The business as mission community is contributing to a wider ‘listening process’ in the global evangelical mission community as part of our connection the Lausanne Movement. Lausanne asked us:
What are the most significant gaps or remaining opportunities toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20)?
We in turn received input from 25 global leaders on this question especially as it relates to business as mission. Four main themes emerged as leaders answered this question, which we will share in four blog posts through November.
The fourth and final theme focused on major resource gaps. Of course, the sacred-secular divide and lack of affirmation for the vocation of business (the theme of the first post in this series) is a major barrier to the mobilisation of people and other kinds of resources. However, this post builds on that and identifies specific kinds of human resources needed, plus initiatives such as prayer, funding, training, replicable business models that require focused attention if we are to continue to effectively respond to the Great Commission through the business sphere.
Theme 4: The Task Still Ahead and Plugging the Resource Gaps
In thinking in terms of BAM, we need more business builders. There are many BAM companies that need help growing and expanding their companies. More business builders will allow a greater reach into areas where people are living and dying without the Gospel being lived out among them.
To see greater impact for the Great Commission, we need to see more franchisable models for BAM which have a high-enough barrier to entry for competitors in local 10/40 locations. We also need to mobilise ever greater numbers of entrepreneurs that specifically have as one of their goals to enable a minimum of 5-10 other Great Commission focused people, providing a means for other business leaders and professions for long-term in-country incarnational presence in least reached nations.
If we are going to make disciples of all the nations, then we need to have a reason to be there. We know that the creation of a job, for many, can be the impetus behind their pathway to salvation. Bottom line is “People Need Jobs”. Gaining access to these individuals is a significant gap in our ecosystem. Finding the practitioners who can, in fact, transform lives through job creation is a major challenge. Once we are able to tell the story of Business as Mission, the response is almost always extremely positive. However, getting to these individuals can be difficult. One of the greatest opportunities is to work closely with churches and agencies already in-country and to find a way to integrate BAM where appropriate. In order for this to happen, there has to be someone in a leadership position within the church or agency who is willing to change. BAM needs to be looked at as a complement to their current strategy and not a threat. There has to be a sense of urgency that, at an aggregate level, doesn’t exist today.
Overall there is a diminishing interest in the Great Commission among young Christians. We need to identify why this is happening and create strategies to reverse the trend. For BAM-specific gaps and opportunities, we need more training for international entrepreneurship as starting business overseas requires very different skill sets. There is also a need for more funding mechanisms and we can be more creative in attracting a larger pool of funds). But, training and funding must go together (they are like chicken and egg problem).
Another opportunity (and potentially emerging gap) lies in the premature sidelining of men and women with decades of experience in multi-disciplinary callings who could add enormous value to the global missional enterprise through mentoring, skills deployment and boots on the ground incarnational presence. Without stimulating a “generation war” (as opposed to “class war”) and without perpetuating an attitude that “the old way is the better way”, the mobilisation of this resource needs to be prioritised. Finally, there is a gap (and corresponding opportunity) for the mobilisation of financial resources from parts of the world where they are in abundance to parts of the world where they are in short supply. This is not to perpetuate the dangerous money-axis of power structures that have often poisoned relationships (and disregarded local capacity) but to promote generosity as a Christian virtue, and sacrificial living as a paradigm for the disciple.
From a spiritual perspective, I believe too many evangelization and disciple making activities resemble “corporate training” and business initiatives. People are not encouraged to begin with prayer, and when they do it is very superficial. The second issue, people are not encouraged towards personal disciplines and holiness in their personal lives and often lack accountability. The third issue is the methods which we utilize, where we tend to think and work exclusively through organizations and programs and not relationships and individual involvement.
The gap between what BAM companies need in terms of human capital and what the global church has deployed is significant, particularly in the areas of financial management, marketing and business development, product development, risk management and corporate governance.
Collated by Jo Plummer, with thanks to the 25 BAM leaders that contributed input to the Lausanne Movement listening process. This listening process is part of “Lausanne 4”, a multi-year consultation on strategic issues in global mission.
>>Read Part 3: A Holistic Gospel and the Kingdom Coming in the Marketplace
Jo Plummer is the co-chair of BAM Global and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website and blog.