6. Regroup

This global crisis is bigger and more complex than we have ever experienced before in our generation. We are not just going through it and coming back to normal. Things are and will be changing. Thus, we need to review our business presuppositions, and possibly regroup even now. There are of course also new business opportunities during and after the crisis.

Praxis is “a creative engine for redemptive entrepreneurship, supporting founders, funders, and innovators motivated by their faith to renew culture and love their neighbors”. Three of Praxis’ leaders have written a thought-provoking essay dealing with these issues: “In this essay we will explain why we think that for most organizations — businesses, nonprofits, and even churches — this is a time to urgently redesign our work.” This is highly recommended reading!

What are you and your business and/or organization doing to regroup?

7. Don’t give up!

Why pursue BAM? God wants it, the world needs it and we are called to it! It is part of a greater godly plan which the Jews call tikkun olam: repairing the world.[7] We are living in the tension of the world that is and the world as it ought to be. Thus, we pray “may your Kingdom come, and may your will be done on earth as in heaven”.

Tikkun olam means co-creating with God, bridging the gap of the world which is to a world as it ought to be. During and after the corona crisis we are to repair and heal people’s lives and improve the world, bringing hope and healing to the world, also through business.

As the markets plunge due to the corona crisis, let us learn from Jeremiah: “The prospects were not good. Actually really bad, even disastrous. The city was under siege, and everything pointed towards a defeat. People would be assaulted, hurt and killed; houses burnt down and the remaining citizens of Jerusalem would be deported to a foreign land. In this doomsday context the prophet Jeremiah was told by God to make an investment – in the doomed city!

Sounds like bad advice, maybe like investing during the corona crisis. But God showed that the marketplace will be restored again one day, and God was engaged to that end, and He still is. See my earlier blog God Restores the Market Place.

As we pursue BAM and tikkun olam, we mustn’t lose hope or give up as we are facing tough times. Emmanuel – God is with us.

Mats Tunehag

PS. Please share your thoughts and suggestions here:

 

Now also available in Russian: Пандемия коронавируса и «Бизнес как Миссия»: семь вещей, которые мы можем делать

DutchDe Corona Pandemie & BAM; 7 dingen die we kunnen doen

SpanishLA PANDEMIA DE CORONAVIRUS Y BAM: 7 COSAS QUE PODEMOS HACER

And PortugueseA PANDEMIA DO CORONAVIRUS E O BAM: 7 COISAS QUE PODEMOS FAZER

Mats Tunehag is a senior global ambassador for BAM and has worked in over half the countries of the world. He is the chairman of BAM Global and contributes to TransformationalSME.org. Visit MatsTunehag.com for BAM resources in 19 languages.

 

 

 

 

Footnotes

1. Bishop Barron’s reflection on today’s gospel reading from Mark 12:28 – 34, on March 20, 2020. 

2. These are very vulnerable people who in some cases also are badly treated when they are just trying to survive these dire circumstances, see for example this report.

3. Israel is an example of a small nation with limited natural resources and with hostile neighbors, which has been transformed to a prosperous world-leading innovator. Singapore was poor and became independent in 1965. It looked at Israel as a model. Today it is another world-leading country; amazingly well functioning, green, safe, clean, and prosperous. Rwanda went from a genocide and devastated country in 1994, to become a beacon in many ways in sub-Saharan Africa. It gleaned on Israel and Singapore.

* Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, by Dan Senor &Saul Singer

* From Third World to First: The Singapore Story – 1965-2000, by Lee Kuan Yew

* Rwanda, Inc.: How a Devastated Nation Became an Economic Model for the Developing World, by Patricia Crisafulli and Andrea Redmond

* Beating the Odds Together: 50 Years of Singapore-Israel Ties, by Mattia Tomba. 2019

4. Papal Economics: The Catholic Church on democratic Capitalism, by Maciej Zieba. 2013

5. The world has gone through major changes in the last 150 years, sometimes through major wars and political upheavals. The industrialization, unbridled capitalism, the growth of dictatorial communism, the end of the cold war, and the greatest lift out of poverty in the history of mankind – which has happened through business. Significant Christian thinking has gone into analyzing these developments from Biblical and church related perspectives.

6. The context is the upheaval of the cold war, the collapse of communism, and a cataclysmic change for hundreds of millions of people. Read Encyclical here.

7. Learn more about the concept, and how Israel applies it. I also strongly recommend a lecture by Rabbi Sacks: To heal a fractured world.

 

 

 

10 Things That Will Help or Hinder BAM Multiplication

As we count down to the BAM Global Congress in April 2020, we revisit some of the key issues that we want to address when we gather together. These 10 topics are all on the agenda for the Congress 2020 and we invite you to join us!

How do we multiply and scale the number of fruitful BAM companies around the world? One of our key tasks must be to envision and mobilise a new wave of would-be business as mission practitioners from every country on the planet. Some of those will come from a corporate or small business background, envisioned with a broader perspective on their skills, experiences or companies. Others will come from a non-profit or mission agency context after seeing the need for business as mission firsthand. Still others will be the next generation coming through schools and colleges, growing up with an integrated passion for business and God’s work in the nations.

There are many strategies and models for mobilising and equipping future BAMers. Whatever your strategy, here are 10 things that will help or hinder BAM multiplication:

1. God is at work

Perhaps our most important opportunity is that God is on the move in the global marketplace. God is at work among business people and business people are hungry for this message. Christ-followers in the marketplace around the globe are sensing God’s call to impact the world in and through their vocation. Our message must affirm business professionals and exhort them to use their vocational experience and expertise for God’s Kingdom work. Since we are co-workers with the Holy Spirit in the work of mobilisation, prayer must be considered vital work in the BAM community. We cannot have fruitful advocacy and mobilisation without this partnership between our efforts and God’s work in people’s lives. This is not another program for us to deliver, but a movement of God. Read more

Turn Off the Lights to Share the Light: Why Good Environmental Practice is Great Business Practice

by Mark Polet

There is a misconception that good environmental management always costs money. Well, sometimes it does seem to cost when externalities are not costed fully (waste management, air and water pollution control) or when the company is not managed properly (contamination). 

Turn Off the Lights so You can Share the Light

However, there is another area of sound business management where good environmental management saves money. It’s called efficiency.

In short, turn off the lights.

It is easy for all of us to fall into complacency or just get too busy to really manage our costs, especially in the challenging places where you work. That is why we are looking for quick wins. The first quick win my colleagues and I have noted in working for Kingdom Companies is energy efficiency.

Turn off the lights when you leave! I find it remarkable how many times energy is wasted in companies, even where energy availability is inconsistent. We have seen whole factories lit up with not a soul in them.

Manage your air conditioning.  25°C (77°F) is often recommended, no cooler. If  you have your suit jacket on while you work at your desk, something may be wrong.

BAM is in the relationship business, and enrolling staff in Creation Care is one more step in discipleship.

Watch for phantom power costs. Turn off appliances when not in use. 

Many electronic appliances (i.e. monitor screens) are still drawing power even when ‘off’. If at all possible, shut off at the main plug.

Read more

Messy Site, Messy Company: Aiming for Environmental Excellence

by Mark Polet

When it comes to running a good business, cleanliness really is next to godliness.

I want to explore with you why you who are pursuing excellence in business need to weave good environmental practice into your operations.

Messy Site, Messy Company

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company. Because poor environmental practice is often quite visible in a disorderly site and disorganized operations, it is often the most evident warning bell to any investor or customer that something is wrong with this firm.

Why do I stay that? After over forty years of assessing companies for environmental excellence, including Kingdom-Oriented firms, there is one correlation in my experience that always holds.

If the site is a mess, the accounting is a mess.

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company.

A messy site means messed up books. I have reviewed firms across a score of industry groups. At times I will come across a  company that has an unkempt site. Sometimes it is debris lying around; other times it is  far worse, with spills contaminating the soil. In all cases, I find as I continue my audit that their financial records are equally messy, and their regulatory compliance is spotty at best. The management of their supply chain was poor. The amount of waste they generate, both in lost productivity and actual, physical waste, is evident.  Read more

Should Environmental Concerns Be a Priority for a Christian Business Owner?

In June this year, the Lausanne Movement gathered more than 700 Christian leaders from 109 nations in Manila for its Global Workplace Forum. Among the many topics discussed was where creation care should rank among other Christian concerns like evangelism and discipleship.

Should environmental concerns be a major priority for a Christian business owner? Here are the answers of Lausanne leaders:

 

Ed Brown, executive director of Care of Creation and Lausanne Catalyst for Creation Care (United States):

Yes! Without question, for two reasons. The first is uniquely Christian: obedience. Taking care of God’s world by responsibly caring for God’s creatures (Genesis 1) and by “tending the garden” (Genesis 2) was our first assignment from God. Lausanne’s Cape Town Commitment appropriately calls caring for God’s world “a gospel issue under the lordship of Christ.” This first task has never been taken away from us. Christian business owners are to be more than sound financial stewards and Christlike shepherds of our workforce; we’re called to be keepers of God’s garden.

The second is not uniquely Christian, but important nonetheless: survival. Business owners need to be concerned for the survival of the business, but also for the survival of the human race, including their community, customer base, and their own children and grandchildren. Yes, profit is needed for economic survival, but profit can’t be made in a collapsing world. Economic activity is a root cause of the environmental crisis, and wise businesspeople recognize that environmental collapse threatens their own business’ future, as well as the lives of their own grandchildren. Those who can run their businesses in ways that do not damage God’s creation will both survive and prosper.

 

Las Newman, Lausanne’s Global Associate Director for Regions (Jamaica):

Yes. Good business makes good sense. How can a Christian business operator witness for Christ and at the same time abuse his workers, short-change his customers, ignore environmental standards, contribute to environmental pollution, and affect the ecological balance of nature? Good business depends on three things: profitability that ensures return on investment for growth and development; care for the welfare of the people who help to produce such return on investment (i.e., workers and customers); and good environment for business that enhances the quality of human life and honors the Lord. Business operators in the aviation, food handling, transportation, tourism, earth extractive, manufacturing, and retail industries, among others, now recognize the importance of corporate social responsibility and include a green policy agenda to their business, including support of the arts.  Read more

Business as Mission and the Global Workplace: Part 2

by Jo Plummer

First published as an Advance Paper for the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum.

Bottom-line thinking

It is becoming more common for companies to plan for positive impact on ‘multiple bottom lines’. Rather than only measuring success as a positive number on the profit and loss statement—ie, the ‘financial bottom line’—businesses around the world are beginning to look for positive impact on social, environmental, and financial bottom lines. Social enterprises now aim to have a positive impact on multiple stakeholders—their employees, suppliers, the community, their customers, etc.—rather than focusing solely on returning financial rewards to shareholders. This ‘cutting-edge thinking’ is rediscovering God’s original design for business.

A business as mission (BAM) company is simply one that embraces all of this thinking about multiple bottom lines and multiple stakeholders. Crucially, it holds that God is the most important Stakeholder in the business, and that the purposes of the company should align with his purposes. Thus, a BAM company is one that thinks about how the whole strategy for the business—and the business model itself—can intentionally integrate mission.

BAM company owners start their businesses for a wide variety of reasons, including: to fight the evils of human trafficking, accelerate the task of reaching the remaining unreached peoples with the gospel, and tackle the problems of social injustice, environmental degradation, and dire poverty, to name a few. Annie started her business in Asia to provide alternative employment for exploited women, Anne started hers in Northern Europe to create jobs and connect with disaffected youth, and Mary started hers in the Middle East to more effectively share the gospel in one of the least-reached nations on earth.

The world is open for business

God has mandated humankind to be good stewards of Creation, to create resources for the good of society, to love God first and then love our neighbor, and to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Thus, a business as mission company includes spiritual transformation as a measure of business success, alongside social, environmental, and economic concerns—and has a special concern for the poor, marginalized, and unreached peoples. Business as Mission is:

  • Profitable and sustainable businesses;
  • Intentional about kingdom of God purpose and impact on people and nations;
  • Focused on holistic transformation and the multiple bottom lines of economic, social, environmental, and spiritual outcomes;
  • Concerned about the world’s poorest and least-evangelized peoples. 

Read more

Business as Mission and the Global Workplace: Part 1

by Jo Plummer

First published as an Advance Paper for the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum.

Introduction

Dallas Willard once said that, ‘Business is a primary moving force of the love of God in human history.’[1] Business, done well, is glorifying to God and has enormous potential to do good. Business has an innate God-given power to create dignified jobs, to multiply resources, to provide for families and communities and to push forward innovation and development in human society.

In the global marketplace today, we have an enormous opportunity to leverage this God-given potential of business to address some of the world’s most pressing spiritual, social, environmental, and economic issues. This is ‘business as mission’—a movement of business professionals using the gifts of entrepreneurship and good management to bring creative and long-term, sustainable solutions to global challenges. This movement of business people is growing worldwide; they are serving God in the marketplace and intentionally shaping their businesses for God’s glory, the gospel, and the common good. Business professionals are using their skills to serve people, make a profit, be good stewards of the planet, and align with God’s purposes; they are taking the whole gospel to the ends of the earth.

This paper aims to encourage businesswomen and men—whether entrepreneurs, managers, business professionals, or technical experts—that their gifts, experience, and capacity is a much-needed resource in global mission. In addition, it will exhort church and mission leaders to affirm and equip the business people in their networks and congregations so that they can effectively respond to the challenges in the global workplace today.

God gives us the ability to produce wealth

In Deuteronomy 8 we read that it is God who gives us the ability to produce wealth. He provides abundant natural resources so that we can use our creativity, talents, and hard work to provide for ourselves and innovate for society. Business processes naturally generate wealth and resources; companies are able to create good products and services for the benefit of communities. Business pushes forward innovation, helping societies develop; enterprises bring in new technologies, skills, and training to communities. Business, done well—not forgetting the Lord our God (Deut 8:11)—is glorifying to him.  Read more

10 Pressing Issues to Address in BAM in the Next 20 Years: Best of BAM Blog

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. Each year we do a summer roundup of articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is the “Most Popular Post” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Jo Plummer

This year marks around 20 years since the term ‘Business as Mission’ was first used and discussed amongst a growing group of like-minded people around the world. Of course, there were pioneer BAM models before that time, not to mention the fact that business and mission have been integrated in many different ways since Paul the Apostle made tents! However, for this modern iteration, the cohesion and an international conversation around this concept really started around 20 years ago.

I like to think of this pioneer generation and what has followed as ‘BAM 1.0’. It is amazing to reflect on all God has done in our global community in the past couple of decades! Now, as we look forward to the future, we want to explore the theme of ‘BAM 2.0’ for a new series of posts on The BAM Review blog. In the coming months, we’ll discover where we’ve got to and the issues we still face for the future.

To prepare for this series, we asked 20 leaders who have been engaged in business as mission for between 10 and 35 years to tell us what they believe are the most pressing issues we must address if the BAM movement is to be even more fruitful for the next 20 years… and beyond! While this isn’t a scientific survey across the entire BAM community, it does represent wisdom from a collection of leaders who have served long in our movement.

Here are the 10 overarching issues that were identified by these leaders, in no particular order:  Read more

Reasons to Celebrate! Growth of BAM Over the Last 20 Years

by Jo Plummer

This year marks around 20 years since the term ‘Business as Mission’ was first used and discussed amongst a growing group of like-minded people around the world. At the very end of the 1990s and the early 2000s, there was a burst of activity around BAM: Consultations, Conferences, Books, Articles, the first Websites etc. – and this kick-started greater momentum in the BAM movement, which has been growing to this day.

We are exploring the theme ‘where we’ve got to and where we still need to go’ on The BAM Review blog in the coming months. You can read the introduction post ‘10 Pressing Issues to Address in BAM in the Next 20 Years’ for more about the topics we’ll be covering during this series.

Before we dive into the challenges ahead, we asked some of the same BAM Leaders to share their view on what progress we can celebrate in the BAM movement over the last 20 years or so. What are some wins, or significant growth areas that we should note and be thankful for?

Reasons to Celebrate: BAM Leaders Reflect

The movement has gained traction. People now understand the legitimacy and role of BAM in particular and the calling of business in general for the Great Commission. New organizations have been founded to address the gaps in the BAM movement such as mentoring, funding, events for promoting and networking, etc. More established older organizations have begun embracing BAM ministry by starting a division, department or group focused on BAM. The biggest win for me is the wider acceptance of BAM as a way to impact the world for Christ by the global Church (with a capital C). We still have a ways to go, but the progress has been significant. God has used the BAM movement to move the needle. – Joseph Vijayam, BAM Practitioner & Lausanne Catalyst  Read more

10 Pressing Issues to Address in BAM in the Next 20 Years

by Jo Plummer

This year marks around 20 years since the term ‘Business as Mission’ was first used and discussed amongst a growing group of like-minded people around the world. Of course, there were pioneer BAM models before that time, not to mention the fact that business and mission have been integrated in many different ways since Paul the Apostle made tents! However, for this modern iteration, the cohesion and an international conversation around this concept really started around 20 years ago.

I like to think of this pioneer generation and what has followed as ‘BAM 1.0’. It is amazing to reflect on all God has done in our global community in the past couple of decades! Now, as we look forward to the future, we want to explore the theme of ‘BAM 2.0’ for a new series of posts on The BAM Review blog. In the coming months, we’ll discover where we’ve got to and the issues we still face for the future.

To prepare for this series, we asked 20 leaders who have been engaged in business as mission for between 10 and 35 years to tell us what they believe are the most pressing issues we must address if the BAM movement is to be even more fruitful for the next 20 years… and beyond! While this isn’t a scientific survey across the entire BAM community, it does represent wisdom from a collection of leaders who have served long in our movement.

Here are the 10 overarching issues that were identified by these leaders, in no particular order:  Read more

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