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Difficult Days and Easter Promises

by Patrick Lai

Easter is easily my favorite time of the year. I am sure this Easter will be meaningful too, but unlike all previous Easters, like some of you, I will be at home as our city is in lock down. For the first time since Easter 1886 our church, which I dearly love, will be empty on Easter Sunday as we are all meeting online. These are difficult days, but nothing compared to what Jesus endure for us 2000 years ago. In Romans 8 verses 28 to 39 God speaks to us concerning such difficult times as these…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The phrase, all things, appears three times here. In each case it refers to the difficulties Paul is facing. Consider the difficulties he was facing: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and sword, and even death.

In mentioning this phrase “all things” it speaks to what God will do IN and THROUGH us as we face difficulties.

Remember Easter, and in the midst of these difficulties remember that God, through Easter, promises us three things:

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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 spirtual 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 Practical Steps to Experiencing the Spiritual Potential of Your Business

by Dave Kahle

Almost every Christian businessperson has a sense that there is potential in their businesses or professions to make a greater impact for the Kingdom. Unfortunately, the idea is often too vague and unformed in our minds, and therefore seems overwhelming. With no direction from the local congregation, and all the noise surrounding us from the purveyors of worldly wisdom, it’s no wonder we’re confused.

Here are three specific steps that every Christian businessperson and professional can implement to tip the edge of their basket a bit and allow more of their light to shine in the marketplaces that they inhabit.

1.  Embed prayer more deeply into your routines

When God told us to bring everything to him in prayer, he meant exactly that.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6

For many of us, the notion of praying, in depth and detail, for every aspect of our business or professional lives is a novel idea. But it is exactly what we are commanded to do. A business is rich with the fodder through which God loves to engage with us. Think of the thousands of decisions that could be informed by a nudge from the Lord:

  • Employee issues – who to hire, who to promote, to whom to give raises, how much and when, who to train, who to discipline, who to encourage, who to terminate.  Just this category alone can keep us on our knees for hours.
  • Customer issues – who to pursue, who to withdraw from, for whom to make concessions, how aggressively to pursue late payments, how close to get to whom, etc.
  • Financial issues – what to charge, should you borrow, how much and from whom, should you sign a lease, etc.
  • Vendor issues – who to buy from, who to pay, who to nurture, who to hold at arm’s length, how much of what to buy.
  • Personal time and priority management – there are a thousand things to do, but not all of them should be done.  How do we effectively allocate and focus our time and energy?

I could go on and on, but you understand the point. Being a responsible person in a business puts you in the middle of thousands of decisions. It’s like playing racquet ball against three people at once – balls are flying at you from every direction, and you must successfully manage them.

The overwhelming challenge of the marketplace these days just naturally drives the committed Christian to prayer. The challenge is to take what is a natural impulse and turn it into a habitual, dedicated routine. Here’s the way some have done that:

a.  Begin each day, on the job, with a dedicated prayer time.

This means you dedicate the first 15 – 30 minutes of your workday to a conversation with God about the challenges of the day.

You may want to walk the floor, greet each employee and see if there is anything for which you can pray for that person.

Or, you may want to take your calendar for the day, note the decisions you’ll need to make, and make that the focus of your prayer.

b.  Find someone else to regularly pray with you at least once a week.

Make it a regularly scheduled event. Certainly, there are some Christians in your organization or sphere of influence who would be eager to pray with you for the business that provides their livelihood.

You may want to make this prayer opportunity available to everyone, and welcome all participants, or you may want to seek out and enlist one or more special people. For years, my customer service manager and I met in my office, early every Monday morning, 20 minutes before the workday began, and lifted up the week’s events to the Lord.

c.  Gather a prayer team, who will commit to praying for the business at least once a week.

Provide them with a weekly list of challenges and upcoming decisions.

Once you commit to this, the members of the prayer team will eventually appear. I have a group of about eight people who have committed to pray for the business on one day each week. I send them a prayer list every Saturday morning, with the expectation that they are lifting my issues up to the Lord. This process of compiling the weekly list keeps me focused on the most important things, forces me to commit to them on paper, and gives me the confidence to know that prayer surrounds all the major decisions and events in the business.

While prayer is an instinctive response to the overwhelming world will live in, by formalizing it and making it a part of your business routines, you move to a higher level of communication with God than if you leave it to the impulses of the moment.

2.  Rewrite your foundational documents, acknowledging God in them

We’ve all heard about the value of creating a vision, mission and values statement for the business or our profession. I suspect that most Christian businesses have such a set of documents. What is often missing, however, is a written, formal acknowledgement of God’s involvement with the business.

Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. Matthew 10:32, 33

There is a sense of humility and confidence that comes from the act of acknowledging God’s ownership of the business. The fact that you are in the position you are in whether it be ownership, executive position, sales responsibility, or professional practice, the truth is that you were put there by God’s involvement in your life.

When you acknowledge that, in writing, you take a stand and make a commitment. Everyone who reads those documents, whether they be a part of every new employee orientation, the information pack you give to prospective employers, your website, or posted on the lunchroom wall, will know exactly where you stand.

That requires a bit of humility on your part. By acknowledging God’s ownership and involvement in the business, you naturally give him the credit for whatever success that business has, instead of yourself.

But there is also a sense of freedom and confidence that comes with that. If God is for you, who can be against you?

So, make the issue of the exact wording of these documents a matter for the prayer and prayer team, and then craft the words that seem best to you and inspired by God into your foundational documents.

3.  Work diligently at creating a Christian business culture

Wikipedia defines corporate culture this way:

Organizational culture encompasses values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business. The organizational culture influences the way people interact, the context within which knowledge is created, the resistance they will have towards certain changes, and ultimately the way they share (or the way they do not share) knowledge. Organizational culture represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of organizational members and is a product of factors such as history, product, market, technology, strategy, type of employees, management style, and national culture; culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, environment, location, beliefs and habits.

For the Christian businessperson, the culture of the organization is where the values, attitudes, and behaviors of the principals ooze out into the organization and ultimately influence everyone’s behavior. The principals set the standard.  Culture, when done well, proceeds from the top down.

Here’s a simple approach to get you started. Use this phrase often, “Because I’m a Christian, we are going to…”

This should come as no surprise to anyone, as they already know you are a Christian organization (see #2 above). This language, then, makes the connection between your beliefs and your expectation for everyone’s actions. It gives the glory to God, and when done sincerely and repetitively, will move the company’s attitudes, beliefs and actions to a place that will shine your light more brightly.

  

This article is adapted from a post first published on the Biblical Business blog here.

Dave KahleDave Kahle has been a Bible teacher, elder, house church leader, short-term missionary and Christian executive roundtable leader. For 30 years, he has been an authority on sales and sales systems, having spoken in 47 states and eleven countries. He has authored 13 books, including The Good Book on Business. Sign up for his weekly messages here.

More from Dave at: www.davekahle.com and www.thebiblicalbusiness.com.

 

Book - Good Book on Business

Have you ever thought your business was meant to be much more than just a means to make money?

Biblical businesses are God’s first choice as the means to bless mankind, build character, and develop faith.  They hold the solution for much of what ails our economy and our culture.

Join Dave Kahle as he explores what the Bible has to say about businesses and your role in leading a kingdom oriented business.  You’ll uncover Biblical truths that you may have never seen before. Your views on business will never be the same.

Find your place in the movement and unlock the full potential of your business. 

Buy The Good Book on Business on Amazon

 

 

 

 

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

 

Let’s Get Local: Developing Both the Localization and Globalization of BAM

by Joseph Vijayam

In 2013 I was on a business trip in Jakarta. One afternoon my host asked if I would join him for a gathering of believers in his office building. To my surprise, this was not a small gathering of believers; it was a full-fledged worship service with songs, intercession, testimonies, and a short sermon with over 100 people in attendance. During the time of testimonies, people were sharing about their needs, including those at work, home, and in their communities. One of the business owners in the room shared that he sees himself as a pastor to his co-workers. At that moment, I realized that here in one of the megacities of Asia, weekly church service had taken a new form. The venue was a business conference room, the people in attendance came as individuals rather than families, significant time was spent in sharing of testimonies by new believers, and the time of their meeting was on a busy weekday. Every aspect of the event perfectly fit the needs of first-generation believers working in high rise offices in Jakarta. 

Though the purpose and function of the Body of Christ have remained the same, its local form has changed from age to age and from one culture to another. What I experienced in Jakarta was a unique expression of the local church that is ideal to the city of Jakarta for this generation. If the gathering of believers can take different forms, can our approach to bringing people into the Church be just as creative and specific to their situation? Not only do I believe that it can, I think it is essential.  Read more

Multiplication: Why the BAM Movement Needs You!

by Jo Plummer

December 2018 marks four full years of the new Business as Mission website and the launch of The BAM Review blog and today marks the 100th Edition of The BAM Review email, that has been going out to our subscriber list twice a month since January 2015!

With these milestones to celebrate and the end of another year approaching, I thought I would take some time to reflect on Business as Mission – read Part 1 here

Part 2

Aha Moments

I remember reading an email from a businessman a few years ago in response to a previous suggestion by Mats that the ‘as mission’ in business as mission could eventually be dropped. This person had recently connected with the global BAM community and was newly inspired by the ‘as mission’, and thus he strongly lamented the suggestion that it could be abandoned in the future. ‘Business as mission’ could never, in his view, be condensed back down to mere ‘business’ because for him that meant old ways of thinking about his vocation that had nothing to do with his faith or God’s kingdom work.  Read more

Reflections on Business as Mission: For the 100th Edition of The BAM Review

by Jo Plummer

December 2018 marks four full years of the new Business as Mission website and the launch of The BAM Review blog. We have now been posting one or two BAM blogs weekly for almost 208 weeks, and with the addition of a few posts from our old website catalogue, we have now posted a total of 461 blogs on this site!

In addition, Tuesday 18th December will mark the 100th Edition of The BAM Review email, that has been going out to our subscriber list twice a month since January 2015!

With these milestones to celebrate and the end of another year approaching, I thought I would take some time to reflect on Business as Mission with an additional response to the article by Mats Tunehag ‘Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever!’ – continuing on from Ross O’Brien’s response of last week.

I will round out this two-part article with the suggestion that the business as mission movement is like the bricks and mortar in a wall – and that we will need more of both in order to grow to full strength in the future.  Read more

God Uses Business to Bring You Closer to Him

by Dave Kahle

God uses our businesses as devices to nudge us closer to Him and to build the attitudes and practices that enable our next step up the spiritual growth continuum.

It was 2010, and the financial crises which exploded in 2008 was, at last, reaching my business. My clients, B2B sales organizations, were shrinking and a few were going out of business. Investing in developing their sales force – the heart of my business – was nowhere on their agenda.

Whereas we had done fully-subscribed sales seminars around the country for ten years previously, now we canceled 9 of 10 seminars for lack of registrations. Individual speaking engagements had disappeared, and sales of books and videos had shrunk to next to nothing. Our corporate income declined by 80%.

The business that had consumed most of my time and energy for 20 years was disappearing. It was like a big part of me had withered away and was being amputated.

On the day that I canceled the last three seminars for lack of registrations, I realized that we had nothing booked for the future. I was going to have to lay off most of my staff.

I closed the door to my office and burst into tears. The business that had consumed most of my time and energy for 20 years was disappearing. It was like a big part of me had withered away and was being amputated.

“Lord,” I cried, “what do you want from me?”   Read more

The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission: The Power of Integration

by Will Sorrell

Conference centers fill and coffee carafes empty at countless Christian conferences each year. Recently, faith and work1 as well as business as mission (BAM)2 have been popular themes. They are similar in scope, seeking Gospel renewal and redemption in and through the vehicle of work. Nevertheless, these interrelated fields do not intersect nearly enough.

A recent article from Mats Tunehag, co-author of BAM Global Movement, describes the business as mission movement as upheld and driven by three biblical mandates: the Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:28), the Greatest Commandment (Matt. 22:37-39), and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). He precisely states that those engaged in BAM must keep all three at the forefront of their intentions, their businesses, and their missions. This is a helpful framework, but does not always materialize in a balanced way. It is not difficult to imagine some BAM entrepreneurs and tentmakers3 placing emphasis upon the Commission over the Cultural Mandate.

Faith and work invites Christians to see the God-ordained value in their existing vocation. Work that promotes human, environmental, and economic flourishing is indeed worship, and we must treat it accordingly.

Meanwhile, the rapidly growing faith and work movement—in the United States and elsewhere—heavily emphasizes societal renewal. Faith and work invites Christians to see the God-ordained value in their existing vocation. Work that promotes human, environmental, and economic flourishing is indeed worship, and we must treat it accordingly. However, faith and work integration must not neglect the charge to make disciples locally and globally.  Read more

Beyond God Bless You and Merry Christmas

by Mike Sharrow

I grew up in Alaska, in a melting pot of transient people and cultures (there are only 17 of us genuine Alaskans). I embarked on college then early career pursuits at a Fortune 50 company in Chicago where Christianity in the workplace was peculiar and I first wrestled with my own “sacred versus secular” frustrations. Then, in 2006, I moved to Texas and was surprised to find out that “everybody [practically] is Christian here!” At least, I heard a lot of Christianese and there was even a Christian business chamber of commerce.

What Does it Mean to Be a Faith Driven Entrepreneur?

Blown away by this apparent oasis of fellow sojourners in business and the Kingdom, I began to ask every entrepreneur I could “So, what does it mean that you’re a Christ-follower running your business?” With every answer my heart sank.

The top 5 answers I received representing scores of in person surveys:

1. I’m not afraid to say God Bless you or Merry Christmas!

2. We pay people fairly, treat people well and tell the truth (slow clap)

3. We do a good job and I give a fair bit of money away to a lot of good causes

4. Everybody knows I’m a member of Acme Really Christian Church and vote for the Bible believing political party (which I didn’t know that party existed)

5. Can’t you see the fish on my business card!?

I concluded too many people confuse being American or, in this case, Texan, with being citizens of the Kingdom of God operating as called and commission ambassadors stewarding business assets of our Father’s Holding Company for His purposes and His glory.  Read more

Three Lessons from The Good Book on Business

If Christian business leaders would accept their significant role in the Kingdom, we could transform the world! However, two current cultural paradigms hold back Christian businesses and prevent them from fulfilling their purpose: The secular idea that business is just about making money, and the Christian cultural idea that business is really a second-class occupation, subservient to the institutional church clergy.

Dave Kahle addresses these challenges in his book The Good Book on Business and helps us grow in our understanding of the importance of business in the Kingdom of God. Beginning with the first words God spoke to Adam and continuing through the entire Bible, Kahle shows that business was, and is, God’s first choice as a venue through which to interact with mankind, take care of people, grow character and faith, and channel God’s power and providence. Here are a three take-aways from the book for those wondering what the Bible has to do with their business:

1. God at Work

At the start, there is the foundational truth that God himself is a worker, as shown through His creation of the universe and culminating with His creation of humankind. God created humankind in His image, and so it is His intent for us is to also be workers, and by extension, to be involved in business.  Read more