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BAM Out of Brokenness: An Easter Reflection

Today is Good Friday*. A day absolutely central to the gospel story and to our lived experience as followers of Jesus.

One of our scripture readings in our monthly BAM Prayer Call this week was of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53:

Surely he took up our pain

    and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

    stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.

 

This is the picture that we have of Jesus on Good Friday – our wounded healer.

 

And we are reminded that as followers of Jesus, we too are called to be wounded healers in a broken world.

As we contemplate Christ dead on the Cross, our thoughts turn to the countless injustices and sufferings which prolong his passion in every part of the world. I think of the places where man is insulted and humiliated, downtrodden and exploited. In every person suffering from hatred and violence, or rejected by selfishness and indifference, Christ continues to suffer and die. On the faces of those who have been “defeated by life” there appear the features of the face of Christ dying on the Cross. Ave, Crux, spes unica! Today too, from the Cross there springs hope for all.Pope John Paul II, Good Friday, 10 April 1998.

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

In just a few short weeks we will be gathering together at our BAM Global Summit, an online connecting point for the global business as mission community.

Doing BAM out of a place of brokenness and weakness, with a posture of humility and dependency on the Lord, has been a theme that the Lord has highlighted to us.  Read more

Pray More and Pray More Intentionally

by Dave Kahle

 

How do I Integrate my Christian faith with day-to-day business practices?

This is a question almost every Christian professional and businessperson considers regularly. The answer isn’t simple, and it varies from time to time and place to place.

The Christian life is a journey and we focus one step at a time. It’s like walking through a forest at night, with just a small flashlight to light your way. You can’t see more than a few feet ahead, and the light illuminates only the next few steps.

That analogy provides us a perspective on the question. The answer to the question today may be different than it will be just a bit down the road. Because our circumstances vary, the opportunities and relationships that we have today will be different than what we encounter further down the path. What’s important is that you keep asking the question. Today’s answer is just today’s answer, and not necessarily a lifetime prescription.

Having said that, there is a body of knowledge about some principles and practices that extend beyond the specific details of our current situation. These are principles and practices that apply regardless of the circumstances.

In this post, we’re going to drill deeper into one such principle: Pray more and pray more intentionally. In other words, intentionally add depth and breadth to your prayer practices.

First, let’s establish some Biblical principles upon which this practice is based:

1. We are commanded to pray for everything

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  

Does “everything” include our careers and businesses and the multitude of decisions we must make, the relationships which occupy us, and the never-ending list of tasks to be accomplished? Of course. “Everything” means just that.

There is a horribly debilitating idea that is, unfortunately, quite commonly held; that God doesn’t want us to pray for our careers and businesses. This mistaken mindset reserves our prayers for our families and sanctioned “church work.” It is okay to pray for a missionary your church supports, for example, but a bit gauche to pray for that big sale on which you are working. You can pray that you find a new youth pastor, but not that you find a new administrative assistant.

Those ideas must be some of Satan’s greatest lies. By getting Christian businesspeople to believe them, he has successfully removed a major sphere of activity from being God-influenced. He must congratulate himself every time he sees someone who could be praying about a business issue and doesn’t. Read more

Prayer is Central to BAM: We are the Branches!

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. – John 15: 5-8

It doesn’t get much straightforward than John 15 does it?

Abiding = fruitfulness / Not abiding = withering

It’s hard to admit it sometimes, but we are the branches. Jesus is the vine. We are not going to be fruitful without that connection, that relationship, that remaining in Him.

Prayer is both a place of abiding, and also a promised fruit of that relationship. We connect with the true vine in the place of prayer, but Jesus also says that answered prayer is an outcome of abiding:

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15: 7 (emphasis mine)

BAM CEO and mentor Peter Shaukat writes, “In establishing an authentic, impactful BAM enterprise, we are establishing a point of light – a city on a hill, if you like – in a spiritually darkened place. We are working with BAM companies that are both viable commercial entities, and intentionally missional and transformational. Where transformation is needed or is a goal of the company, that cannot be achieved without the gifts of the Spirit. We can do nothing apart from Him.”

A BAM practitioner of 16 years shares the following truth, “Sometimes we have tough business decisions to make or difficult situations – and that is where having clear purpose and values, along with specific goals is helpful. Plus it’s good to have things like operational policies and contracts and so on. All of these things are good and essential practice, sort of ‘Business 101’. However, lives being transformed is what we want people to see. This is ‘Fruits of the Spirit 101’, without which the Kingdom culture will never shine through. Can we show the Kingdom in the tough times every day in business? What shows up when the heat is on? I do want to be known as a good business man, however I want to be known more as a businessman who has been transformed by God from the inside.”

Transformation is what we long to see in the people and nations around us. But transformation must surely begin with us, and from a place of prayer. For God first reconciled us to himself through Christ, and then entrusted to us the message of reconciliation as His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5: 18-20). He is transforming us, making us His new creation, and that comes from His Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18, 5:17) 

Read more

Helping BAM Practitioners Start Well and Endure for the Long-Term

by Jo Plummer

Recently I received a question about training resources and spiritual courses from a BAM practitioner who reads our blog. There already are lots of great resources on this site and elsewhere for helping BAMers start well and endure for the long-term. This post is designed to introduce some resources that BAM practitioners may find helpful for both preparing to launch into BAM and enduring long.

However, having asked advice from a few other business as mission leaders, we identified that there are relatively few dedicated, BAM-related resources for what the mission community calls ‘member care – that is helping ensure the personal, physical, relational and spiritual well-being of BAM practitioners. There are, however, many general member care and spiritual life resources that we can glean from in the wider Christian community, and a selection of these are also listed below.

Please get in touch if you would be interested in being part of a future task force on the specific topic of ‘Member Care for BAM Practitioners’.

Training & Preparation: Launching Well

How do people get from BAM vision to BAM reality? What training resources are there out there for BAM practitioners? What factors help launch BAMers out into stable, successful business as mission enterprises? What are the skills and characteristics that BAM companies are looking for as they recruit? How do potential BAMers best develop themselves and prepare for doing business as mission?

Here are some places to start:

  • Courses & Training Page – BAM Resource Library
    Looking for some BAM-related training? Start with the Courses & Training page in the Resource Library here on the BAM website for a list of training organisations and course providers related to BAM. Follow that up by browsing the Video & Audio Page which links to many Podcasts and Video Series which have great content and are all totally free to access. (And of course we have great Books and Papers listed too, as well as over 550 Blogs to read – see Blog Categories listed on this page!)

Read more

A Business as Mission Crisis: How Can We Pray?

by Larry Sharp

During these days of uncertainty due to the worldwide coronavirus, business startups are hurting, and many of them will fail due to the outbreak of COVID-19. This is particularly true of BAM startup businesses, which are affected in many ways.

Just today as I write this, I received an appeal from a Freedom Business in India to encourage others to buy their product on-line.  I also received a note from a person who works as an HR-disciple making person in a business in Cambodia. She is losing her visa and needs to return to the USA within 30-days due to new regulations connected to the virus.

Here are some ways to PRAY based on what we know right now:

1. For wisdom for business owners who have very little margin or capacity for downsizing and will ultimately need to make hard decisions.

2. For the poor who desperately need the jobs that BAM companies are providing, and now face job loss.

3. For innovative means of providing capital. Some of the ways may include increased donations or short-term low-interest loans to BAM businesses.

4. For God’s people in the west who have expertise and can provide a helpline; that they will make themselves available and know where their help can be best applied.

5. For innovators and inventors to have their creative juices unleashed to develop solutions which will help BAM businesses in this difficult time.

6. For leaders connected to many BAM/B4t businesses who are right now considering options for how to help – RN, PL, CS, MT, JP, RB and others.

7. That all believers will respond toward the most vulnerable in ways similar to how Christians responded in other pandemics. Check out this link.

 

Mats Tunehag has also adapted St. Patrick’s prayer to use during this time, either as a BAM company leader or to pray for others in the BAM community.

Read more

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.

Read more

How We Built Consistent, Committed Prayer into our Company

A classic from our ‘Ask a BAM Mentor‘ Archive

 

Dear BAM Mentor,

What prayer habits have you found helpful in your business? How have you experienced prayer and hearing direction from the Lord fitting alongside ‘normal’ business practices and hearing from advisors and others?

~ Exploring Prayer

Dear Exploring,

Whatever we attempt for God has to be in accordance with His will and be blessed by Him if we are to see genuine success (in the heavenly definition of success). This is true for every venture, whether operated under the auspices of a local church, a Christian organisation or an overtly commercial business venture. In fact, because of the pressures and expectations that the world brings to bear on business ventures, it is all the more important to ensure close communion and communication with God. Whatever this may mean in practical terms, it has to include prayer.

The most obvious biblical instruction about how we should pray is Jesus’ introduction to His model prayer – that which most people refer to as the Lord’s Prayer – as recorded in Matthew 6. What these instructions boil down to is: keep it sincere, keep it personal (you and God) and keep it short and to the point. How this operates in practice will vary according to local circumstances. Our own experience was developed over a short time but then served the business well for many years – but not without some hiccups along the way, it may be added. Read more

What is Success? Advancing Spiritual Impact in BAM: Best of BAM Blog

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with great content and resources. Each year we do a summer roundup of articles which have stood out in the past 6 months.

Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Tom

It is easy to be confused by how success in business as mission (BAM) is defined today from a spiritual perspective.

Once-upon-a-time the core concept of BAM was to have a spiritual impact. The reality that a business needed to be profitable should also have been a given, after all, a business that does not make money can’t survive or, as we say in BAM, cannot be sustainable. Even with this relative simplicity, being able to measure spiritual impact seemed elusive.

Early definitions struggled between Business AS Mission and Business FOR Mission both of which held that a central purpose was spiritual transformation. Early theological debates centered around the secular-sacred divide, could business even be spiritual? There were common perceptions of money and profit, often portrayed as evil and exploitive among Christians, that needed to be overcome. Business AS Mission assumed that when operations aligned with spiritual values, businesses could and would produce spiritual results when driven by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Business FOR Mission simply used the profits of a business to support traditional missional activity.

Today the definition of BAM has expanded to include an emphasis on poverty alleviation and job creation etc., issues that are also popular in the secular social enterprise world. However, one danger we face is that while we are expanding, we might also lose what makes us distinctive, appearing to put less and less emphasis on spirituality or spiritual impact. Yet, without intentional spiritual impact BAM is not any different than any well-meaning secular program.

Twenty years on from the early days of the business as mission movement, we continue to wrestle with this topic of spiritual impact in BAM!  Read more

What is Success? Advancing Spiritual Impact in BAM

by Tom

It is easy to be confused by how success in business as mission (BAM) is defined today from a spiritual perspective.

Once-upon-a-time the core concept of BAM was to have a spiritual impact. The reality that a business needed to be profitable should also have been a given, after all, a business that does not make money can’t survive or, as we say in BAM, cannot be sustainable. Even with this relative simplicity, being able to measure spiritual impact seemed elusive.

Early definitions struggled between Business AS Mission and Business FOR Mission both of which held that a central purpose was spiritual transformation. Early theological debates centered around the secular-sacred divide, could business even be spiritual? There were common perceptions of money and profit, often portrayed as evil and exploitive among Christians, that needed to be overcome. Business AS Mission assumed that when operations aligned with spiritual values, businesses could and would produce spiritual results when driven by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Business FOR Mission simply used the profits of a business to support traditional missional activity.

Today the definition of BAM has expanded to include an emphasis on poverty alleviation and job creation etc., issues that are also popular in the secular social enterprise world. However, one danger we face is that while we are expanding, we might also lose what makes us distinctive, appearing to put less and less emphasis on spirituality or spiritual impact. Yet, without intentional spiritual impact BAM is not any different than any well-meaning secular program.

Twenty years on from the early days of the business as mission movement, we continue to wrestle with this topic of spiritual impact in BAM!  Read more

Workplace Relationships: Community Interaction

by Michael Thiessen

I’m willing to bet that if you own a business, it’s not a huge mega-corporation with billions – or even millions – in revenue. You probably own a fairly small business (or might work for one). Most people would probably guess that a large share of businesses have fewer than 20 employees, but did you know that the number is 90%?

When you run a small business, your community is vital to your success. Your customers, suppliers, employees, and even your competitors, are all part of your community. The first church in Acts had a strong sense of community, which we emulate to this day in our own churches. When others need help, we provide it, whether it is financial, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise.

Communities are part of what makes us strong. But our community doesn’t stop at the doors of the church that we attend on Sunday mornings. How can we be good stewards of the business God has given to us, using it as a platform to build strong relationships with our community?

Professional Peers

We can give employees time off to volunteer, we can give discounted services to churches and other non-profits, or we can use the equipment or expertise from our business to help others in the community. I could probably list off a few dozen more, and I’m guessing you could too. Instead of spending time on those fairly obvious avenues, let’s focus instead on how we can connect with others in our industry.  Read more