The A to Z of BAM: U to Z – from Untapped to Zero

by Mats Tunehag

U – Untapped

The Church is bigger than we think. If we want to see holistic transformation through business for generations to come, we need to recognize the scope of the Church, and think strategically.

There are about 2.4 billion Christians in the world; every third person on the planet has some Christian faith and affiliation. That’s an untapped resource.

Opus Dei [1] is a Catholic order founded in 1928 and operating in 66 countries. Its main message is “that every honest work can be sanctified”. The mission is to empower this relatively untapped and huge group: “They are making the Gospel present in all their activities, whether brilliant or humble and hidden, … in order to love and serve God and other people”.

The 2nd Vatican Council worked from 1962 to 1965, involving 2400 bishops and 500 experts. One of the documents affirms the godly role of laity, which should be equipped to serve in the marketplace. [2] It talks about a “royal priesthood”, which should “witness to Christ throughout the world, … in everything they do”.

Lausanne is a global network of Evangelical leaders initiated by Billy Graham in 1974. Lausanne organized a Global Workplace Forum in the Philippines in 2019. It was another important time of reflection, and mobilization of the untapped; [3] relating to about 500 million Evangelical Christians.

We want to affirm, equip and deploy business people from the whole church to serve God and the common good. 

 


V – Vocation

Work is not to be confused with employment. In English we sometimes use the word vocation, and for some it merely means a job, a profession. But the Christian concept is deeper and wider. Vocation has Latin roots and is related to calling. [4]

God calls and equips people to work in different vocations. The English writer Dorothy Sayers talks about Kingdom values in relationship to work and vocation, “not, primarily, as the thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do.” She notes in her essay ‘Why Work’ that “what the Church should be telling him (a carpenter) is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.” [5]

There is also a call to business, it is a vocation: “Entrepreneurs, managers and all who work in business, should be encouraged to recognise their work as a true vocation and to respond to God’s call in the spirit of true disciples. In doing so, they engage in the noble task of serving their brothers and sisters and of building up the Kingdom of God.” [6]

Let’s give Thomas Merton the final word: “All vocations are intended by God to manifest His love in the world.” [7]

W – Wealth

There are different kinds of wealth: financial, social, intellectual, cultural, and spiritual. Wealth can be created, shared, hoarded and destroyed. Hoarding is condemned, and destruction is certainly not commended! Sharing is good and encouraged. But there is never any wealth to be shared unless it has been created.

Our views on wealth, wealth creation and wealth creators are important.

One can compare the health and wealth of nations with the same culture and language like South and North Korea, and West and East Germany. We can witness how a potentially rich country like Zimbabwe has gone from being a bread basket to a basket case in southern Africa. The oil rich Venezuela is another tragic example of how disregard for basic wealth creation principles has destroyed a country.

So, what is the role of wealth creation when it comes to the holistic transformation of people and societies? What does the Bible say, and the Church teach? What lessons have we learned throughout history and around the globe about wealth creation, especially through business? How is wealth creation related to justice, the poor, human trafficking and creation care? All these questions and more are addressed in a blog series [8], reports, and an educational video series. Learn more about “The Global Impact of the Wealth Creation Manifesto

X – Xenophile

Many of us love learning about different cultures, customs and cuisines. We are intrigued by a vast and varied universe, and the complexity of our planet. They make up a beautiful mosaic which speaks loudly about a creative Creator. And He became one of us, in space and time, in a specific culture and country. The first Church council, recorded in Acts chapter 15, paved the way for celebrating a God who identified with a people and culture, but who at the same time can be manifest in all cultures, and also transcends them all. An incarnational mystery! These are reasons we are xenophiles.

BAM businesses come in all shapes and forms, and speaks different languages and have many cultural expressions. BAM is not one-size-fits-all.

The BAM movement has many centers on different continents, operating in many countries and cultures, advocating various BAM causes in a multitude of ways, and it gathers a variety of BAM constituencies. BAM exists in many languages, and some of the biggest BAM initiatives in the world do not operate in English. The Wealth Creation Manifesto, to give one example of the polyglot nature of BAM, exists in 17 languages. See footnote [9] for a few BAM websites in different languages.

We embrace and celebrate our diversity. BAM is xenophile!

Y – Yes

Business as Mission, BAM, is not our idea. It is a part of God’s plan of creation, redemption and restoration. BAM is a story within the greater meta-narrative, from the garden to the city, from Genesis to the book of Revelation.

Thus, BAM is not something we have made up, and now try to impose on others. No, BAM is about responding to God’s call, and to affirm, embrace and internalize His purpose for business, and our call to it.

We say yes when he says “come and follow me in the market place”. As we follow Him, we are inviting other to say ‘yes’, and to join us on our journey with God in the business world.

Z – Zero

Pizza night! You and your wife decide to share a pizza, but then your two kids show up. So, you decide to share, a quarter each instead of half a pizza per person. Then the neighbors come over, a family of four. What do you do now? Smaller slices per person? Or do you get more pizza?

Your answer may reveal an attitude, and a problem-solving method which is also used when it comes to economics and business.

To continue the analogy, some argue that there is a fixed amount of pizza, and the more people show up, the smaller the pieces. Some call for ‘simplicity’ or a ‘simple lifestyle’ as a solution; which nobody can really define. They state that resources are finite and projections are usually linear. This can lead to doomsday scenarios, which even Malthaus presented but was proven wrong.

Others say: let make more pizza! Let think creatively, and outside the box. How can we start more businesses, create more food, more green energy solutions, more housing, and more jobs? That is the BAM response. Creating more wealth does not make other people poorer. That is a zero-sum game.

We believe in a God who creates in abundance, and who wants us to create more and in abundance, so all can flourish.

 

Read more:

A-E – Avodah to Environmental

F-J – Freedom to Justice

K-O – Kingdom to Opportunity

P-T– Power to Tikkun Olam

 

Look out for the final part of the A to Z of BAM series: from Untapped to Zero on The BAM Review blog next week.

 

BAM: A to Z graphic design by Tanner Germany

Footnotes

[1] Opus Dei is part of the Catholic Church. The name is Latin for “Work of God”. Opus Dei’s mission is to spread the Christian message that every person is called to holiness and that every honest work can be sanctified. The founder Saint Josemaría says that Christians working in the world should not live “a kind of double life. On the one hand, an interior life, a life of union with God; and on the other, a separate and distinct professional, social and family life.” 

[2] See also blog The Global BAM Think Tank and the 2nd Vatican Council 

[3] See the paper on BAM submitted to the Global Workplace Forum: https://www.lausanne.org/content/business-mission-global-workplace

See also Lausanne’s Cape Town Commitment: 3. Truth and the workplace, and an article by Lausanne’s leader Michael Oh: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/june-web-only/apology-christian-99-1-percent-lausanne-gwf-michael-oh.html

[4] Albeit not the final arbiter on the issue, Wikipedia nevertheless has some helpful observations on the word vocation, the concept and its Christian use.

[5] D. Sayers in ‘Why Work?’: “In nothing has the church so lost her hold on reality as in her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation. She has allowed work and religion to become separate departments, and is astonished to find that, as a result, the secular work of the world is turning to purely selfish and destructive ends. and that the greater part of the world’s intelligent workers have become irreligious, or at least, uninterested in religion. But is it astonishing?  How can any one remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life?  The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays.  What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.”

[6] Vocation of the Business Leader, published by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

[7] Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

[8] Blogs in this series:

Shaping Our Views on Wealth, Wealth Creation and Wealth Creators

Creating Wealth for God’s Glory and the Common Good

Business Is a Holy Calling That Should Be Affirmed by the Church

Alleviating Poverty by Creating Businesses and Sharing Wealth

Business as an Agent of Human Flourishing and the Greater Glory of God

Business as Good News to the Poor

A Cup of Cold Water: Business and the Stewardship of Creation

The Global Impact of the Wealth Creation Manifesto

[9] Chinese: chinesebam.com 

Dutch: businessasmission.nl 

English: bamglobal.org & businessasmission.com

Portuguese: bamglobal.com.br 

Romanian: bamromania.ro

Russian: businessasmission.ru 

BAM in 21 languages: MatsTunehag.com

 

Mats Tunehag is a senior global ambassador for BAM and has worked in over half the countries of the world. He is the chairman of BAM Global and contributes to TransformationalSME.org. Visit MatsTunehag.com for BAM resources in 21 languages.

 

 

 

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