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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

The Academic Engine: Academic and BAM Practitioner Collaboration

by Mick Bates, D. Mgt

Jim Collins, the late Peter Drucker and Michael Porter are near household names in the business world. What do they have in common? They are academics who have impacted the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations around the world. Yes, their work also influences BAM organizations, but what if there was a cadre of academics who focused on helping BAM companies be all they can be in transforming economies, being social change agents, bringing the gospel to a world in need and helping the planet?

Academics interested in BAM are out there, but the challenge at hand is to bring them together in a way that creates critical mass. You might say this sounds good, by why does it matter?

How Academics Add Value to BAM

Academics, just as those mentioned above, are uniquely positioned to add value to the BAM movement, specifically in the areas of research, practitioner support and student engagement. Their ability to apply disciplined research techniques to BAM problems gives reliable and valid data that goes beyond the “gut-feel” of the BAM practitioners to what is really happening in the BAM space. The broad perspectives and experiences of the BAM academic can bring effective training, best practices and education to BAMers and their constituencies thereby providing an immediate boost to business productivity and evangelism effectiveness. BAM academics, by virtue of their classrooms, are also principal seed-planters for the next generation of possible BAMers. It is the academic who generally drives the engagement of students with the concept of BAM, practitioners in the field, and doors to experiences with people groups around the world. The academic with an orientation toward BAM, can be a focal point for real-time added value. An academic network with collaborative partnerships with BAM practitioners can be a driver, an “engine,” if you like, for future impact.

Barriers to Entry

You might say this sounds great, but why have we not seen more academics involved in BAM? The challenge with any start-up or movement is often overcoming the barriers to entry. For the academic with a heart toward BAM, this is particularly relevant. For instance, the faith element of BAM causes friction for the business academic who has responsibilities to publish in their area of discipline. There are very few publishing outlets for business academics that recognize the role of faith in business success. Consequently, researching and writing about BAM may create limitations in the academic’s ability to be published. If the BAM movement wants more legitimate research, it must help in creating publishing opportunities for academics.

A somewhat related barrier is that much of the BAM activity is in areas of the world where security is a concern. This inhibits communication, the willingness of people to offer specific information, and the danger of publishing stories. This is becoming a bigger issue as social media makes it easier to “out” people doing BAM work.

Finally, the individualistic nature of the academic pulls against the need to come together, share and collaborate. These barriers seem formidable, but they also create opportunities.

Opportunities at Hand

Opportunity for the BAM movement and interested academics is encapsulated with the posture that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. God inspires and empowers individuals, but it is relationship in community that brings change. Getting BAM practitioners, academics and others working together is the opportunity at hand. This can occur in joint research and other collaboration activities, for example, engaging students in cross-institutional projects or trips, or faculty working together in consulting engagements to maximize value for the BAM practitioner. For instance, how cool would it be to have students and faculty from different institutions working together on a research or consulting project? Then, the faculty members could present their results together at a BAM conference or other academic forum. The BAM practitioner, students and academics achieve wins all around.

There are pockets of these types of academic collaborations occurring in isolated instances, but how can we catalyze these into beneficial community experiences? One way is to become involved in the BAM Academics network.

Invitation to Connect

BAM Academics is a group of higher education professionals dedicated to the promotion and support of the Business as Mission movement. The group accomplishes this in their daily activities in colleges and universities around the world with special emphasis on BAM-oriented research agendas and BAM practitioner support. The goal of the group is to foster closer ties between academics, to generate momentum in areas of common interest, and ultimately, to bring value to the global BAM movement.

Additionally, the Academics Track at the annual BAM Conference USA and the upcoming BAM Global Congress 2020 are an excellent way to meet, engage and collaborate. Not only do participants receive valuable information and new ideas, the relationships formed here often lead to unexpected scholarly, student engagement and consulting opportunities.

I invite BAM practitioners and others to connect with academics to share needs, hopes and desires as they relate to productivity, employment/internships and empowering the movement. You can start the conversation via email to academics@bamglobal.org where you will be connected with potential resources.

Request for Proposals

The BAM Global Congress will be held in Jomtien, Thailand from 29 April to 3 May 2020. It is anticipated there will be over 1,000 people from all over the world in attendance.

As part of Academics Track for the Congress, the BAM Academics network is soliciting proposals for presenting papers, briefings on academic work in support of BAM, or relevant discussion panels. Each session of 20-30 minutes will bring valuable information to academics, practitioners and supporters of BAM. To make a proposal for consideration, please follow this link, BAM Global Congress Proposal Submission, and enter the requested information no later than 31 December 2019. Offers to present will be made no later than 30 January 2020.

As you consider about how you might contribute to the BAM Academics track, I encourage you to think in terms of Boyer’s Scholarship Model that addresses the scholarship of Discovery, Integration, Application, and Teaching and Learning. This model provides more flexibility and value points for academics to contribute to BAM in a variety of ways. Regardless, if you have engaged with BAM in an “academic” way, please submit a proposal. We all learn from each other.

Whether you present or not, I encourage you to consider attending this important global conference. I guarantee you will come away with some new ideas, new friends and inspired. Finally, please do not hesitate to forward this information to likeminded people in academia and do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of service in any way.

Finally, the late Peter Drucker once posited that management was a liberal art, “’liberal’ because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom and leadership: ‘art’ because it is also concerned with practice and application” (Drucker, 2001, p. 13). I believe we can extrapolate these thoughts to a similar recognition of BAM and its quadruple bottom-line by academia. I hope to see you at the BAM Global Congress in 2020.

 

Drucker, P. (2001). The essential Drucker. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

 


Dr. Mick Bates
has developed a passion for imbuing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in others. He has spent the last 16 years in higher education, primarily as the Founding Program Chair and Associate Professor for Business Administration at Life Pacific College, and currently Associate Professor of Marketing at Taylor University. Prior to that, Mick spent 20 years in business in call center technology start-ups.

 

 

This month on The BAM Review blog, we are focusing on the four major constituencies within the BAM community: BusinessAcademia, Church and Agencies.

Read other post in series >>
Four Constituencies in the BAM Movement: Business and Beyond
Discipling Marketplace Leaders: The Power of Church and BAM Partnerships
The Vital Place of Mission Agencies in the BAM Movement

 

Have your say on social media on this topic by following us on Twitter or Facebook.

Join us at the BAM Global Congress, the ‘one stop shop’ for the global business as mission movement. The Congress is open to everyone interested and only happens every seven years, so don’t miss this chance to connect with BAM leaders from every continent! Find out more information about the Congress here.

 

 

The BAM Global Congress in April next year will reflect the four major constituencies of BAM, including:

  • An Academic Track
  • A Church Track
  • An Agency Track

Plus, Business topics and sub-tracks of all kinds:

  • BAM stories and cases
  • BAM planning and start-up
  • BAM operations
  • BAM incubation and investment
  • Practical integration of business and missional objectives
  • Industry-specific Roundtables
  • The application of BAM to tackling human trafficking and poverty
  • The application of BAM to taking the gospel to the unreached
  • And many more.

 

 

 

Turn Off the Lights to Share the Light: Why Good Environmental Practice is Great Business Practice

by Mark Polet

There is a misconception that good environmental management always costs money. Well, sometimes it does seem to cost when externalities are not costed fully (waste management, air and water pollution control) or when the company is not managed properly (contamination). 

Turn Off the Lights so You can Share the Light

However, there is another area of sound business management where good environmental management saves money. It’s called efficiency.

In short, turn off the lights.

It is easy for all of us to fall into complacency or just get too busy to really manage our costs, especially in the challenging places where you work. That is why we are looking for quick wins. The first quick win my colleagues and I have noted in working for Kingdom Companies is energy efficiency.

Turn off the lights when you leave! I find it remarkable how many times energy is wasted in companies, even where energy availability is inconsistent. We have seen whole factories lit up with not a soul in them.

Manage your air conditioning.  25°C (77°F) is often recommended, no cooler. If  you have your suit jacket on while you work at your desk, something may be wrong.

BAM is in the relationship business, and enrolling staff in Creation Care is one more step in discipleship.

Watch for phantom power costs. Turn off appliances when not in use. 

Many electronic appliances (i.e. monitor screens) are still drawing power even when ‘off’. If at all possible, shut off at the main plug.

Read more

Messy Site, Messy Company: Aiming for Environmental Excellence

by Mark Polet

When it comes to running a good business, cleanliness really is next to godliness.

I want to explore with you why you who are pursuing excellence in business need to weave good environmental practice into your operations.

Messy Site, Messy Company

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company. Because poor environmental practice is often quite visible in a disorderly site and disorganized operations, it is often the most evident warning bell to any investor or customer that something is wrong with this firm.

Why do I stay that? After over forty years of assessing companies for environmental excellence, including Kingdom-Oriented firms, there is one correlation in my experience that always holds.

If the site is a mess, the accounting is a mess.

Good environmental practice is not a stand alone activity. Good environmental practice is woven into all aspects of the company.

A messy site means messed up books. I have reviewed firms across a score of industry groups. At times I will come across a  company that has an unkempt site. Sometimes it is debris lying around; other times it is  far worse, with spills contaminating the soil. In all cases, I find as I continue my audit that their financial records are equally messy, and their regulatory compliance is spotty at best. The management of their supply chain was poor. The amount of waste they generate, both in lost productivity and actual, physical waste, is evident.  Read more

Business as Mission and the Global Workplace: Part 2

by Jo Plummer

First published as an Advance Paper for the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum.

Bottom-line thinking

It is becoming more common for companies to plan for positive impact on ‘multiple bottom lines’. Rather than only measuring success as a positive number on the profit and loss statement—ie, the ‘financial bottom line’—businesses around the world are beginning to look for positive impact on social, environmental, and financial bottom lines. Social enterprises now aim to have a positive impact on multiple stakeholders—their employees, suppliers, the community, their customers, etc.—rather than focusing solely on returning financial rewards to shareholders. This ‘cutting-edge thinking’ is rediscovering God’s original design for business.

A business as mission (BAM) company is simply one that embraces all of this thinking about multiple bottom lines and multiple stakeholders. Crucially, it holds that God is the most important Stakeholder in the business, and that the purposes of the company should align with his purposes. Thus, a BAM company is one that thinks about how the whole strategy for the business—and the business model itself—can intentionally integrate mission.

BAM company owners start their businesses for a wide variety of reasons, including: to fight the evils of human trafficking, accelerate the task of reaching the remaining unreached peoples with the gospel, and tackle the problems of social injustice, environmental degradation, and dire poverty, to name a few. Annie started her business in Asia to provide alternative employment for exploited women, Anne started hers in Northern Europe to create jobs and connect with disaffected youth, and Mary started hers in the Middle East to more effectively share the gospel in one of the least-reached nations on earth.

The world is open for business

God has mandated humankind to be good stewards of Creation, to create resources for the good of society, to love God first and then love our neighbor, and to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Thus, a business as mission company includes spiritual transformation as a measure of business success, alongside social, environmental, and economic concerns—and has a special concern for the poor, marginalized, and unreached peoples. Business as Mission is:

  • Profitable and sustainable businesses;
  • Intentional about kingdom of God purpose and impact on people and nations;
  • Focused on holistic transformation and the multiple bottom lines of economic, social, environmental, and spiritual outcomes;
  • Concerned about the world’s poorest and least-evangelized peoples. 

Read more

Business as Mission and the Global Workplace: Part 1

by Jo Plummer

First published as an Advance Paper for the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum.

Introduction

Dallas Willard once said that, ‘Business is a primary moving force of the love of God in human history.’[1] Business, done well, is glorifying to God and has enormous potential to do good. Business has an innate God-given power to create dignified jobs, to multiply resources, to provide for families and communities and to push forward innovation and development in human society.

In the global marketplace today, we have an enormous opportunity to leverage this God-given potential of business to address some of the world’s most pressing spiritual, social, environmental, and economic issues. This is ‘business as mission’—a movement of business professionals using the gifts of entrepreneurship and good management to bring creative and long-term, sustainable solutions to global challenges. This movement of business people is growing worldwide; they are serving God in the marketplace and intentionally shaping their businesses for God’s glory, the gospel, and the common good. Business professionals are using their skills to serve people, make a profit, be good stewards of the planet, and align with God’s purposes; they are taking the whole gospel to the ends of the earth.

This paper aims to encourage businesswomen and men—whether entrepreneurs, managers, business professionals, or technical experts—that their gifts, experience, and capacity is a much-needed resource in global mission. In addition, it will exhort church and mission leaders to affirm and equip the business people in their networks and congregations so that they can effectively respond to the challenges in the global workplace today.

God gives us the ability to produce wealth

In Deuteronomy 8 we read that it is God who gives us the ability to produce wealth. He provides abundant natural resources so that we can use our creativity, talents, and hard work to provide for ourselves and innovate for society. Business processes naturally generate wealth and resources; companies are able to create good products and services for the benefit of communities. Business pushes forward innovation, helping societies develop; enterprises bring in new technologies, skills, and training to communities. Business, done well—not forgetting the Lord our God (Deut 8:11)—is glorifying to him.  Read more

10 Pressing Issues to Address in BAM in the Next 20 Years: 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 “Most Popular Post” for January to June 2019.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Jo Plummer

This year marks around 20 years since the term ‘Business as Mission’ was first used and discussed amongst a growing group of like-minded people around the world. Of course, there were pioneer BAM models before that time, not to mention the fact that business and mission have been integrated in many different ways since Paul the Apostle made tents! However, for this modern iteration, the cohesion and an international conversation around this concept really started around 20 years ago.

I like to think of this pioneer generation and what has followed as ‘BAM 1.0’. It is amazing to reflect on all God has done in our global community in the past couple of decades! Now, as we look forward to the future, we want to explore the theme of ‘BAM 2.0’ for a new series of posts on The BAM Review blog. In the coming months, we’ll discover where we’ve got to and the issues we still face for the future.

To prepare for this series, we asked 20 leaders who have been engaged in business as mission for between 10 and 35 years to tell us what they believe are the most pressing issues we must address if the BAM movement is to be even more fruitful for the next 20 years… and beyond! While this isn’t a scientific survey across the entire BAM community, it does represent wisdom from a collection of leaders who have served long in our movement.

Here are the 10 overarching issues that were identified by these leaders, in no particular order:  Read more

Investment in BAM: How to Get the Funds Flowing

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’. These described a lack of the kinds of resources and inputs that BAM practitioners, and the enterprises they run, need to increase their chances of long-term viability and health. These resource gaps included:

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, beginning with the challenge of financial capital flow.

Financial Capital Flow – Where’s the block?

Two main issues were identified within the issue of financial capital flow:

1. A lack of investors ready to finance BAM companies

2. A lack of investable BAM businesses, or ‘deal flow’

What was agreed is that adequately financing BAM is an issue that must be addressed for the future, and to address it we are likely to need to work on both ends of this flow.  Read more

Let Freedom Ring! Fighting Slavery with Business Solutions

by Mats Tunehag

Young children sold to sexual slavery. Yes, it was a grim fact of life year after year in a remote village in the Himalayas. Poverty was rampant and there was a lack of jobs. This made families desperate and vulnerable, and traffickers exploited the situation.

Some seasoned BAMers explored how they could change the situation. In communication and collaboration with the villagers they started an adventure tourism company with village home-stays. To make a long story short: this new economic opportunity transformed the village, and its families, for the good. Jobs with dignity were created and no more young children from this village have since been sold into slavery.

This is more than a sweet, and true, story from Nepal. This is an example of a growing number of companies that fight human trafficking through business. They are dealing with root causes to modern day slavery and they are tackling the systemic issues underpinning today’s evil – and highly profitable – slavery business.

Learning from History

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, organised 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 the slave trade and slavery. To that end they organised a decades long campaign focusing on justice, aiming at a root cause. They worked politically to change unjust and ungodly laws that permitted that dehumanising trade.  Read more

Reasons to Celebrate! Growth of BAM Over the Last 20 Years

by Jo Plummer

This year marks around 20 years since the term ‘Business as Mission’ was first used and discussed amongst a growing group of like-minded people around the world. At the very end of the 1990s and the early 2000s, there was a burst of activity around BAM: Consultations, Conferences, Books, Articles, the first Websites etc. – and this kick-started greater momentum in the BAM movement, which has been growing to this day.

We are exploring the theme ‘where we’ve got to and where we still need to go’ on The BAM Review blog in the coming months. You can read the introduction post ‘10 Pressing Issues to Address in BAM in the Next 20 Years’ for more about the topics we’ll be covering during this series.

Before we dive into the challenges ahead, we asked some of the same BAM Leaders to share their view on what progress we can celebrate in the BAM movement over the last 20 years or so. What are some wins, or significant growth areas that we should note and be thankful for?

Reasons to Celebrate: BAM Leaders Reflect

The movement has gained traction. People now understand the legitimacy and role of BAM in particular and the calling of business in general for the Great Commission. New organizations have been founded to address the gaps in the BAM movement such as mentoring, funding, events for promoting and networking, etc. More established older organizations have begun embracing BAM ministry by starting a division, department or group focused on BAM. The biggest win for me is the wider acceptance of BAM as a way to impact the world for Christ by the global Church (with a capital C). We still have a ways to go, but the progress has been significant. God has used the BAM movement to move the needle. – Joseph Vijayam, BAM Practitioner & Lausanne Catalyst  Read more

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