by Mike Baer
In the early to mid 1990’s, as BAM was beginning to be rediscovered in Scripture and the world of missions activity, there was a phrase floating around to describe what we were thinking and doing. Our company, The Jholdas Group, for example, actually built it into our mission statement. “Our purpose,” we wrote, “is to support church planting among the unreached people groups of the 10/40 Window through the seamless integration of Business as Mission.” I believe that this phrase, the seamless integration of Business as Mission, was and still is at the core of the modern BAM movements, it is the nucleus around which all other particles orbit.
Let’s quickly parse the phrase in reverse. There is not an “s.” in mission, It’s not “business as missions.” That would limit it to missionary activity. It’s bigger and more encompassing. The word mission refers to the purpose of God in the world. It’s much more than saving souls, although that is vital. The purpose of God, His mission, is to glorify Himself and His grace In Jesus Christ in this broken world by redeeming, restoring, and transforming people, communities, societies, institutions, and the environment affected by the fall. In the words of Isaac Watts, “He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found…”
What Business as Mission does in the term “seamless integration” is to simply ask every Christian to bring every aspect of his or her existence and constantly ask, “Lord Jesus, how might this glorify you?”
Business is God’s institution for producing wealth through the profitable exchange of ideas, labor, products, services, etc. It is His engine of wealth creation from before the fall and now after the fall; I, for one, believe that work and business will exist in the fully manifested Kingdom of God. Wealth creation is God’s means of blessing humanity, providing our daily bread, and enabling us to improve our lives and the lives of our neighbors.
Seamless integration means perfected unity. It is recognizing that when God created all things they worked together perfectly, they were aligned, they were integrated. Sin brought disintegration and fractured living. Grace brings wholeness, reintegration, and holism. Life under the Lordship of Christ knows no boundaries, no compartments, no hierarchies. Life and the life of the Body is a unified, free-flowing experience and expression of the glory of God.
This idea, then, of the “seamless integration of business as mission,” is much more than merely destroying the false sacred-secular dichotomy that has crippled the Church for centuries. The BAM movement has successfully challenged the false teaching that speaks of sacred places, sacred clothing, and sacred vocations. No more are people allowed to live in the deception that implies that anything less than “ministry” is either not a calling at or, at best, a low level call. The BAM movement has raised the biblical standard high, proclaiming that all followers of Christ are called (1 Corinthians 1:9; Ephesians 4:1) and that all the callings of God, because they come from Him, are equally high, equally perfect, and equally holy. (Romans 12:1-2)
It is this powerful truth that is emptying the pews of spectators and launching all disciples into world changing ministry in the name of Jesus. Business people, scientists, educators, lawyers, medical professionals, parents, etc. are hearing Jesus say to them, “Come forth. Walk with me. Watch how I will bless others through you.” This is “the priesthood of all believers” embraced and released!
Since all of us are called, gifted, and sent out to serve where He has sovereignty placed us, there simply are no boundaries in our lives. There are no compartments. There is no Sunday-Monday conflict. My life and your life are a totality of who we are in Christ, under His Lordship, and seeking to bring forth His Kingdom on earth. Wherever. Whenever. Whatever.
“There is not a single square inch of the entire domain of our human existence over which Jesus Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” – Abraham Kuyper
Seamless integration has come to rest in the Hebrew word avoda. Avoda translates “worship.” Avoda also translates “service.” Further, avoda translates “work.” How can one word be translated into three totally distinct words? Because they are not totally distinct. They are intrinsically connected as all the facets of a diamond are all parts or perspectives of the whole stone. Work is worship. Worship is service. Service is worship. Work is service. This beautiful word reveals the biblical view that all of life, every breath, every meal, every song, every cup of cold water, every sermon, and, yes, every sale resonates to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Each part of my life matters infinitely to God, my Father; even the hairs of my mainly bald head matter to Him. Jesus claims all of me. He redeemed all of me. He is Lord of every detail of my life. As Abraham Kuyper so powerfully said, “There is not a single square inch of the entire domain of our human existence over which Jesus Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” This my friends, is why Business as Mission works – just the same as Preaching as Mission, Parenting as Mission, Medicine as Mission work. The life of a purchased servant of Jesus Christ is MISSION!
The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1 asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” What Business as Mission does in the term “seamless integration” is to simply ask every Christian to bring every aspect of his or her existence and constantly ask, “Lord Jesus, how might this glorify you?”
Mike Baer was one of the early leaders in the modern Business as Mission movement. He started his career as a pastor and church planter. After 15 years in the pastorate Mike was led into business where he gradually began to discover the potential for believers in business to bless their communities, evangelize the lost and spread the Kingdom of God, especially among the unreached. After 22 years as the Chief Development Officer of EmployBridge, a $3.2 billion employment company based in the US, Mike retired and started Third Path Initiative (an online BAM education platform). He has written numerous books on BAM, including Business as Mission, Business as Mission When You’re Not the Boss, The Pastor and the Business Person, and Gospel Entrepreneur. Mike is a regular contributor to the Third Path Blog. Today Mike and his wife reside in the mountains of North Carolina where they enjoy their 7 grandchildren.
TRIVENTURE: THE BUSINESS AS MISSION LAUNCHPAD
The goal of Triventure is to provide you with the resources to establish a successful BAM enterprise and expand your Kingdom impact:
COURSES * COACHING * CAPITAL
Your first step on the Triventure journey is to enroll with Third Path, and start one of our free courses. Once you’ve completed one of our free courses, you are eligible to join the path to capital and launching. Complete three of our prescribed “path to capital” courses to move forward.