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The Mindset of a BAMer: Lessons from Paul the Apostle

by Min-Dong Paul Lee and Dave Pederson, Wheaton College

Read Part 1

BAMers have two integrated identities: Missional and entrepreneurial identities. We know that our missional identity is grounded in our conviction as stewards of God’s mission. Then, what is part of our entrepreneurial identity? What distinguishes entrepreneurs from everyone else?

In their influential study, The Entrepreneurial Mindset, McGrath and MacMillan define five critical characteristics of entrepreneurs as (1) opportunity-seeking, (2) disciplined, (3) focused, (4) adaptive, and (5) collaborative. Are these characteristics relevant for BAM entrepreneurs? Through examples from the work and life of Apostle Paul, we show Paul’s entrepreneurial mindset, firmly anchored in stewardship identity, was an essential driving force for his mission.

Opportunity-Seeking

The first characteristic of an entrepreneurial mindset is opportunity-seeking. Like good chess players, entrepreneurs are not just focused on what is happening on the board. Instead, their mind is racing ahead to predict the moves ahead. Entrepreneurs stay alert and constantly scan the environment to look for new opportunities.

The Book of Acts paints a fascinating portrait of the Apostle Paul, a man whose defining characteristic was his relentless pursuit of opportunity. While he sought opportunities to advance his career and crush the nascent Christian movement before the Damascus experience, after conversion, his opportunity-seeking mindset was redirected towards spreading the Gospel in Damascus and Jerusalem. Yet, Paul’s initial zeal did not always yield positive results. His attempt to preach to the Hellenistic Jews in Jerusalem backfired, forcing him to retreat to his hometown of Tarsus (Acts 9:28-30).

This experience may have been another critical turning point for Paul. What he thought was an opportunity was only a distraction when it was not God’s timing. Nonetheless, Paul had the humility to listen to others and went back home to Tarsus and the surrounding regions.

When God’s timing arrived, in contrast to his earlier self-directed pursuit of opportunity, Paul sought opportunities in God’s will and timing. This shift led him to unexpected and fruitful places. For instance, in the Philippi prison, Paul shared the gospel with the jailer’s family. His commitment to spreading the gospel extended even to encounters with powerful rulers. When engaging with King Agrippa, Paul’s passionate proclamation left a lasting impression. Agrippa, taken aback, remarked, “In a short time, would you persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28). Paul’s reliance on divine guidance allowed him to discover opportunities he did not anticipate.

The Spirit-guided insight for spotting fruitful opportunities is an essential quality of a BAMer.

Discipline and Focus

Discipline and focus are intricately connected like the two sides of the same coin. Once entrepreneurs spot opportunities, they pursue them with enormous discipline and focus. They have a bias toward action and are disciplined to turn ideas into products and services that meet real needs. Focus demands an unrelenting prioritization of the best opportunity. The entrepreneurs first select the most fertile battleground – the industry or arena with the most promise. Then, within this chosen domain, they focus on the most attractive opportunity. This inevitably necessitates trade-offs. Other potentially alluring opportunities are cast aside. They understand they must give up something to focus on the best possible opportunity. Read more

The Apostle Paul: An Entrepreneurial Steward

by Min-Dong Paul Lee and Dave Pederson, Wheaton College

The Apostle Paul is one of the most extensively studied biblical characters. However, much of the research focused on his theology, leaving Paul’s human side – his behaviors and motivations – underexplored. With the advancement of modern behavioral sciences, new conceptual tools are available to analyze his ministry from fresh perspectives. For example, what would we learn if we examined Paul’s ministry through the lens of modern entrepreneurial research?

Paul: The Accidental Theologian and Natural Entrepreneur

Paul was a theologian by accident. He didn’t see himself as a writer of long treatises. Rather, he saw himself as God’s servant and practitioner carrying out the pastoral and missionary work of the emerging movement of Jesus’ followers. If we focus on his actions and decisions, we see a unique figure that was highly proactive and entrepreneurial. He planted over a dozen churches, coached many leaders, wrote almost half of the New Testament books, and engaged in trades in multiple cities.

Paul’s life is an apt example of what modern organizational scholars describe as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have the uncanny ability to see the unmet needs in the market. They are willing to take the risk to create something that exploits the opportunity to add value to society. Modern entrepreneurship research suggests that entrepreneurs possess a distinct mindset characterized by five key features:

1. Opportunity-Seeking: They stay alert and actively scan the environment for new opportunities

2. Disciplined: They are determined and persistent in pursuing their goals

3. Focused: They prioritize specific goals and are willing to make strategic tradeoffs

4. Adaptable: They adjust their strategies to the changing environment

5. Collaborative: They recognize the power of working together with others

Interestingly, Paul had all the marks of an entrepreneur even before his conversion. Paul was a Hellenistic Jew from Tarsus in the province of Cilicia. Yet, he moved to Jerusalem to become a student of Gamaliel, a leading figure among the Pharisees in Jerusalem, eager to climb the religious ladder. When the Jesus sect emerged, Paul saw it as a heretical threat and began to persecute them with discipline and focus. He often adapted his strategies of persecution, growing ever more violent. He was willing to collaborate with even the Sadducees to achieve his objective. Paul was an ambitious entrepreneur driven by his religious zeal and personal success.

Transformation as an Entrepreneurial Steward

Everything changes on the road to Damascus. The encounter with the risen Christ shook Paul to the core and fundamentally transformed his identity, purpose, and practice. It is not that he lost his entrepreneurial edge. Instead, God redirected his natural disposition toward a whole new mission (Acts 9:15). Paul continued applying an entrepreneurial mindset in his missionary work. However, instead of being self-driven and opportunistic, he submitted himself entirely to the leading of his master and committed to the new mission. To describe this unique blend of entrepreneurial mindset with a servant’s heart, we introduce the term entrepreneurial steward. Entrepreneurial stewards are people whose identity is firmly anchored in the stewardship commitment to serve their master’s interest while leveraging their entrepreneurial talents. Read more

Four Contexts to Integrate the Four Bottom Lines of BAM

In the month of June we are highlighting excerpts from the recently published BAM Global Report on BAM and Mission Agencies. Mission Agencies are a major constituency in the BAM community, alongside our main business constituency and also the church and academia. We believe these resources will be of value whether you are agency affiliated or part of another BAM constituency.

 

Integration of the four bottom lines

Business as mission involves the intentional integration of business and holistic mission. It is in response to mandates God has given to us, His people, including:

  • The Creation Mandate given in Genesis 1 to ‘tend the garden’ and enable human society and creation to flourish
  • The Great Commandment to love God above all else, to obey His commands and to love our neighbour as ourselves
  • The Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all Jesus’ teachings

Our response in business as mission is to seek sustainable, holistic transformation for people and communities through for-profit business models.

As we have seen above, we want to plan for, implement, measure, and grow sustainability and impact in four main areas: spiritual, economic, social and environmental. Although we should examine each one in turn in order to be intentional about each, in the context of the daily business operations these four areas of impact cannot be compartmentalised, they are meshed together in BAM companies.

However, many of us have inherited dichotomised ways of thinking about what is sacred and what is secular. We may be used to compartmentalising our lives; between faith and work, between gospel witness and environmental stewardship, between ‘ministry activities’ and ‘making payroll’ (i.e. paying our employees), for instance. We may come from a church or mission tradition that prioritises personal evangelism over socio-economic justice (or vice versa). As a result, we might have to work hard to be intentional about integrating business and mission together—both individually and in the agency as a whole—and we should consider how to do this in four main ways:

1. Personal integration and preparation

As we (BAM practitioners) are integrated, so our businesses will be integrated. As we live integrated lives as disciples of Jesus, the rule of God’s Kingdom will extend to every part of our lives. Preparation for fruitful business as mission thus begins by being rooted in Christ, abiding in Him (John 15:1-5, Col 2:7) and by developing patterns of thinking that are transformed by that relationship (Rom 12:2). Integration flows from our theology and is expressed through our walk with Jesus in daily life.

It may be helpful to prepare for BAM by examining our own thinking in light of the sacred-secular divide and make a study of the Bible on topics such as economics, business, human flourishing, justice, mission and restoration, for example. Does our worldview align with God’s view of us as integrated people and communities?

As we commune with Jesus and seek the will of God, we allow ourselves to be integrated into his plan and He is able to use us in big, small, obvious, and surprising ways to advance his Kingdom. Being yoked with Him, allowing Him to carry our heavy burdens, we are able to rely on His direction and not on our own striving or direction. As we listen to His voice and obey it, we can follow the miraculous life that Jesus modelled for us as his disciples—in business.

2. Integration in business planning

To fulfil its potential to create integrated impact, a BAM business needs to have a clear plan for reaching profitability, alongside creating spiritual, social, and environmental impact. The first step in the process is to identify a business model that could be viable and profitable in the target location, among the community the business team hopes to reach and enable to flourish. This step may take extensive research and reconnaissance. Good community development practices, alongside business planning practices, should be engaged to research and discover the felt-needs of the community, rather than imposing solutions to social, economic or environmental problems from an external perspective. Read more

4 BAM Bottom Lines: Doing Spiritual, Economic, Social and Environmental Good

In the month of June we are highlighting excerpts from the recently published BAM Global Report on BAM and Mission Agencies. Mission Agencies are a major constituency in the BAM community, alongside our main business constituency and also the church and academia. We believe these resources will be of value whether you are agency affiliated or part of another BAM constituency.

 

The BAM and Mission Agencies Consultation considered the full and effective integration of business and mission and how we keep a positive tension between the multiple bottom lines of BAM. Working subgroups focused on each of the four bottom lines of spiritual, financial, social and environmental outcomes for BAM and these discussions were framed by dialogue on integrating ‘multiple bottom line impact’ in a BAM company.

Introduction to the ‘Quadruple Bottom Lines’ (QBL) of BAM

Business as mission, as we have read in the BAM Global definition, is intentional Kingdom of God purpose and impact on people and nations; focused on holistic transformation and the four bottom lines of economic, social, environmental and spiritual outcomes.

The idea of having multiple bottom lines for a business comes from the original ‘financial bottom line’—the number that indicates net profit (or loss) typically found at the bottom of a company’s income statement. A company that is solely focused on making money for its shareholders will only be concerned about this one ‘bottom line’, its financial earnings. The social enterprise movement introduced the idea of ‘triple bottom line’ impact that is also concerned with social and environmental outcomes. Business as mission extends this idea to ‘quadruple bottom line’ (or four bottom line) impact, including spiritual impact as well.

If intentional impact along these multiple bottom lines is a hallmark of BAM, agencies will do well to build a solid understanding of each. As has been previously stated, while these four areas of impact are integrated together in terms of the business model, strategy and daily operations—all things working together for missional impact—there are times when the focus should be on each one separately. This is especially true when planning for positive outcomes in each. Then careful consideration is needed as to how success is defined in each area and, therefore, how progress is measured so that there can be accountability and ongoing evaluation.

For business as mission, the four bottom lines are:

1. Doing spiritual good

Acting on the belief that faith in Jesus and a reconciled relationship with God addresses sin and brokenness at an individual and societal level that are the root cause of all other social, environmental and economic problems. Lasting change (God’s Kingdom coming on earth) and salvation from death and sin can only occur when our relationship with God, self, each other, and creation are reconciled. It involves sharing the gospel in word and deed, living as a disciple of Christ as a witness to others, and making disciples. Read more

Why BAM? It’s Biblical, Strategic and Time for New Wineskins!

In the month of June we are highlighting excerpts from the recently published BAM Global Report on BAM and Mission Agencies. Mission Agencies are a major constituency in the BAM community, alongside our main business constituency and also the church and academia. We believe these resources will be of value whether you are agency affiliated or part of another BAM constituency.

Why Mission Agencies do Business as Mission

Business as mission (BAM) is the strategic use of authentic business activities that create authentic ministry opportunities that bring spiritual, economic, social and environmental transformation to unreached peoples and marginalised people. In other words, it is taking the instrument of business, with its innate, God-given ability and power to do good in the world, and intentionally harnessing that power towards the work of mission.

There has been much discussion around the value of and justification for doing business as mission, not least among mission agency leaders. We would like to suggest that there are at least three strong bases for taking a positive approach: It is biblical, it is strategic, and it is time for new wineskins.

It is biblical

There are numerous themes in the scriptures that provide strong support for running businesses that give expression to Kingdom of God values and purposes.

In Genesis 1 and 2, we see God’s great enterprise of creation by which He reveals Himself as the original Great Entrepreneur. God created human beings ‘in his own image’ (Gen 1:2), as creative beings who are to co-labour with him to steward creation through innovation and work. They are to use the fruit of their labours to sustain families and communities, and to care for others.

In Deuteronomy 8, God reminds his people Israel not to forget him as they prepare to enter the promised land—to settle down and start agricultural and mining businesses (Deut 8:8-9)—because ‘it is [God] who gives you the ability to produce wealth’. In the desert, the Lord had provided manna daily, but when the people entered this new land the manna stopped immediately because God designed human society to be provided for through enterprise and work. Business is a God-designed and ordained institution that can bring glory to Him. Business done well involves innovating with natural resources, good stewardship of these resources, the opportunity for dignified work, the creation of life-enhancing products and services, and the multiplication of resources and wealth that enable people and societies to flourish and advance.

The Apostle Paul exhorted Christ’s followers to work hard and not be idle (2 Thes 3:10-12), and modelled the value of work and enterprise by his own example. Paul seemingly engaged in the business of making tents (or perhaps leather working or saddle making) to provide for financial needs (1 Cor 9:6), to ensure his message was credible by being free of the complications of patronage (Cor 9: 18, 2 Cor 12:14), to enable mobility and open up opportunities to meet and spend significant time with others (Acts 18:1-3), and to model the Christian lifestyle (1 Thes 4:11-12, 2 Thes 3: 6-9).

Justice and concern for the poor and marginalised is a theme pervading the scriptures and one in which all business as mission practitioners can actively participate and make a significant contribution. Starting business as mission enterprises enables us to ‘open our arms to the poor’; just as the entrepreneurial woman in Proverbs 31 did as she worked hard, produced good products, and traded well.

Read more

Business as Mission Foundations: 4 Things You Should Know About BAM

by Jo Plummer

 

1. We can’t talk about ‘business as mission’ until we talk about ‘business’

Business is part of God’s good plan for human flourishing and has a God-designed power and role in human society. Business as mission takes this intrinsic God-given power and role of business and intentionally uses it as an instrument for mission. Just as water or wind power can be intentionally harnessed to do more good (or harm), business as mission is harnessing the power of business for God’s glory, the gospel, and the common good.

It is therefore vitally important that we have a good grasp of what the Bible says about business – and indeed, economics, human flourishing and God’s mission to the world – before we then apply those fundamental truths about God’s purposes to doing business as mission. Let us build on solid biblical foundations!

What we don’t want to do is create a new ‘sacred-secular divide’ while trying to break down the old one. Business does not need to be sanctified by being engaged as an instrument for mission, it is already part of God’s good design. Just as one vocation is not more spiritual or sacred than another, the same goes for different kinds of business. We can glorify God through work and our vocations, wherever we are.

For more on this idea read here and for a biblical foundation for BAM read here.

 

2. Business as mission is part of a broader movement, but also has a unique and distinctive response to the world’s most pressing issues

For example, business as mission is part of the wider shift in the global church towards more integral (or holistic) models of mission that break down the dichotomy between evangelism and social responsibility. But it is also distinctive in that it emphasises for-profit solutions to mission challenges, rather than charitable or donor-driven mission models.

Business as mission is also part of a broader re-evaluation in society concerning the purpose of business beyond financial returns for shareholders. This movement towards ‘social enterprise’, ‘impact investment’, ‘conscious capitalism, etc. focuses instead on creating ‘shared value’ for many stakeholders, with positive social and environmental impact included alongside economic impact. Although these expressions of social enterprise sometimes encompass spiritual impact as well, BAM always includes spiritual impact. Business as mission makes central a restored relationship with God, through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross – plus all the implications for restored relationship with our neighbours and creation that will also bring.

Business as mission is part of a growing movement to integrate faith and work and to encourage entrepreneurs and business professionals everywhere to be ‘faith-driven’ – and such integration must be foundational in every BAM company. However, business as mission is also distinctive in that the ‘ministry’ happens both within the business context AND also through the business model, through every part of the business strategy and operations. Business as mission sees business both as the medium and the message.

By calling out the distinctives of BAM, we are not implying that it is superior to any other model or emphasis. However, it does require a particular set of methodologies, tools and resources, that benefit from a common language, a community of practice, and a connected, supportive ecosystem.

We are also not saying that the term ‘business as mission’ itself is unique, as there are many other terms in English and of course other languages that are used for the same idea. Rather it is the concept of business as mission (whatever you want to call it) – the idea behind it – that is distinctive.

To read more on the distinctives of BAM and its relationship to ideas like workplace ministries, tentmaking and other mission models, read Chapter 1 of the Lausanne Occasional Paper on BAM: ‘What is Business as Mission?

Read more

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

There’s a Role for You in the BAM Ecosystem! Four People Share [Video]

Listen to four people share firsthand how they are contributing their unique gifts and experiences to build the BAM ecosystem.

 


 
The BAM ecosystem is bigger than you think! As well as BAM practitioners – those who actually run the business as mission companies – there are countless others supporting those practitioners and companies.

From mobilisers, to investors… from intercessors, to mentors… from communicators, to business incubators… from recruiters, to trainers… and many more. As well as businesses and business services, the BAM movement also includes academics, mission leaders, church leaders and others.

There is a role for you!
 

>> Read Part 1 of this series for ways to get involved!

 

Discover more on Launching and Landing for BAM and Incubation and Ecosystem.

More great BAM resources at our online Business as Mission Resource Library and The BAM Review Blog.

Are we missing any resources that should be listed? Contact us to share them.

 

 

BAM Ecosystem Builders: How You Can Support the Business as Mission Movement

by Jo Plummer

 

As we began exploring last month, there are many different ways to get involved in business as mission and the BAM movement needs many types of people, skills, experiences and passions. If you are interested in engaging with BAM, there is a path and role for you!

To recap, the two broad pathways are:
1) Getting involved by doing business as mission yourself, in a BAM company context, or
2) Enabling, resourcing or connecting others involved in BAM — through activities such as mentoring, investing, praying, building networks, incubating, training, mobilising, and so on!

God has equipped each of us with various skill sets and backgrounds and He is leading each of us on unique paths.

 

Last month, we started with the topic of getting involved in doing BAM yourself. This month, we’ll continue with ways to support and resource others to do BAM – in other words, how to help build the business as mission ecosystem!

Business as mission companies and practitioners need many different kinds of support and resources to thrive. From obvious roles such as business incubators, investors, mentors, and trainers…

To perhaps less obvious ones, like network builders, recruiters and mobilisers, that enable the pipeline of people getting involved in BAM to flow…

Or communicators and content creators to keep the ideas and stories flowing…

Or perhaps prayer partners to help us all keep in step with the Holy Spirit…

There are many different and necessary roles in the BAM ecosystem!

 

Get Involved Building the BAM Ecosystem

If you are interested in getting more involved in supporting business as mission, chances are you are thinking about one or more of the following:

Providing support and services to individual BAM companies/practitioners, such as consulting, recruiting, investing, prayer, etc.
Building a network or entrepreneurial ecosystem that focuses on a particular region, industry or issue, for example a regional BAM network, a city-focused business incubator, or an alliance or community of practice for a particular speciality.
Contributing skills or services to the global BAM ecosystem as a whole, such as training, mobilisation, communications, prayer, and so on.

And these often overlap. For instance, we pray both for individual BAM companies and the BAM movement every month in BAM Global prayer calls. A city-wide business incubator will also provide services to individual companies. And so on.

So bearing that in mind, here are some different roles in the BAM ecosystem and some ideas for how to get involved in them: Read more

Pathways into BAM: Resources for Your Journey

by Jo Plummer

 

There are many different ways to get involved in business as mission and the BAM movement needs many types of people, skills, experiences and passions. If you are interested in engaging with BAM, there is a path and role for you!

The two broad pathways are:
1) Getting involved by doing business as mission yourself, in a BAM company context, or
2) Enabling, resourcing or connecting others involved in BAM — through activities such as mentoring, investing, praying, building networks, incubating, training, mobilising, and so on!

 

God has equipped each of us with various skill sets and backgrounds, leading each of us on unique paths. No matter how you’ve been equipped, what role you have in business as mission, or where you are on your journey, we hope you will find the resources on this website useful and encouraging.

This month we are starting a blog series that will explore different pathways into BAM and different ways to be involved. We begin this month with the topic of getting involved in doing BAM yourself. In the coming months, we’ll explore more ideas for enabling, resourcing and connecting others to do BAM. If option 2 is you, get ready… we’ll have blogs on resourcing others in BAM and building the BAM ecosystem coming soon.

Get Involved Doing BAM

If you are interested in getting involved in doing business as mission yourself, chances are you are thinking about one of the following options:

A: Starting up a BAM company
B: Joining a BAM company that someone else has started
C: Repurposing an existing company to integrate BAM principles into it

 

There is no right or wrong way to get involved in BAM, but here are some helpful ideas and a roundup of resources for whichever option you are exploring…

General Resources for Everyone

Whatever your approach or path, here are a few resources that will help you get a good foundation in BAM:

BAM Global Summit

Join us at our online BAM Global Summit on Thursday 9th May. With the tagline Accelerate… your journey, your business, the movement, together – the whole goal is to inspire, equip and connect you for your unique journey in BAM. Get a glimpse of what God is doing around the world in business as mission and discover how to be a part of it. Find out more here.

 

BAM Manifesto

The BAM Manifesto is our foundational document to frame business as mission; it shares in one page what BAM is all about. Read it here.

 

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