12 Ways that Business as Mission is Bigger Than You Think 

As we start the new year, we are revisiting some foundational material on what business as mission means. Here’s a classic article from Mats to expand our thinking about BAM.

By Mats Tunehag


Business as Mission is a growing global movement of Christians in the marketplace asking: How can we shape business to serve people, align with God’s purposes, be good stewards of the planet and make a profit?

We are on a mission in and through business. It is for example a mission of justice. One could even say ‘Business as Justice’. This and other terms may help us understand the holistic and transformational nature of Business as Mission.

Let me give 12 brief examples. The list could be made longer, but these 12 will hopefully show that Business as Mission is not just doing business with a touch of “churchianity”.

1. Business as Justice

God loves justice and hates injustice. God sent prophets again and again who spoke out against injustice, and they demanded change and correction. Injustice often manifested itself in the marketplace: it was corruption, labor exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people like immigrants. To pursue honest business and care for staff is Business as Justice. To treat customers and suppliers well is also a part of this God honoring pursuit. Business as Justice includes fighting corruption and bribery.

2. Business as True Religion

True worship is to take care of widows and orphans (James 1:27). These are two vulnerable groups, who often are exploited in the marketplace today. Human traffickers often target lonely children. Circumstances and cunning people may force widows into prostitution. These are realities in many parts of the world. Who will offer orphans and widows a future; give them jobs with dignity, so they can support themselves and others? That would be Business as True Religion.

 3. Business as Shalom

Shalom is a Biblical concept of good and harmonious relationships. But relationships were damaged and broken through the fall in Genesis chapter 3. Through Christ there is a way to restored relationship with God, with one another, and with creation. Business is so much about relationships, with staff, colleagues, peers, customers, clients, suppliers, family, community, tax authorities, and so forth. How can we as Christians in business strive towards Shalom; Business as Shalom?

4. Business as Stewardship

Every human being has been entrusted with gifts and talents. In business we also talk about assets. Stewardship is another important Biblical concept. How can we use what we have to serve? What does stewardship mean when we own and / or run a business? God has given some people strong entrepreneurial gifts. They can be used for God and for the common good through business. It is the same with managerial gifts or gifts of bookkeeping or sales. We should encourage people with business skills to be good stewards of their gifts – Business as Stewardship.

5. Business as Servant Leadership

Jesus came to serve. He was an example of good and godly leadership. Many books are written on this topic and it indicates the importance of the very concept of servant leadership. Doing business as unto the Lord means that we also explore what servant leadership means in the business context. It is not a simple formula or a cookie cutter approach. It may look differently in different industries and cultures. But the key underlying principle is to serve people, communities, nations, and God. We are too often reminded about the lack of good leadership in the business world. Business as Servant Leadership is more than needed. Read more

Business With a Mission: Go With God and the Flow

A New Year message from BAM Global leader Mats Tunehag, with a reminder to go with God and the flow this year.

By Mats Tunehag

God called Abraham to leave his hometown and go to another country. The direction was clear, but it was a journey with few, if any, details sketched out.

Moses wanted to help his enslaved fellow Jews, but he acted violently and prematurely. He was sent on a cool down period which lasted for decades. But then God appeared to him and called him on a defined mission: Freedom!

Again, it involved a journey, but little did he and the others know that it would take 40 years. The mission was clear, but it was not a detailed five-year strategic plan that steered them. God guided Moses and the people of Israel on their long journey. They repeatedly had to problem-solve as they faced new issues and entered uncharted territories.

Called to a mission with no plan?

There’s a long list of people in the Old Testament who God called to a mission, but they were not given a plan. They tended to doubt their ability to fulfill their roles and missions. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks observes about Moses and others:

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” said Moses to God. “And how can I possibly get the Israelites out of Egypt?” Ex. 3:11 … “…people who turn out to be the most worthy are the ones who deny they are worthy at all. The Prophet Isaiah, when charged with his mission, said, ‘I am a man of unclean lips’ (Is. 6:5). Jeremiah said, ‘I cannot speak, for I am a child’ (Jer. 1:6). David, Israel’s greatest king, echoed Moses’ words, ‘Who am I?’ (2 Samuel 7:18). Jonah, sent on a mission by God, tried to run away.

They were people who doubted their own abilities. There were times when they felt like giving up. Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah and Jonah reached points of such despair that they prayed to die. … It is almost as if a sense of smallness is a sign of greatness.[1]

Caught between a rock and a hard place

Moses had left the royal court and he was no longer one of them. And his people of birth initially rejected him as a leader. Now he was to talk to two groups which didn’t trust him, and he really wasn’t deeply connected with either one. And the demands Moses presented to Pharaoh did not reveal a comprehensive plan.

We may sometimes feel like Moses, caught between a rock and a hard place, pursuing business with a mission. Not quite accepted by the church, and not fully understood by the business community. At times it may not be easy to convey our mission, as not everything can be quantified and put in a strategic plan. Also, things may progress a lot slower than we anticipate.

It is also worth noting that encounters with God were followed by a mission, people were given an assignment. It was not just a moment of bliss for their own edification. Rather, it often meant hardships coming up, and a life with many unknowns. They were to be true to God and their God-given mission, but they didn’t have a detailed plan, nor could they fully comprehend the implications of the journeys they started. Read more

Long-term Justice: Business Solutions to Human Trafficking

In our series this month “Exploring BAM as Justice: Choosing Hope in the Face of Challenge” we’re taking a deep dive into the intersection of faith, business, and complex global realities. We’ll be looking at business as mission’s impact on poverty and justice issues across the globe. Our final post for the series is ‘from the archives’, revisiting this post on what it takes to bring long-term justice and transformation.

By Mats Tunehag

In the 1700’s the slave trade was widely accepted and legal. It was, in fact, a backbone of the economy of the British Empire. It was a big, organized and transnational business.

William Wilberforce and the Clapham group decided to fight this evil trade. They chose to attack the systemic issue – the legality of slave trade and slavery. To that end they organized a decades long campaign focusing on justice, aiming at a root cause. They worked politically to change unjust and ungodly laws that permitted the dehumanizing trade.

They could have chosen an easier route of awareness campaigns and a boycott of sugar from plantations in Jamaica, but they knew such initiatives in themselves would not free the slaves or bring about lasting change. The feel good factor may have been higher, but the long-term outcomes would have been meager.

Charity and Justice

Today the slave trade and slavery are illegal, but not dead. Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and it is a lucrative and evil business. Just like Wilberforce and his colleagues, we need to ask what the systemic issue is today – and we need to go beyond charitable actions to fight for justice.

We visited St. Andrew Catholic Church in Clemson, South Carolina early 2016, and their vision statement struck us:

“Charity” is the generosity that alleviates needs that are immediate. “Justice” is the process by which generosity configures our ways of providing education, delivering health care, doing business, and creating laws that lessen the need for charity. There will always be immediate needs even in the most just of worlds.

Charity is the more attractive generosity. We see immediate results for the better and we enjoy – here and now – the gratification that comes from doing good. Justice is less attractive because it usually calls for personal and communal change, and we are creatures of habit.

We often respond to needs and global issues through non-profit charity models. But the danger is that some may have more of a PR function sprinkled with feel good factors, rather than dealing with systemic issues and root causes.

Wilberforce and the Clapham group were not popular; they worked against an institution – slavery – that was broadly accepted. Today, taking a position against human trafficking is among the easiest things you can do. The world will applaud you! But how can your stand free slaves and restore human dignity? Read more

Why We Need the Term Business as Mission, But Maybe Not Forever!

by Mats Tunehag

I hope very few people will talk about Business as Mission (BAM) in the future. The term is like scaffolding; it is needed for a season as we build a new paradigm and praxis: businesses that glorify God and bring about holistic transformation of people and societies.

The term BAM has its merits in clarification of the concept. The term has been helpful in the affirmation of business people and the mobilization of resources. But the term is not important – the concept and the applications are.

Many Terms, Similar Concepts

In the general business world, there are also several terms for businesses that aim at multiple bottom-lines serving multiple stakeholders. Some examples are social enterprise, creative capitalism, conscious capitalism, corporate social responsibility, and inclusive business. Different terms, but very similar concept.

Some people dislike the term BAM or question its usefulness. Other phrases are used, such as business for transformation, Kingdom companies, missional business or business as integral calling.

Even this article highlights a limitation regarding terminology: it is in English. There are about 6,000 other languages in the world.  Read more

Why Should We Care About Creation Care?

by Mats Tunehag

We know we are to be good stewards of creation. Those are God’s instructions to humans in Genesis 1 & 2 – especially Gen.1:28, often known as the ‘creation mandate’ (also ‘cultural mandate).

In the Business as Mission (BAM) movement we typically talk about the quadruple bottom line of social, spiritual, environmental and economic impact:

In and through business we want to:

  • serve people,
  • align with God’s purposes,
  • be good stewards of the planet,
  • and make a profit.

But how are we doing in the BAM community with stewardship of the planet? How are BAM companies leading the way in positive environmental change?

We know from our work in the BAM Global Network that creation care and environmental stewardship is a relatively weak area for BAM companies, and and that BAM practitioners feel under-resourced and overwhelmed by this challenge. Creation care is a topic in much need of further exploration in the BAM movement, which is why we are focusing on BAM and Creation Care again on The BAM Review this month. Read more

Staying Mission True: Business as Mission Looking Forward

by Mats Tunehag

Part 3 of a 3 part series on Business as Mission: Roots, Scope & Future. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

BHAGs: Big Hairy Audacious Goals

We have briefly reviewed the BAM concept’s historical roots, and painted a picture, albeit incomplete, of the scope and nature of the global BAM movement. Now, let’s look ahead. What are some of the challenges facing us?

Over the years and through the global conversations we’ve had, three major challenges have been identified. We call them BHAGs, these are major issues that can only be dealt with if we continue to stay on course and grow the strength of the movement. These are macro issues, which force us to think and act intergenerationally, and to intentionally build an eco-system to optimize holistic impact. They will not be achieved by one company, organization or network alone, but through collaborative effort.

Let me briefly describe them, in no particular order.

1. Align Views of Business with Biblical Principles

BAM is not a technique, but a worldview and a lifestyle. Or as BAM Global puts it: “Business as mission is not simply a method or strategy; it encompasses a worldview and business praxis based on biblical principles and the church’s teaching.”[1]

The sacred-secular divide has been an ongoing issue throughout the history of the church. But Pope John Paul II clearly states: “There cannot be two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand, the so-called “spiritual” life, with its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called “secular” life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social relationships, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture. … This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age.”[2]

Back to BAM Global’s BHAG statement:

Read more

The Present Movement: Business as Mission Today

by Mats Tunehag

Part 2 of a 3 part series on Business as Mission: Roots, Scope & Future. Read Part 1 here.

Why is There a BAM Movement?

Each generation has to review and highlight old-age concepts and truths and see how they apply to today’s context. That includes various arenas and constituencies, like business, church, and academia.

While acknowledging our roots, we also recognize the emergence of a global BAM movement in our generation. Today we can talk about a global BAM movement – we could not do that 25 years ago. Today there are tens of thousands of businesses on all continents on a BAM journey. Today there are churches and denominations embracing Business as Mission. Today most of the oldest and biggest Evangelical mission agencies in the world are pursuing BAM. Today there are many academic institutions teaching BAM and producing Master and Doctoral theses on Business as Mission. This was not the case just a few decades ago.

Thus, we may ask: why is there a global BAM movement? How did that come about? First and foremost, we recognize that God is the ultimate initiator and conductor of the movement. But allow me to also mention three essential building blocks: common language, communication and collaboration.

Without a common language you cannot communicate. If you cannot communicate you cannot collaborate, and it will lead to disconnected initiatives with limited impact.

BAM Global Think Tank

BAM Global has since 2002 focused on creating and sharing intellectual and social capital. What does that mean? An underlying principle is the belief that there is wisdom in the counsel of many. To that end we have been facilitating global listening processes, where voices from both history and today’s world could be heard, discussions were held, and documented.[1] These inclusive and participatory conversations created ownership of the concept, which continues to be discussed and shared in many languages and contexts. We have also brought people together to not only listen, share and learn, but also to connect and act. The BAM Manifesto and the Wealth Creation Manifesto are essential for establishing a common language for communication and collaboration, to create greater impact. See the BAM A – Z booklet which also expresses the common BAM language.[2]

The 2nd BAM Global Think Tank (2011 – 2013) started over 30 national, regional and international working groups, dealing with BAM in a particular country or region, or BAM related to issues like poverty, human trafficking, unreached peoples, metrics, funding and incubation. Many of these groups produced a report, but the ongoing conversations also catalyzed BAM initiatives around the world which further propelled the global movement. Today there is a growing number of BAM Global Ambassadors serving regions and issues.[3]

Read more

Deeply Rooted: Business as Mission Looking Back

by Mats Tunehag

Part 1 of a 3 part series on Business as Mission: Roots, Scope & Future

She was amazed and perplexed at the same time. She was treated with respect and dignity. She was a woman challenged with disabilities. But her life had changed. With little or no prospect of ever getting a job, she was now working in a manufacturing company. She was creative, she had made friends, and she made money.

Women in this country and religious context were treated as second-class citizens. If they had mental or physical handicaps they were often further down.

But the company she worked for employed and offered jobs with dignity to women with disabilities. It was unheard of, and it made a huge difference not only in her life, but also for the other women who worked there. It even had a transformational impact on families and the community.

This woman asked herself: why is this workplace so different? It changes lives on many levels. She knew that the founder and CEO was a follower of Jesus. So she told herself: If that’s what it means to be a follower of Jesus, I will also follow him. It was a huge and risky step for a handicapped woman in a conservative Muslim environment.

What brought her to Christ? A gospel tract? A Jesus film? A bible study? No, it was human resource management informed by biblical values, underpinned with prayer. Ultimately, it was, of course, God’s doing.

BAM: Concept, Practice, Movement

This true story from the Middle East points towards three aspects of Business as Mission, BAM, which is about serving God and people in and through business, with a Great Commission perspective. BAM is a biblical concept, which is practiced and applied by people around the world with a wide variety of backgrounds, which together form a global movement.

BAM Global has since 2002 engaged around 500 significant leaders in business, church, missions & NGOs and academia, from about 50 countries, in global conversations about the concept and the practice. This has resulted in about 30 peer produced and peer reviewed think tank reports, and two manifestos which summarize our findings [1]. The global and participatory nature of the think tank processes have created an unprecedented spread and ownership of the BAM concept.[2]

Read more

Transforming Views of Business in the Church Worldwide

by Jo Plummer & Mats Tunehag

This post is the third in a series of three that share the BAM Global Big Hairy Audacious Goals – our ‘BHAGs’ for the global business as mission movement.

BAM Global is one of the founding partners of this website and aims to be a catalyst for connection and communication across the BAM community. These goals are not ones we expect to accomplish by ourselves, instead they drive our mission to invigorate the BAM movement – to strengthen and enrich this community so that the hundreds and thousands of companies, networks, agencies, churches, institutions, etc. in the movement see these BHAGs realised together.

The BHAG: Transform views on business in the church worldwide

Business as mission is not simply a method or strategy; it encompasses a worldview and business praxis based on biblical principles and the church’s teaching. The sacred-secular divide is still permeating the church. What is considered ‘sacred’ (worship, faith, church activities, etc.) is often judged to be more valuable that the ‘secular’ (work, business, material goods, etc.) The clergy (pastor, missionary, etc.) are considered to have a higher calling than the laity (teacher, business professional, lawyer, etc.). This is still a dominating paradigm among many Christians around the globe.

As a consequence, business people and professionals in the church do not fully understand that their gifts, skills and experience are vital to God’s kingdom work on earth. Many feel that the most ‘spiritual’ thing they can do is to give financially to those doing the ‘real ministry’, and, if they really want to serve God, they should leave their company behind and become a missionary or pastor. While generosity and a true calling to church leadership is to be commended, this narrow view of the value of business ultimately hinders the mission of the church.  Read more

Reaching a Tipping Point for Macro Impact Through BAM Businesses

by Jo Plummer & Mats Tunehag

This post is the second in a series of three that share the BAM Global Big Hairy Audacious Goals – our ‘BHAGs’ for the global business as mission movement.

BAM Global aims to be a catalyst for connection and communication across the BAM community. These goals are not ones we expect to accomplish by ourselves, instead they drive our mission to invigorate the BAM movement – to strengthen and enrich this community so that the hundreds and thousands of companies, networks, agencies, churches, institutions, etc. in the movement see these BHAGs realised together.

The BHAG: Reach a tipping point for macro impact through BAM businesses

The global BAM movement has grown rapidly in the last 20-plus years. There are now thousands of BAM businesses, and countless BAM-related initiatives in businesses, churches, missions and academia. As a growing number of business people follow Jesus in the marketplace and shape their businesses for God’s glory and the common good, they will have a positive impact on the financial, social, environmental and spiritual well-being of people and societies.

Through the BAM Think Tank processes we have documented significant holistic transformation taking place through companies, affecting many stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, neighbours, officials, etc. – and on many levels. The BAM ecosystem is now large, varied and global, and has the hallmarks of a true movement. This is a positive growth and a strength.  Read more