From church planting success to genocide

In just 100 years, this country went from ‘unreached’ to ‘churched’, with approximately 90 percent of the population attending church as members.  It is the ultimate success story in the history of Christian mission – if the success criteria are church planting and church growth.

In just over 100 days, nearly one million citizens (and church members) were killed – by other citizens and church members – in a brutal genocide in the spring of 1994. The country? Rwanda.  It had seen tremendous success in evangelism and church planting but little penetration of the gospel in ethnic relationships – it had people in church but not church in people.

How we define our mission has both short and long term implications. Church planting and growth is not wrong but clearly insufficient as a success criterion.

As we look at sub-Saharan Africa today it has some of the most Christian countries in the world (percentage of Christians), some of the poorest countries in the world and some of the most corrupt countries in the world. What is wrong with this picture? Is this success? Is this in line with our mission as Christians? Is this what God wants?

Our mission and success criteria must include transformation. We want people and societies to be transformed – holistically. The global Business as Mission (BAM) movement is aiming at transformed lives around the world through ethical business with integrity. Sounds grand. But what does it mean?

Transformation: It is about a good and lasting change. And that takes time; we need to have an inter-generational perspective. BAM is an intentional praxis of faith at work in all relationships in and through business. BAM is about practicing business based on ethical principles. It is about following Jesus in the market place to see people and societies transformed.

We also need to give a priority to small & medium size businesses (SME’s).  They are strong transformational agents – not only economically. They are in many ways the backbone of developed economies. SME’s are often missing to a large extent in the poor countries and regions.

Lives: We are all people with physical, social, spiritual, emotional, economical and other needs, operating in a political and cultural context. So transformation must be holistic – for people and societies. This is also what the word ‘integrity’ means – something whole and complete. Our mission is and must be more than evangelism and church planting – we don’t want to create another Rwanda!

Around the World: The BAM movement can never be true to God and our mission if we limit ourselves to a local outlook. We must be a part of God’s centrifugal force, moving out and beyond our immediate comfort zones. To all peoples and nations.

Mats Tunehag