Why Bother With BAM?

The collapse of the Soviet Union

Remember the Soviet Union? It was a communist country with a planned centralized economy. Violations of human rights were prevalent, and it lacked freedoms to act in the marketplace. I was there and witnessed the dysfunctional state first hand. It was like a giant statue with feet of clay, and it did eventually topple and implode in December 1991.

One country became 15 countries. One currency became 15 currencies. One grand artificial and dysfunctional economic system crumbled and 15 new nations had to re-group and try to adjust to a market based global economy.

My Personal Journey into BAM

After the fall of the Soviet Union I continued to travel and work in Central Asia, especially in the “stans”: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and so forth. Certainly, there were geopolitical changes and turmoil, but there were many other changes as well. A lot of Christian agencies came to the region from all over the world. Further, we witnessed quite a remarkable number of people from a Muslim background who became followers of Jesus.

At the same time there was an exponential growth of unemployment and under-employment. This happened on a scale that most of us find hard to fathom. With this, came all kinds of social problems. How could we as followers of Jesus respond to this need? Jobs were urgently needed. But churches and mission agencies did not call upon the people most qualified to address these challenges – business people.

So in the mid-90s we began to explore how we could engage, equip and connect Christians in business with the needs and opportunities of the Central Asia region. We started the Central Asia Business Consultation and ran it for 10 years. The lessons we learned, including developing methods and networks to listen, learn, share, and connect, were foundational for the development of the global think tanks on Business as Mission. 

Genocide in Rwanda

A second game changer was the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. If our sole success criterion is church planting and growth, Rwanda was probably the ultimate success story in the history of church and missions.

In 100 years it went from 0 to approximately 90 percent of the population becoming members of various churches. But in the spring of 1994 about one million people were killed in just a few months. This was literally Christians killing Christians. Rwanda had people in church, but not church in people. The Gospel had not transformed ethnic relations, politics, or media.

What is Our Mission?

These tragic events forced me to review our mission. What is the mission of the church? How can we serve people and nations, and move towards a holistic transformation, believing that God can transform individuals and communities, churches and nations? What does it mean to be a Christian in the marketplace? How can we do business as mission, law as mission, education as mission, and city planning as mission? How can we serve God and the common good? What does it mean in practice and what are the lessons learned in seeking shalom and prosperity of cities and nations (as noted in Jer. 29)? How do we affirm, equip and deploy business people to exercise their gifts of wealth creation for the nations?

Genesis of BAM in Genesis

BAM is not a modern phenomenon or a new idea. God is the original entrepreneur. Business is deeply divine and deeply human. Doing business reflects who God is and who we are. God is the Creator; he worked and created good things for himself and others. The triune God created in community for community, which included Adam and Eve.

We are created in God’s image, thus we are to create good things – products and services. Just as God did quality control at the end of each creation / production day, and found the products good, we are to strive for excellence in business. God told Adam and Eve to work in the garden; by sowing one seed they could reap twenty. Thus they were involved in a value-add process. They received a good return on their investment (ROI) and made a profit.

Work, creativity, value added processes, profit, ROI, product development, quality control, and serving the common good – business fundamentals – are all found in the first chapters of the Bible. The genesis of BAM is in Genesis.

Rediscover Biblical Roots and Historical Connections

We always need to stand at the crossroads of the historical and the global church. We need to learn from those who have gone before us and connect with other around the globe today. We are not the first ones in history doing business for God and the common good. Here are a few examples.

The astute businesswoman in Proverbs 31 did market assessments, profitable investments, and used profit to grow her business, and she gave to charitable causes. She provided much needed employment. Verse 31 concludes that her work in and impact through business is commendable and should be recognized.

The transformative good news spread along the Silk Road as followers of Jesus did business. We can learn from the Moravians and the Quakers. The Cadbury (chocolate) family ran a business for many generations, with multiple bottom-lines for many stakeholders.[1]

Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771 – 1824) was instrumental for a spiritual revival in Norway while also influencing the industrialization of the country.[2]

BAM is a rediscovery journey, similar to the reformation era when there was a push to go back to the sources – ad fontes. We must pursue a deeper understanding of Biblical truths and apply them today.

Martin Luther’s statement is a reassuring reminder of BAM’s historical roots: “A cobbler, a smith, a farmer, each has the work and the office of his trade, and they are all alike consecrated priests and bishops, and every one by means of his own work or office must benefit and serve every other, that in this way many kinds of work may be done for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the community, even as all the members of the body serve one another.” [3]

Wealth Creation, Sharing, and Hoarding

We are not Christians just doing social enterprise. We are mandated to have a positive impact on multiple bottom-lines for multiple stakeholders, and God should always be one of them. Business as Mission is not a technique. It is a worldview and a lifestyle. It is about following Jesus in the marketplace, to the ends of the earth; it is about loving God and serving people through business.

As we do business we are to create wealth, not only financial wealth, but also social, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual wealth. The Bible talks about wealth in three ways: wealth creation, sharing, and hoarding. The last is condemned. Wealth sharing is encouraged, and occurs most often through NGOs and churches. But there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created. Wealth creation is a godly gift. God says that He gives the gift and ability to create wealth (Deut. 8:18). But He also reminds us that the wealth creation process, carried out through business, should be mindful of both God and others.

We should always have this dual goal: to do business for God and the common good. It makes a difference. Noah and his sons undertook a massive engineering project with this perspective and it led to the salvation of mankind and creation. An equally impressive construction project was the Tower of Babel. However God was left out of this endeavor; the project, with selfish motives, led to the breakdown of society.

Connect Sunday with Monday

BAM is a worldview, shaped by the Bible, and sees creativity in business as potentially helpful for people and society. It involves affirming, equipping, and deploying business people into service.

But the sacred-secular divide is deeply entrenched in our churches and in our thinking as Christians all around the world.

Pope John Paul II said that There cannot be two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand, the so- called “spiritual” life, with its values and demands; and on the other, the so- called “secular” life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social relationships, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture.This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age”. [4]

BAM is not just a minor tweak in our business techniques. It is about aligning our thinking with the Bible’s view on work and business. BAM is about connecting Sunday with Monday. Whatever we believe and profess in church on Sunday should inform our business goals and activities on Monday. God wants it and the world needs it.

Connect with global movement

20 years ago we could not credibly talk about a global BAM movement. Today, by the grace of God, we can. Since 2002 two global BAM think tanks have convened, the BAM Global Congress was held in 2013 with nearly 600 participants from over 40 countries, and 19 BAM Global BAM Think Tank reports have been published (as of May 2016). Each tool has been instrumental in bringing about a global cohesion and understanding of the BAM concept.[5] (See the BAM Manifesto enclosed below)

BAM is about serving people, aligning with God’s purposes, being good stewards of the planet, and making a profit. BAM is seeking holistic transformation of people and societies. BAM affirms that the business is an instrument, which we should shape and fine-tune to serve people and nations – to the greater glory of God.[6] BAM recognized the importance of SME’s (small and medium-sized enterprises), since they are strong transformational agents.[7]

The BAM Global Think Tanks have also created an unprecedented national, regional, international and issue or industry based connectedness of people and ideas.[8]

Today both the Lausanne Movement and the World Evangelical Alliance have embraced BAM. A large number of significant international mission agencies have as well. There is a growing number of masters’ theses and doctoral works on BAM, along with BAM courses and BAM-based MBA programs at universities and colleges around the world.

This is a global movement, not an American one. Some of the oldest and largest national BAM movements in the world are found in Asia.[9]

Join the growing global movement of business people who are shaping businesses for God and for the common good.

Mats Tunehag

www.MatsTunehag.com

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The BAM Manifesto,[10] published October 2004, was adopted by the first BAM think tank, which “worked for a year, addressing issues relating to God’s purposes for work and business, the role of business people in church and missions, the needs of the world and the potential response of business”.

Excerpts:

Affirmations
We believe that God has created all men & women in His image with the ability to be creative, creating good things for themselves and for others – this includes business.

We believe in following in the footsteps of Jesus, who constantly and consistently met the needs of the people he encountered, thus demonstrating the love of God and the rule of His kingdom.

We believe that the Holy Spirit empowers all members of the Body of Christ to serve, to meet the real spiritual and physical needs of others, demonstrating the kingdom of God.

We believe that God has called and equipped business people to make a Kingdom difference in and through their businesses.

We believe that the Gospel has the power to transform individuals, communities and societies. Christians in business should therefore be a part of this holistic transformation through business.

We recognise the fact that poverty and unemployment are often rampant in areas where the name of Jesus is rarely heard and understood.

We recognise both the dire need for and the importance of business development. However it is more than just business per se. Business as Mission is about business with a Kingdom of God perspective, purpose and impact.

We recognise that there is a need for job creation and for multiplication of businesses all over the world, aiming at the quadruple bottom line: spiritual, economical, social and environmental transformation.

Recommendation

We call upon the Church worldwide to identify, affirm, pray for, commission and release business people and entrepreneurs to exercise their gifts and calling as business people in the world–among all peoples and to the ends of the earth.

We call upon business people globally to receive this affirmation and to consider how their gifts and experience might be used to help meet the world’s most pressing spiritual and physical needs through Business as Mission

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[1] Suggested reading: Chocolate Wars, by Deborah Cadbury

[2] http://matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Hauge-.pdf

[3] An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility

[4] CHRISTIFIDELES LAICI: THE VOCATION AND MISSION OF THE LAY FAITHFUL IN THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD: Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II to bishops, priests, deacons, women and men religious and all the lay faithful (December 30, 1988)

[5] The following working definition is a result of the first Think Tank on BAM (2002-2004), which, among other things, produced the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission as well as the BAM Manifesto.

Business as Mission is:

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

[6] Do business like Bach! Check this short video, 79 seconds: https://vimeo.com/152713982

[7] See brief paper that elaborates on the potential danger of micro business, and the value of small and medium size enterprises, SME’s. http://www.matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/WEA-MC-Paper-on-Why-is-Bangladesh-poor-and-Taiwan-rich-May-091.pdf

[8] See www.BAMGlobal.org and the BAM Manifesto above

[9] See also BAM material in 16 languages at www.MatsTunehag.com

[10] http://matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/BAM-MANIFESTO-2.pdf

5 Stages of the Birth of a New BAM Company

Peter Shaukat , CEO of Transformational SME (TSME), identifies five stages in the emergence of a new business as mission company. Each stage, from conception to launch, involves the integration of missional and commercial elements.

Preparation Stage

This is before the ‘baby is born’, the preparation that has taken place even before the business journey starts. It is about recognising what God has already done in the practitioner’s life in regards to their sense of missional call and life experiences; the tapestry woven together in their life before the BAM entity begins to be incubated. Preparation includes both business preparation and missiological preparation. What has God been doing to both missionally and professionally prepare the person, in terms of their skills and competencies?

This is where mentoring should begin: Tell me what God has been doing in your life? Tell me what your sense of call is? Tell me how God has been preparing you? The incubation process needs to begin there. The incubation of a new BAM business is the result of the process that God has already been doing before that.

Perception Stage

The perception stage is the next step. This is about gaining an understanding of what is going on in the environment that God has called you to do business as mission within; and what God wants to do through the business. What is going on in that environment in commercial terms? What are the needs? What is the market? What is the specific missional element? What is the missional calling to the people group? How is God raising up your business? The perceiving stage addresses the question: What is your business going to be about, commercially and missionally? This is the beginning of the gestation stage of the new business.

Activities in the perception stage will include formal market research, missiological research, taking exploratory trips, etc. There is no hard and fast rule, but this perception process needs to be at least 6 months to a year of really studying the market.

There are a couple of common stumbling blocks in the BAM movement in this stage. On the commercial side there has too often been inadequate market research. BAM companies have moved prematurely to the launch of the business without adequately researching the market. This is the stumbling block of falling in love with your product and discovering after the fact that the market doesn’t have the same affinity for it! Mentoring comes into this process. The BAM practitioner will need someone who is business-minded to ask good questions, to ask have you thought about these things? Where are you getting your commercial perceptions from? Have you checked out the local Chamber of Commerce? Have you met with government officials? And so on. The other common stumbling block is inadequate understanding of the missiological, anthropological, and sociological issues that are at play.

TSME has engaged with lots of BAM practitioners over the years at this perception stage; asking them questions around market, around their business readiness, around missiological understanding, etc. We have found that some practitioners need more commercial development, while others need more missiological development.

Persuasion Stage

This is the period of incubation that primarily involves team building, persuading others to join you. If you hold that it is risky and hard to launch a BAM company in isolation, as an individual, and that it is ideal to build a team around this business idea, then incubation will involve this stage of persuasion. Persuasion follows on from the perception stage and is about envisioning others and getting your team lined up, your investors lined up, engaging your spouse, and so on. From a funding perspective that will involve getting your ‘family, friends, and fools’, or, alternatively, your ‘love capital’, lined up for the start-up. The persuasion process is critical, it is bringing others on board, with commitment, with a willingness to sacrifice, to get to the point of ‘we’re going to do this together’.

The persuasion process also includes working together with national Christians and understanding together the context and business. This will involve persuading each other of the vision and intent of the company, and further refining what might work and what won’t. This should be bilateral; an expat that is not willing to listen to national Christians on what tweaking and refinement is needed is doomed to failure. This of course is not the same thing as listening to all voices – for there will be many nay-sayers and people who just don’t get it.  Choose your national counsellors with discernment and humility.

Through the persuasion stage you will also be perceiving new things about what God is doing. So these are not cut and dry, consecutive stages, this is an iterative process, where elements from previous stages repeat and intensify one another. It is like a river flowing in a linear direction, but within that flow there are eddies and circular movements sometimes carrying you forward, sometimes backward. In business incubation you get this reinforcement between persuasion and an even greater perception, as the vision for the business moves forward.

At this stage, the mentor is more hands-off. There is a mentoring process there, but it says to the practitioner, “If you are not able to persuade others to join your team, then I am not able to persuade them for you.” What is needed is availability and more of a Barnabas-type encouragement role. If you are the BAM practitioner, you have to do that persuasion process yourself to engage others to join your team, to finance your business and so on. For the business incubator the key role in this stage is to be an encourager to the persuader.

This is one of the key reasons that TSME has not funded start-ups. TSME has itself gone through the incubation process and as we developed our business model, we perceived that businesses could start with available resources from people closest to the entrepreneur – especially if it is a lean start-up – but it was the continuation process that they were most struggling with, in financial terms. We also realised that when the funding comes too easily at the start-up phase, the resilience of that persuasion process can actually be undermined. We fund businesses that have already been through that persuasion process, that have already got others engaged to start the business, and now they need to develop it.

Planning Stage

This is the detailed process of getting all the essential elements of your business lined up – the business planning process. It is understanding what the inputs to the business are, in turn, moving through a finite set of business processes, to what the business outputs are. Again it is an iterative process, after all, how can you persuade people if there are major unresolved pieces of the business planning process? However, persuasion begins first, because you need people willing to join you so that the planning can take place in a team context, otherwise you will be planning in a vacuum. You need to get people lined up behind the vision before the planning is complete, because in a sense it will never be complete. Although, there will be elements of the persuasion stage that will be dependent on presenting a decent plan – and that is legitimate and to be expected.

In terms of the services that are provided in the planning stage, again coaching and mentoring are very important. It is important to be thinking through with people experienced in business who can help you plan. This is where the traditional concept of incubation and the activities of the incubator are often centered. There is classically this idea of a ‘hothouse’ environment or facility where there is mind-share with like-minded groups, where the incubator has a group of experienced, committed coaches who are helping to refine the business plan and that the business planning process is being acted on step by step.

Business as mission is not a purely commercial enterprise, so the planning process for BAM companies is going to include missional planning and the development of a spiritual impact plan. This may include a cultural adaptation and language learning phase, living with a national family, for instance, or other necessary preparations.

Perseverance Stage

This is the launch cycle, where the ‘baby is born’ in sense – and where it might be keeping you up at night, there might be teething problems! The incubation process involves persevering through the phase of business start-up. What do you need at that point? This is where field-support in terms of mentoring and coaching, and prayer support is needed.

This material was first published in the BAM Think Tank Report on BAM Incubation.

Characteristics of a BAM Practitioner

Peter Shaukat interviewed by Jo Plummer, Editor of The BAM Review

We have developed an interesting questionnaire for potential BAM practitioners which get to some of these criteria. Here are ten of the top ranking criteria in our experience:

  1. Well-rounded thinking
    We look for a genuine, thoughtful understanding of work as ministry, with the experience and capacity to grapple with ethical issues, able to live with a certain degree of ambiguity – i.e. they are not black and white in their thinking.
  1. Servant leaders
    BAM practitioners, fundamentally, are called by God to a ministry of exercising servant-leadership in the marketplace – the arena which is, in our time, the most influential, agenda-setting nexus of human activity.  Understanding how to be an agent of redemption and transformation in such a context – and bringing some tangible experience to the table in doing so – is indispensable.
  1. Devotional life
    We seek out those with a demonstrated ability to nurture their own devotional life through the Word and prayer.  A close walk with God, and taking responsibility for one’s spiritual formation both individually and within the context of community is essential not only to survival, but to “thrival”, a unique mixture of faithfulness and fruitfulness to the greater glory of God.
  1. High risk-tolerance
    We look for a genuine, high risk-tolerance as they live out an incarnational presence on the ground.  In a day when the culture of the age is to insulate, isolate and insure ourselves against suffering and harm, the counter-culture of the Kingdom is to carry our cross daily – this is not just a “spiritual” thing, but touches upon the daily conduct of business.
  1. Self-awareness in terms of personal attributes
    We are looking for those that are aware of, and humbly able to recognise their combination of skills, talents, experience (linking formal education with real life experience) and spiritual giftings and practice, since both are needed to do BAM well.
  1. Emotional intelligence
    We look for those who are relationally adept and have good EQ (emotional quotient), regardless of what their Myers-Briggs, DISC, or other psychometric categories might suggest.  These two characteristics (temperament shaped by fruitful formation through abiding in the Vine) are non-negotiable in cross-cultural settings.
  1. Openness and intentionality towards missional and cultural preparation
    We are working with BAM companies in the majority Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist world – so this shapes the Christ-centred, missiological perspective, passions and preparedness of any potential candidate. We look for adequate, appropriate preparation for the spiritual and cultural context into which they are planning to proceed, combined with a curious learner’s heart for in situ observation and assimilation. Language and culture acquisition are pretty fundamental realities to doing business well, making friends and influencing people. (This needs to be balanced in many situations with the realisation that English may in fact be the lingua franca, so not always is the standard language acquisition template appropriate.) Similarly, understanding the deep worldview of the particular religious context is essential – although, again, some traditional mission approaches prepare in categories that the business world finds irrelevant, or missing altogether. Keep in mind that the BAMer’s cultural contexts may quite likely include the potential diversity of other expats who might be involved in the business, and not just ‘the nationals’.
  1. Team-oriented
    We also look for a balanced view of strategic collaboration and a communitarian, team-oriented approach to mission (and business, for that matter). This balanced view should render them open to the concept of being sent and resourced in a variety of ways for wholistic impact, and genuinely engaged in accountable relationships both ‘at home’ and ‘in the field’.
  1. Realistic financial expectations
    We are working with BAM companies in generally less-affluent contexts, so this shapes the financial compensation realities and therefore the expectations of a potential candidate. We look for realistic expectations about and appropriate personal circumstances in regards to finance. We strongly recommend that, generally, the candidate should understand and be prepared to work with the Holy Spirit in assembling the full package of necessary and sufficient financial resourcing – all of which, whatever the source, comes from Him. This can include that which God provides through like-minded Christians, and/or, through their own financial means already or in other ways provided by God.
  1. Longer term availability
    We look at sufficient availability. Unless it is a very specific task oriented role which might indeed be shorter term, most BAM companies would be looking for a minimum of six months; one year is better, and within two years real value can be added to the company or it becomes mutually clear that it’s not a good ongoing fit. Ideally though there would be a commitment for more than two years since ‘longer is generally preferred’. This is both because companies need good, stable talent, and because transformational impact and potential comes with deeper relationships.

Then depending on the individual’s marital and family status, consideration needs to be given to a whole range of spiritual and practical issues. In practical terms, age, ethnicity, gender, or even health may come into play as a criteria. These are important to process as we assess reality in which they will find themselves attempting effective BAM.

These would be the key ones, with others being relevant of course.


Peter Shaukat
 has lived and worked in a professional and business capacity for over 30 years throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South and North America and is a pioneer in the business as mission movement. He currently consults on business as mission all over the world and is the CEO of a global investment fund for BAM enterprise in the Arab world and Asia.

First published in BAM Review http://businessasmission.com/blog/

Business According to a Global Dictionary of Theology

So what is an article on business doing in a global dictionary of theology?** What place does business have in the life and witness of the Body of Christ worldwide? Why should businesspeople take an interest in theology and its practical outworking as they ply their trade? These questions go to the heart of a persistent struggle waged by the church throughout history.

  1. Business in a global context

Economic issues rank high on the agenda for much of the world. For good or ill, commercial priorities and the behavior of business leaders are shaping global events, in some notable cases, far beyond the capacity of traditional centers of influence, such as governments, to control or match. In many countries unemployment is rampant; even the solutions to other apparently unrelated issues, such as HIV/AIDS or traffic in human beings, involve a business oriented response. The church must choose between responses of ambivalence, antagonism, or positive engagement with business in its holistic understanding of the gospel.

  1. Foundational theological concepts

Theological reflection on business is part of a larger set of issues including debate over distinctions between sacred and secular, the nature of work and ministry, and, in the missiological arena the nature and role of so-called “tentmaking”, of which business is generally taken to be a subset. An important overarching concept is the prophetic call to love justice, practice kindness, and walk humbly with God (Mic 6. 8). The vexing issue of profit is addressed in scripture. Many of Jesus’ own teachings use business examples, often favourably, to illustrate ultimate truth.

  • The Person of God

It might be said that God is the original entrepreneur. Beginning with an idea, and creating that which was good in all respects, God reveals His Person, and shows us an essential outlook on life (Gen. 1.1 – 2.3). Furthermore, the central business activity of providing meaningful and sustainable employment is a demonstration of justice and kindness, grounded in the character of God.

  • The Power of the Gospel

Alongside of proclamation is the need to demonstrate the transforming power of the gospel to a skeptical world. From the “thief who steals no more” (Eph. 4. 28) to the executive who “provides what is right and fair” (Col. 4.1) modeling successful business, based on God’s truth and prayerfully led by the Spirit, is a tangible and irrefutable witness.

  • The Priesthood of all Believers

The “ecclesia”, the people of God, are found on the shop floor, in factories, and other work settings. Especially in countries where suspicion and hostility to the gospel is strong, the most natural and credible opportunities to evangelize and make disciples are often found among employees, suppliers and customers of businesses led by committed Christians.

  • The Practice of Stewardship

In contrast to conventional wisdom, the Christian affirms that business does not exist to maximize shareholder wealth, but by the permission of God and to be a channel of blessing to others. This leads to a number of considerations concerning the proper direction and use of all that God gives us, including the gifts of time and talent represented by employees, the earth’s resources, the very products and services produced, and the profit which accrues. These concerns are foremost in the thinking of the faithful steward.

  1. Historical perspectives

Beginning with the story of Abraham, including the account of the worthy woman of Prov. 31, and culminating with the record of Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18), entrepreneurs hold an important place in the unfolding of God’s purposes. In the Middle Ages, the Nestorians carried the gospel along the Silk Road as they conducted business on East-West trade routes. The influence of the Moravians and Basel entrepreneur missionaries of the 18th and 19th centuries was far-reaching. The Norwegian entrepreneur, Hans Nielsen Hague (1771 – 1824) represents a dramatic example of the power of business in the hands of a committed Christian to literally transform an entire society. Far from being on the fringes of God’s global purposes, business has often played a central role. With this historical perspective in mind, the challenge of our day is in many respects to recover and implement afresh this exciting heritage.

  1. Business as a multidisciplinary exercise

For the church worldwide to effectively embrace business as a vocation for its membership the collaboration of those with of a wide range of skills and spiritual gifts will be required. For example, because the practice of business takes place in a cultural context, anthropological perspectives are necessary. Similarly, the contribution of ethicists, economists, environmentalists, historians, journalists, lawyers, missiologists, sociologists, and others will add value to the more classic “business” competencies of finance, product development, marketing, and human resources. Chief among the spiritual gifts required will be courageous prophets, envisioned pastors, and authoritative teachers, if those saints who are called to a ministry of business are to accomplish this with Christ-honouring accountability, affirmative equipping, and adequate resourcing for the task.

  1. Current trends

There is a global movement of the Spirit in connection with business. Virtually every country in the world and every part of the Body of Christ is being touched. Perhaps most significantly, individual believers with business skills are being awakened to the potential involvement they can have in furthering the Kingdom of God in the business arena. In 2005, a gathering of over seventy representatives from every continent met in connection with the Lausanne Consultation in Thailand to focus on business as a missional activity for the church. Emerging across the world in at least a half dozen regions, many of which are economically poor and where the church is in a small minority, are consultations of entrepreneurs, business professionals and others engaged in the issues of business for the greater glory of God. Spanning the globe are Christian business ministries to executives and employees with a calling to the higher purposes of God. All this represents a genuine sign to the people of God, and to the world, of the Kingdom in our midst.

Peter Shaukat and Mats Tunehag

** Global Dictionary of Theology. Editied by Dyrness & Kärkkäinen. IVP 2008

Bibliography

Cleveland, Paul, Gregory Gronbacher, Gary Quinlivan, and Michel Therrien, A Catholic Response to Economic Globalization: Applications of Catholic Social Teaching, (Grand Rapids, MI.: Acton Institute, 2001)

Danker, William, Profit for the Lord, (Eugene, Oreg.: Wipf & Stock, 2002, originally published by Eerdmans, 1971)

Grudem, Wayne, Business for the Glory of God: The Bibles Teaching on the Moral Goodness of Business, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003).

Hill, Dr. Alexander, Just Business – Christian Ethics for the Marketplace, (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1997).

Myers, Bryant, Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1999).

Rundle, Steve, and Tom Steffen, Great Commission Companies: The Emerging Role of Business in Missions, (Downers Grove, IL.: InterVarsity Press, 2003).

Schlossberg, Herbert, Ronald J. Sider and Vinay Samuel, Eds, Christianity and Economics in the Post-Cold War Era, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994).

Tunehag, Mats; McGee, Wayne; Plummer, Josie (editors), Business as Mission. Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 59. (www.lausanne.org) 2004

 

Wealth Creation: A Godly Gift and Command

As we do business, we create wealth – not only financial wealth, but also social, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual wealth. The Bible talks about wealth in three ways: wealth creation, sharing and hoarding. The last is condemned. Wealth sharing is encouraged and is often facilitated through NGOs and churches, but there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created. Wealth creation is a godly gift; God says that He gives the ability to create wealth. (Deut. 8:18)

Let’s look at the context of this statement in Deuteronomy chapter eight. The people of Israel have been brought out of Egypt and are about to enter the Promised Land. God tells them what to expect and what to do. He explicitly states that there are good business prospects in mining and agriculture. People are admonished to seize these opportunities. As a result, wealth will be created. But then a danger arises, or rather, two potential pitfalls.

Firstly, God says there is a risk that people will think and say that they themselves have created wealth, failing to acknowledge the Lord in it. This is what precedes verse 18. So God reminds them that He is the one who gives the gift and ability to create wealth.

Secondly, wealth creation is put into the context of the Covenant. God entered into a Covenant with Abraham and his descendants that He blessed them so they could bless others – locally and globally. But, one could say blessings are beyond words. To bless others is to create all kinds of wealth and in turn, share it. This is indeed a part of the Covenant. And one mustn’t forget God -the initiator of the Covenant.

Wealth creation processes, done through business, should be mindful of both God and others. We should always have this dual goal: to do business for God and the common good. It makes a difference. Noah and his sons undertook a massive engineering project with this perspective and it led to the salvation of mankind and creation. An equally impressive construction project was the Tower of Babel. However God was left out of this project, and, built on selfish motives, it led to the breakdown of society.

The gift and calling to create wealth is beyond a micro finance loan or a single small or medium size business. It is about building nations, and seeking the welfare of cities.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city.” (Jer. 29)

Here the people of Israel are in exile. They are in a country they didn’t choose. But they mustn’t sit and sulk, simply go into survival mode, or withdraw into religious ceremonies and meetings. No, they are commanded to start businesses, develop the local economy, and in doing so strive for shalom. Shalom is whole relationships filled with integrity. Business is about relationships with customers, clients, suppliers, staff, community, city, and environment. Seek shalom with all these partners and entities, as you seek to create wealth and prosperity for cities and nations.

Pope Francis writes: “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.” 

Wealth creation is a godly gift. Use it – for God and the common good.

Mats Tunehag

The BAM Global Movement

I spent a few days in Thailand this week in planning meetings for the expansion of the BAM Global Think Tank.** During the visit I was interviewed about the status of the Business as Mission movement; its yesterday, today and tomorrow. Here goes…

Mats Tunehag has been speaking, writing and convening on business as mission for 20 years. When he visited The BAM Review office recently, we asked him a few questions about the business as mission movement.

Mats, what have you seen changing in business as mission in the last 15-20 years?

We are seeing a reawakening of what it means to be a Christian in business in our day and age. There has been remarkable growth of people getting engaged in doing business for God and the common good. If we take a 15 year time span, there are things we have today that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Now, we have a greater common understanding globally of this idea that we call ‘business as mission’. There are significant common denominators in our understanding, even though terminology may vary from group to group.

15 years ago when you mentioned business as mission, there were many questions about ‘What is that?’, ‘Is this something we want to get involved in?’. Today you can travel to almost any country and bump into people who have heard of, or are talking about, or practicing, business as mission. That is one of the major changes globally.

Another change in the last 15 years, is that we now see an unprecedented global connectedness of people involved in business as mission (BAM). There are now many more people involved in the ‘BAM ecosystem’ around the world; not just business owners, and other business professions, but those that provide support services. There is a growing recognition that businesses are needed for holistic impact, by mission agencies, churches, academics, and others who are connecting in. So now there isn’t just individual expressions of business as mission around the world, but a global movement. People are working together, and having a broader impact, and that is a significant change.

What’s ahead? What do you see as some of the big opportunities for the BAM movement for the future?

We need to acknowledge that businesses can provide solutions some of the most serious issues globally. Even more so, BAM businesses have a unique contribution to make as we are trying to address some of the dire problems that we find around the world. For example, according to some statistics, there is a 1.8 billion job deficit globally, that is rising, especially among young people in the Arab world and Asia. One of the biggest challenges we are facing is unemployment, underemployment and the lack of jobs with dignity. This is beyond just job creation, the Mafia also creates jobs, and so does the sex industry! This is about creating jobs, with human dignity, that honor God and are good for people and society.

Many countries are facing enormous environmental challenges and we know that through technological innovations, there are solutions that can be commercialized to address such problems.

Another global issue is the endemic corruption that keeps people and nations in poverty. Business as mission is also about doing ‘business as justice’! That means – like the Old Testament prophets before us – we take a stand against bribes, labour exploitation and cheating customers and suppliers on products, services or payments. How can we shape our businesses, and connect our businesses, to create momentum for fighting corruption?

We need to keep increasing that connectedness that I was talking about earlier, and build a critical mass of Christians in the marketplace that are involved in business as mission – regardless of what they call it or what terms they use, or what business or industry they are in.

What do you think is holding us back?

A major challenge we encounter again and again is the issue of worldview. Business as mission is not a technique, it’s a worldview centered on following Jesus in to the marketplace.

This worldview, shaped by the Bible, includes seeing wealth creation as something good and seeing creativity in business as being something that is helpful for people and society. It involves affirming, equipping and deploying business people into service as they do business unto God and for the common good.

The sacred-secular divide is deeply entrenched in our churches and in our thinking as Christians all around the world. So we can’t just do a minor tweak in our business techniques. No, there is a need to completely align our thinking with the Bible’s view on work and business.

What are you particularly excited about at the moment?

That this is actually a global movement! This is bigger than any organization or person or business or conference. A movement means that there is a growth that is beyond any one person’s control. If we think about the a global charismatic movement that emerged in the 1970‘s, for instance, there were some significant leaders and initiatives, but you could never find out where the headquarters of the charismatic movement was! There was no number to call!

The same is happening with business as mission now. God is at work and people around the world are embracing Biblical truths and running with it. There is a great variety of things happening from place to place and industry to industry; and while there is common vision and purpose, you can’t point to the center. It is a true movement and that is so exciting to me.

Mats Tunehag in conversation with Jo Plummer, Editor of The BAM Review 

“It is capitalism, not democracy, that the Arab world needs most”

“It is capitalism, not democracy, that the Arab world needs most”. This was the thought provoking title of a very helpful analysis of the current situation in the Arab world. It also highlights an essential need – jobs and business development, and the legal framework needed to that end.

The word capitalism is full of connotations, some quite negative. Thus is may be helpful to convey what Pope John Paul II said in Centesimus annus 1991:

“Can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?

The answer is obviously complex. If by “capitalism” is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a “business economy”, “market economy” or simply “free economy”.

But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.”

This lack of freedom in the economic sector is one of the dire problems in the Arab world. A businessperson in Tunisia started the so-called Arab Spring. His aspirations were freedom and rule of law principles in the marketplace. It was not a call for political freedom in general, nor a demand for a general election or for the right to freely surf on the Internet.

The article in The Telegraph will elaborate further. To read the article, click here –> “It is capitalism, not democracy, that the Arab world needs most”

It may also be helpful to read the following article: To Help the World’s Poor, Give Them Real Jobs

It is about human dignity and long term solutions: In surveys about people’s biggest concerns worldwide, income and employment pretty much always come out on top. Polls across countries also suggest that losing a job is one of the biggest possible hits to self-reported happiness.”

To read the article, click here –> To Help the World’s Poor, Give Them Real Jobs

Mats Tunehag

 

 

BAM & the Olive Tree – Mats Tunehag

BAM & the Olive Tree

There have been movements of societal transformation throughout history.

Key leaders like Luther, Calvin, Knox, and Zwingli catalyzed the Protestant reformation. Approximately 200 years ago William Wilberforce and others spearheaded the movement fighting for the abolition slavery and slave trade. The civil rights movement in the USA brought about significant change and Martin Luther King was an audacious leader.

Societal transformation implies good and lasting change. It is not about achieving perfection; there will always be room for improvement. Societal transformation can also be bad, like in Europe in the 1930s and 40s, ending with the Holocaust; or seen in the negative consequences of the Islamic revolution in Iran 1979 and onwards.

Looking at the movements of societal transformation – for good – one can observe some common themes and denominators.

They…

  • started as a small minority
  • shared a vision
  • embraced common values
  • connected with one another
  • built critical mass
  • had commendable tenacity

Business as Mission / BAM is another movement for social transformation. Today there is a global BAM movement; it was not the case 20 years ago. There were expressions of BAM back then and even long before that. But now there is an unprecedented global cohesion and connectedness.

Small minority & common values

The BAM movement is still small (a minority), but vision and values are increasingly shared across the globe. (The Lausanne paper on BAM 2004, deals with values and essential BAM building blocks, especially in chapter 4, click here http://www.matstunehag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/BAM-LOP-June-05.pdf )

Shared vision

The first global think tank on BAM (2003 – 2004) and the Lausanne paper on BAM (2004) helped catalyze a common global understanding of the concept. How can we shape business for God and the common good?

How can businesses…

  • serve people
  • align with God’s purposes
  • be good stewards of the planet
  • and make a profit?

This is often referred to as the quadruple bottom-line. We are aiming at a positive impact economically, socially, environmentally and spiritually, leading to holistic transformation of people and societies – to the greater glory of God. We are especially concerned about the world’s poorest and the least evangelized peoples.

Connected with one another

The yearlong global think tank process has increased the connections, created global connectivity of key players in the BAM eco-system, with people from every continent.

The global BAM think tank had approximately 30 national, regional and international working groups collaborating. Leaders from these groups plus other BAM leaders at large, about 80 in total, met at the Leaders Forum 22 – 24 April in Thailand.

The largest global gathering ever of social and intellectual capital in the BAM space followed this. More than 550 people from over 40 nations came to the BAM Congress, 25 – 28 April. The Congress collaborated with a BAM Trade Fair, which followed right after, and it had over 200 participants.

These BAM think tanks (2003 – 2004 and 2011 – 2013), these processes, meetings and the BAM Congress have been instrumental in building a global BAM movement, establishing a shared vision, developing common values, and facilitating a global network of BAM practitioners and other key leaders in the overall BAM eco-system.

Critical mass

How about critical mass in the BAM movement? Without critical mass of sizeable BAM businesses we cannot see transformation on a macro level; on cities, cultures and nations. Critical mass, in the BAM movement, is yet to come, albeit promising indicators are emerging in some countries and areas.

Tenacity

What about tenacity? For BAM is an intergenerational issue, like other movements of societal transformation.

BAM is not instant coffee: take a few bits of BAM thinking and stir into a business and voilà: transformation. No, societal transformation takes time, and we want to set a stage and serve our generation in such a way that it will be a blessing for many generations to come.

BAM & the Olive Tree

We can learn from the olive tree. Many of us think in terms of two kinds of olives: green and black. But there are 1000 or more varieties. In the BAM movement we are not just two categories: business people on the hand, and church and mission people on the other. No, we are part of a greater eco-system, of investors, bookkeepers, prayer partners, entrepreneurs, academics, human trafficking experts, theologians, marketing and sales people, and many others.

It takes about 25 years before an olive tree bears fruit, olives that can be eaten. But once it starts bearing fruit, it can produce olives for 2000 years or more. Olive trees are intergenerational blessings.

The modern BAM movement is still young; we are in some ways still within the first 25 years of the life of an olive tree. We do see some fruit, but are eagerly awaiting more. But we need to nurture and care for the BAM olive tree in these early days of the movement. We want to build a movement that can bring good and lasting transformation, and we know it takes time. But we need tenacity; we must hold onto our vision, maintain our values, as we build BAM communities.

We embrace the promise that God will bless us so we can be a blessing – in and through business – in our generation and for many generations to come.

That is BAM and the Olive Tree.