Posts

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

 

 

9 Keys for Successful BAM Deployment

As we count down to the BAM Global Congress in April 2020, we revisit some of the key issues that we want to address when we gather together. These 9 keys are all themes, workshops and practical steps that we are intentionally focusing on at the Congress 2020 and we invite you to join us!

Here are 9 Keys for Successful BAM Deployment that have been themes shared over and over by experienced BAM practitioners and mentors. These are principles and practices observed over years of listening to BAM pioneers, writing BAM stories and collecting information about how to do BAM. Many of these Keys have been shared by BAMers and BAM leaders over the last few weeks as we have explored the topic ‘Launching Out and Landing Well’ – they come out in the stories, snippets, and teaching we’ve shared, as well as in the BAM Think Tank research we’ve been drawing on.

1. Walk with God

Abide in Christ. It’s essential to be connected to the Vine, a growing disciple of Jesus, if we are to bear fruit! That means spending time listening and talking to God in prayer and being attentive to His calling and direction for your life. It means growing in Godly character as you are rooted in His word, and opening up to spiritual input from others. Prayer is mentioned over and over by BAMers as a foundation stone for BAM in practice, at all stages: preparation, launch and continued growth. Having a sense of call and leading from God is another often cited core driver for BAMers. Spiritual formation through discipleship and teaching is a life-long pursuit – whether through books, sermons, devotional materials, courses, retreats or intentional relationships. Making yourself accountable to peers or elders that will challenge you to grow in Christ-like character is another way to keep soft and open to the refining work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Read more

10 Things That Will Help or Hinder BAM Multiplication

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

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

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

1. God is at work

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

The Vital Place of Mission Agencies in the BAM Movement

by Jo Plummer

Mission Agencies have long been a crucial player and partner in the contemporary BAM movement.

Many early pioneer BAM practitioners of the 80s, 90s and early 2000s either came from a missionary background or were members of a mission agency. These agency workers- turned-BAMers were at the forefront of the early wave of BAM companies because they were already at the front lines. Sent out with a call and vision to see people and communities transformed by the gospel, they discovered that business could be a powerful means of integral mission – meeting spiritual, social and economic needs in communities.

Looking back on 20 years and more of recent BAM history, we see that companies with missional goals embedded within their business model, business culture, company values, working relationships and so on, have often proved to be the most fruitful way for agency workers to pursue their work. But it has not always been easy.

Business failure – already a high possibility for seasoned entrepreneurs in home cultures – became a common experience for missionary-run startups with the additional hazard of being in environments often hostile to both mission and business. Many missionaries are by nature pioneering and somewhat entrepreneurial, however most early agency-related BAMers lacked the know-how and practical business experience they needed to create sustainable, scalable companies. Early BAM companies had few models to follow and lessons were learned the hard way.

Those hard-won fruitful practices are now being passed on, benefiting the current generation of BAM practitioners. They are able to stand on the shoulders of a host of early BAMers (from both business and mission backgrounds) because those pioneers heard the Lord and were willing to go, they were willing to innovate, risk and persevere. In turn, these early BAM pioneers stood on the shoulders of many generations of traditional missionaries that passed on their own hard-won lessons.

Beyond ‘Business as Visa’

Necessity is the mother of invention. In some parts of the world, starting a business has long been the only viable means to establish a settled, credible role in a community. William Carey, right back in the late 1700s, took a management position in an indigo factory when he first arrived in India because missionary visas were hard to come by in the days of the East India Company. And like William Carey*, modern day mission workers soon discovered that the power of a business model extends far beyond a means to getting a visa. (Read more on how it extends here).

Thankfully most agency workers who are getting into business now have many more resources to draw on. They understand that to have a credible, sustainable role in a community, their company has to be credible and sustainable. That means aiming towards excellence in business practice and the true integration of holistic missional goals into every aspect of a company – from business plan, to daily business life.  Read more

Discipling Marketplace Leaders: The Power of Church and BAM Partnerships

by Renita Reed-Thomson & Dr. Phil Walker

A Kenyan pastor approached us following our workshop and said, “Church begins on Monday. Sunday is ‘garage/maintenance time’ to prepare for that.” The lightbulb had gone on. It is the lightbulb that reminds pastors and church leaders that the Church gathers on Sunday for the purpose of being equipped to be scattered on Monday, shining the light of Christ everywhere they go. Unfortunately, the Global Church tends to be inward focused, defining itself as a building or by programs, rather than the people. While the majority of adult members in our churches spend the majority of their time in their workplace, we do not disciple them to the purpose of doing their work as an act of worship. Discipling Marketplace Leaders is seeking to remedy this as it brings the work of Business as Mission into the Church.

Finding Common Ground

In 2012 Dr. Phil Walker (President and co-founder of International Christian Ministries) was conducting a leadership seminar in Accra, Ghana. Renita Reed-Thomson (Regional Director for a BAM ministry) was attending the seminar with her team. At the break, she began sharing with Phil about the challenges of the BAM movement. While successful in helping Christian business owners grow in their ability to operate successful businesses, she was concerned about their spiritual journey (Deuteronomy 8:18). It was easy to see financial growth, but hard to know if they were growing in their walk with the Lord. Phil discussed his frustration with the local church and its inability to substantially impact the community by empowering members to be light and leaven in the community. Phil invited Renita to Kitale, Kenya, to teach a course on Church-based Business as Mission at ICM’s Africa Theological Seminary.

Over the initial months of teaching pastors, Renita saw a dramatic change in their perspective regarding business and work. Teaching business as a calling, supported theologically, pastors shifted from business as a “necessary evil,” to business as calling, contributing to fulfilling the Great Commitment of Genesis 1:28. Renita shared with other BAM practitioners about integrating BAM formally with the church. They said BAM and the local church could not find common ground for working together. Some stated that the church is “too difficult” to work with and therefore should be side-stepped. Renita decided on a research project to test whether the faith and work movement was possible within the local church. From 2013-2015, Renita conducted an 18-month research study, in three cities with six churches and 260 businesses.  Read more

People, People, People! Human Capital Flow for BAM Companies

by Peter Shaukat

Editors Note: When we asked veteran BAM leaders to identify some of the pressing issues that are facing the business as mission movement in the next decade, among the issues they identified were several areas that could broadly be categorized as ‘resource gaps for BAM companies’, including:

1. Adequate financial capital flow.

2. Adequate human capital flow – both in terms of a) recruiting the right kind of people to begin and sustain a BAM company, and b) succession planning and the successful transition of a BAM company from one generation of owners to another.

3. Adequate support for BAM practitioners, especially mentoring, accountability and care.

We will be posting articles covering each of these issues during the month of June, continuing with the challenge of human capital flow.

Human Capital Flow for BAM Companies

To some ears, the term “human capital”, especially when applied to the BAM movement, might sound strange, secular, and mercenary – even exploitative.

According to the OECD, human capital is defined as: “the knowledge, skills, competencies and other attributes embodied in individuals or groups of individuals acquired during their life and used to produce goods, services or ideas in market circumstances”.

There is, therefore, nothing at all shameful in this use of the term. Indeed, if the BAM movement is predicated on the assumption that God’s pleasure is to create good things for the benefit of all, and that the marketplace is part of the divine design for how society is intended to function, then we should rejoice in being a part of that process and outcome. This doesn’t mean we are ciphers or cogs in some impersonal machine, for this would entirely negate the splendid truth that we are persons, made in the image of our Father in Heaven.  Read more

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

Transforming the Church, One Engaged Business Person at a Time

by Larry Sharp

Over the years I have had various business owners and executives travel with me as I’ve coached and supported companies around the world. On one particular trip, the VP of a Fortune 500 company came with me and some others to a former Soviet Republic country. He had gone on many mission trips, built churches, passed out tracts, and tutored English – all good things! But in Kazakhstan he helped Kazakh believers and expats with business mentoring on topics like making financial projections, contract law, and international marketing. On the trip home he told me that he finally saw how his skills can be used to build the kingdom of God. “Where are we going next?” he asked, after a short time of reflection at home.

I have had many experiences like this, witnessing firsthand the moment business people have felt affirmed and become engaged in using their skills and experience in business as mission. They go from seeing their contribution as limited to PRAY or PAY, and start to realise they can be actively involved – i.e. PLAY! And there are multiple ways for people to get engaged.

For the first time she saw that her business ability and position was a God-given asset.

A young fellow about 30 years old heard me speak in a large mega-church in Pennsylvania. He asked to meet with me and said, “All this is new to me and I don’t think my wife will want to move outside the state, what can I do?” After finding out he was the owner of an SEO company with 14 employees, I said absolutely – and you don’t even have to leave your computer. He has been a wonderful contributor to business startups in unreached areas of the world.

On another occasion, I spoke in a church in the Philadelphia area one Sunday morning. The pastor seemed open to all I spoke about that morning but the real encouragement was talking to several business people afterwards. One woman was a chemical engineer, a former Proctor and Gamble manager who supervised the development of Pampers. She joined our team and helped us with our “product development” when we were just getting going as a BAM consulting group.  Read more

The Spirituality of Professional Skills and Business

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. As we start the new year, we are highlighting articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is the “Most Popular Post” for July to December 2018.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Peter Shaukat

This short and surely inadequate article on the place of professional and business skills in spirituality and mission is essentially a plea for Christ-followers to demonstrate and proclaim a wholistic gospel and to pursue authentic whole-life discipleship. In many respects, it reflects one element of my own pilgrimage in mission, which might be described as a long pursuit of an answer to the question: “How do we integrate our Christian faith with our vocational talents and training in a life committed to the global mission enterprise of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?”

My journey thus far is still for me most memorably crystallized when, as a young engineer-in-training experiencing the breakout of Jesus in my personal world, I approached a mission agency leader with the question: “What should I do to serve Christ globally?” The answer I received then was to go to seminary for four years and then come back and see him. His answer may just possibly (but probably quite remotely) have had to do with his perception that perhaps I had certain “ministry gifts” needing development. However, with the passage of more than four decades since that conversation, I am inclined to believe that it had more to do with a pervasive, dichotomous, sacred-secular worldview rooted in Greek Platonic (and Buddhist/Hindu) thought than with the biblical, integrated notions of shalom, holiness, and service. Since then, by God’s grace, through observing the modeling of Christ’s virtues in the lives of hundreds of fellow-travelers, imbibing five decades of studying Scripture on a personal devotional level, embracing divinely appointed circumstances, and following personally chosen pathways on five continents, some progress in answering that question first posed in the 1970s is slowly being made.  Read more

Four Essentials of a Working Spirituality

by Peter Shaukat

Having hazarded a comment on the global and ecclesiastical context of our time and offered a rough and ready theology of work, I’d like to outline few suggested essentials of a working spirituality with a missional worldview for the professional or business person.

Embrace the Incarnation of Christ

The first essential is to embrace the incarnation of Christ. Specifically, devotionally, prayerfully to remember and internalize the fact that Jesus walks the Holy Land of your country, your marketplace, your professional sphere through you. You are his hands and feet. You are his mind and word. You are a channel of his redemption and restoration. His promise that we would do greater works than he did in Palestine is surely supported by his promise to be with us and evidenced by the work and witness of practicing Christians in every profession, especially in places where it’s still highly unlikely that the majority have ever seen a Christian engineer, teacher, or businessman.  Read more

Portfolio Items