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Unleashing the Whole Body of Christ to Reach the Whole World

Matt was thrilled to finally share with his Southeast Asian neighbors all the opportunities to serve them through his social work. He described how he could dig wells for access to clean water, build schools, or hold food and clothing drives to bless their community. To his surprise, his friends told him he was wasting his time. They didn’t want any of that. Instead, they desired access to western markets through Matt’s connections. One friend said, “In this way we can produce a product, sell it to the West, and make money for ourselves. Then with our own money we can choose how to meet the needs of our community such as food, clothing, shelter, and education, instead of having you westerners tell us what we need.”

Matt took this curt response as a sign of genuine friendship and prayerfully considered their advice. Sensing this was the Lord’s will, Matt and his wife Amy left their social work behind and set up an essential oil distillery to harvest local Southeast Asian plant oil; a product highly sought after in the West. This small for-profit manufacturing business provided employment to many farmers throughout the rural countryside and as a result, positively impacted the lives of hundreds of indigenous unreached people. To date, nearly a thousand of these precious people have responded to Jesus Christ in an area that previously had not known His name!

Business for Transformation

God orchestrated this wonderful story of redemption through the dynamic combination of both spiritual and economic ambition. Matt had a background in agriculture, Amy knew chemical engineering, and they both longed for salvation to come to the unreached. All they needed was the candid response of a local friend to help them put all the pieces together into the beautiful concoction of what we at OPEN call Business for Transformation (B4T).

B4T is the strategic use of business and professional skills for the purpose of bringing economic and spiritual transformation to communities among least reached peoples. B4T is the glorious mixture of apostolic zeal to preach the gospel where Christ is not known (Romans 15:20) together with the ancient understanding of work (Genesis 2:15), a God-imaging activity that He receives as worship. (See more here, here, here, and here). 

Every day, nearly 60,000 people1,2 are born into cultures and nations around the world that have little or no access to the Gospel. The vast majority of these nations do not grant visas to Christian religious workers, and even if they did, traditional sending methods could only produce a tiny fraction of the workers needed for the task. Our current efforts to gather worshippers for Jesus from every tribe, tongue and nation must be seriously reevaluated, to include the 99% who do not relate well to the traditional missions approaches for proclaiming the Good News. God’s fame and the eternal destinies of the largest population of lost people in history hang in the balance. 

God is at Work!

Thankfully, with God there is always hope. The rise of many wonderful Faith, Work and Economics (FWE) networks3, Business as Mission (BAM) organizations4, and almost inexhaustible resource libraries and blogs5 on the orthodoxy and orthopraxy of work have greatly multiplied in the past decade.

As a result, many in the Church are being mobilized toward real, practical and spiritual initiatives to bring transformation to their local communities via the marketplace. 

Professionals and business people who have been trained to ask fundamental questions like, “What tangible needs in the market are being overlooked?”, “What are the possible solutions to these needs”, and “What resources, skills, and relationships do I have that could provide for those needs?” are now also starting to ask questions like, “How is God present in my work?”, “In what ways can I incorporate prayer for my co-workers while also modeling Christ’s love towards them?”, and “How should I operate my business so as to glorify God and bless my employees and community?” 

Church leaders are increasingly calling out the unbiblical cultural norm that teaches us to segregate the “sacred” parts of our lives from the “secular” parts. They are commissioning their marketplace congregants as they would their global workers. They are teaching about the priesthood of all believers and expecting them to actually make disciples in their workplaces. Once staunch denominational boundary lines are being traversed as a result of faith and work partnerships.   

Unleashing the Whole Church

Through the increased activity of the faith and work movement across many streams of the Body of Christ, the latent potential of the faithful, job-working, church-volunteering, financially-sustaining majority is slowly being realized. This move of God is laying the groundwork for an enormous and unprecedented surge in potential cross-cultural workers. In this way, God has provided the perfect solution to meet the needs of the world who are not only starving for relationship with God through Jesus, but are often just as impoverished materially as they are spiritually6

In God’s wisdom, He has equipped the Church with virtually every skill, resource, and relationship required to bring both spiritual renewal and economic flourishing to the world through a growing number of men and women who know how to intentionally live out their faith in the marketplace. 

There’s just one problem, at least in the Western Church, most of the faith and work efforts have yet to crossover to the global marketplace, focusing instead on the flourishing of communities where the church already exists. The understanding and application of faith and work as a means for discipling all nations has barely scratched the surface of where it could go. There are various reasons for this but none of them are due to the lack of a working model. 

How OPEN Seeks to Multiply the Impact

Speaking in business terms, the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has already been established and it is effective! B4T stories like Matt and Amy’s in Southeast Asia are happening in many places. Throughout the OPEN Network – a network comprised of faith-filled professionals and business owners living and working in almost every Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist country – there are many successful B4T initiatives resulting in economic and spiritual transformation. B4T as a model in the Church simply needs to be scaled. 

As far as OPEN is concerned, we believe we are strategically positioned to serve the Body of Christ for this purpose, not for the sake and name of OPEN, but to steward the gifts God has given us for His glory. For the last 20 years, B4T practitioners in the OPEN Network have been learning from Jesus how to live this out and help others who desire to do the same. Experienced OPEN Mentors are caring for the next generation of workers through holistic discipling in submission to local sending churches. Yearly gatherings of B4T workers on the field enable field relationships to deepen, establishing community, equipping and sharpening professionals while at the same time enabling the longevity of the work. 

OPEN also serves local churches as they send their professionals to the ends of the earth. OPEN provides internship and apprenticeship opportunities, investment capital, business coaching, cross-cultural discipleship training, networking, and hosts B4T Expos around the world. 

Want to know more? Contact us so we can build a relationship and find ways to serve you and your church as you engage in B4T. Together, let’s be the generation that unleashes the whole body of Christ to reach the whole world. 

For more information about OPEN go to:

www.OPENworldwide.net

OPEN is a network of 300+ people starting businesses and working for both local and international companies in least reached areas. B4T is a growing movement within the BAM world that stresses the two bottom lines of financial success and spiritual impact. OPEN prioritizes the following things:

1. Least-reached people: We establish in areas and with people where there are no or few churches.

2. Profitable and sustainable businesses: Our business owners and all employees draw a salary/paycheck, and bigger businesses have a bigger impact.

3. Jesus’ name: If the authorities, co-workers and community do not know that we love Jesus, then why are we there?

4. Holistic transformation: We impact our local communities in reproducible and measurable ways—first spiritually and economically; then socially and environmentally.

 

 

1 Andrew Scott, Scatter (Moody Publishers, 2016), 11

2 Some global statistics show a world average of 220,000 new births per day.  Joshua Project estimates the populations of all unreached peoples make up 41.6% of the world population, resulting in greater than 90,000 new people added each day to unreached populations.

3 Made to Flourish, Acton Institute, Denver Institute for Faith and Work, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, At Work On Purpose, Center for Faith and Work

4 Business as Mission, Transform Our World, Scatter Global, OPEN

5 Theology of Work Project, B4T Blog, Faith Driven Entrepreneur

6  What is the 10/40 Window? Joshua Project

 

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

 

 

Three Female BAM Owners Tell Us Their HR Stories

Three female BAM owners share their Human Resource stories from around the world – from Mongolia to Turkey to Puerto Rico! People issues can make or break a BAM company. Listen in to these real-life experiences.

hospitalityJulia in Mongolia – Hospitality Industry

Keeping staff steady has been a major challenge! We have had a 10 year saga of people leaving just when we have them trained or half trained. We have also had struggles with people who don’t show up for work, some legitimate, some not. Many have had pressure from family to get work elsewhere for a better salary. This is understandable as many of my workers, mostly young people aged 19-24, are the only providers for their families, parents, and siblings. But what I don’t understand is why they often quit before they find another job!

On the other hand, we have had a pretty good success rate building staff loyalty by setting up flexible schedules that were doable for mothers and students. We have tried to prioritize strong families and build staff schedules that are hand-tailored to their needs. They stay on because no other business takes these things into consideration. We have built very loyal workers from this. Read more

10 Critical Human Resource Challenges in Business as Mission

We asked 25 BAM Practitioners one simple question:

What have been the most important HR issues in your BAM business experience?

Here are the Top 10 issues that they mentioned the most:

 

1. Finding the complete package

Recruiting and hiring people with the right mix of business skills, character formation and mission-motivation.

The biggest issue is finding employees who are followers of Christ and have the skillset required for the job. I usually run into people who have one or the other of these two qualifications, but seldom have both. – Joseph, India

2. Cultural differences

Dealing with different cultural norms between expat staff or business owners and national staff, that significantly impacts the business operations.

It can be tough to implement systems and policies with people who believe all standards can be moderated or ignored. Learning employees’ real opinions in a high context language group is a challenge, where it is a cultural norm to say only what is expected or desired. – Robert, Turkey

3. Disappointment over Christian staff

Finding that Christians hired into the company do not have the right work ethic, competencies or even expected moral standards.  Read more

Identifying and Maximizing BAM Success Factors Part 2

By Paul Harrington

In this new series on ‘BAM Success Factors’ we invite guest authors to share what they consider the key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. To open up the series, Paul Harrington gives us an overview of the most important BAM success factors he has identified through research. Read Part 1 here.

BAM Success Factors Part 2: Interpersonal and Relational Considerations

In the first part of the two-part series on the factors that determine success for BAM practitioners, we looked at the professional and technical characteristics that research shows help determine the likelihood that a BAM practitioner will meet the goals which were established for the enterprise. Many of the factors that indicate future professional success for BAM practitioners are similar to those for small business owners and include:

  • Training and/or experience in operating small or medium-sized businesses,
  • Technical and professional capabilities
  • Cross-cultural norms and skills in the context where the BAM enterprise will operate,
  • Spiritual skills both in and outside of the cultural context of the BAM enterprise, and,
  • Mentoring, support resources and capital.

There are a separate set of interpersonal/relational factors which also affect the likelihood of success for BAM practitioners. Most of these factors are shared with expatriate workers as well as missionaries and other non-profit or religious workers. Multinational companies generally spend much more on sending and supporting their workers than religious or non-profit organizations, although many of the same risk and success factors have been identified with both groups of organizations.  Read more

Really! Work is Worship

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up another great year we will be highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past six months. Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for July to December 2016.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Patrick Lai

The Hebrew word “avodah” (ah-vod-ah) is translated in the English Bible for both work and worship. A better English translation when referring to work is service. God receives work as worship done unto Him. Put simply: work is worship. The similarity between the two clarifies that in God’s eyes our work is worship in that it is not done for our own benefit, but rather as an offering to Him. This means the workplace is God’s place. We are to interact with God and talk about God in our workplace just as we do at church or at home. The workplace is a place of worship where we may express the compassion of Christ in word and deed.

In building a theology of work we need to begin with God’s Word and God’s words.  The Hebrew word avodah is central to understanding God’s view of work and worship. This noun עבדה (avodah), occurs 145 times, making this word group a substantial theme in the Old Testament. The root verb עבד (avad) occurs 289 times in the Bible, mostly in the qal form. This does not include the substantive form, עבד (eved), which occurs an additional 780 times in the Old Testament.  The עבד word group is translated throughout the English Old Testament in three main ways: Read more

Why Do BAMers Give Up & Go Home? The Top 4 Reasons for BAM Attrition

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up another great year we will be highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past six months. Below is the “Staff Pick” for July to December 2016.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

We asked seven BAM mentors to share the reasons for BAMer attrition that they most commonly see. By attrition we mean negative factors that erode a BAMers ability to stay in their job and thus cause them to leave their location or their company – these could be gradual or cataclysmic.

Here are the top four factors the BAM mentors shared and some observations about each one:

1. Commercial failure

As expected, the most commonly cited factor was commercial failure. This covered a very broad area, but there were two strong themes within this category: money and market.

“Money” included both inadequate capitalisation and lack of financial control leading to cashflow problems. “Market” included lack of adequate business planning to determine whether there is a market for the product or service, and lack of ability to pivot to changes in the market.

Sometimes it’s a failure to do suitable and effective research and planning. Is there a need for the product or service? Simple as that. – DS

I’ve got a couple of businesses that are hanging on by the skin of their teeth, and I think it’s problematic. And, in these instances, because they aren’t the type of owners who are the typical risk takers, they don’t make decisions to change their business model easily. – NH Read more

4 Real Threats to the Spiritual Health of a BAMer

Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. – Philippians 2:15-16 (The Message)

I love how The Message renders this exhortation from Paul in Philippians. The more traditional ‘shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life’ is brought to life as an encouragement to be a breath of fresh air to people, showing them what good living is in relationship with the living God.

What a reminder and challenge for each follower of Christ that our own relationship with the Lord is central to our mission! For how can we be a breath of fresh air to others and help people glimpse the living God if we are not experiencing that vital life and connection in our own lives? But we live in the real world with real businesses to run. How can we be ‘light-giving’ when we are under great stress, dealing with the pressures and realities of running a company, often in hostile or difficult circumstances?

This is the question that we put to 12 BAM practitioners. We asked them about the greatest challenges to nurturing or maintaining their spiritual health as a BAMer. We also asked them what had been their most useful habits, practices or resources for nurturing spiritual health. Read more

Why Do BAMers Give Up & Go Home? The Top 4 Reasons for BAM Attrition

We asked seven BAM mentors to share the reasons for BAMer attrition that they most commonly see. By attrition we mean negative factors that erode a BAMers ability to stay in their job and thus cause them to leave their location or their company – these could be gradual or cataclysmic.

Here are the top four factors the BAM mentors shared and some observations about each one:

1. Commercial failure

As expected, the most commonly cited factor was commercial failure. This covered a very broad area, but there were two strong themes within this category: money and market.

“Money” included both inadequate capitalisation and lack of financial control leading to cashflow problems. “Market” included lack of adequate business planning to determine whether there is a market for the product or service, and lack of ability to pivot to changes in the market.

Sometimes it’s a failure to do suitable and effective research and planning. Is there a need for the product or service? Simple as that. – DS

I’ve got a couple of businesses that are hanging on by the skin of their teeth, and I think it’s problematic. And, in these instances, because they aren’t the type of owners who are the typical risk takers, they don’t make decisions to change their business model easily. – NH Read more

7 Things We Have Learned in 10 Years of BAM Consulting

by Larry Sharp and Gary Willett

IBEC Ventures was incorporated in 2006 as a consulting group to provide consulting services primarily to Business as Mission startups in areas where there is high unemployment, great injustice and where there a few followers of Jesus.

IBEC’s Purpose: IBEC helps build sustainable businesses through consultative expertise that changes lives and transforms communities.

IBEC’s Vision: We envision an increasing number of small-medium sustainable Kingdom businesses with our special emphasis on areas that are both economically impoverished and spiritually unreached.

So what have we learned in these last ten years? We have made significant mistakes to be sure; and we have seen some successes, but recently three of us senior leaders considered the question of what we have learned. Here are some of those lessons:

1. Business as mission should be fully integrated

We have learned that this is not business as usual, and this is not missions as usual. BAM is a based in a theology of a ‘worker God’ who created man to be a worker and a creator (Gen 1-2). He also created mankind with various ‘wirings’ and gifts and many are business people with abilities to create wealth (Deut 8:18), as an act of worship and as their unique ministry. Business is a high and holy calling and those gifted to serve the kingdom of God in this way are ministers, fulfilling their spiritual calling. Read more

Really! Work is Worship

by Patrick Lai

The Hebrew word “avodah” (ah-vod-ah) is translated in the English Bible for both work and worship. A better English translation when referring to work is service. God receives work as worship done unto Him. Put simply: work is worship. The similarity between the two clarifies that in God’s eyes our work is worship in that it is not done for our own benefit, but rather as an offering to Him. This means the workplace is God’s place. We are to interact with God and talk about God in our workplace just as we do at church or at home. The workplace is a place of worship where we may express the compassion of Christ in word and deed.

In building a theology of work we need to begin with God’s Word and God’s words.  The Hebrew word avodah is central to understanding God’s view of work and worship. This noun עבדה (avodah), occurs 145 times, making this word group a substantial theme in the Old Testament. The root verb עבד (avad) occurs 289 times in the Bible, mostly in the qal form. This does not include the substantive form, עבד (eved), which occurs an additional 780 times in the Old Testament.  The עבד word group is translated throughout the English Old Testament in three main ways: Read more