Business as Mission (BAM) – 12 key facets


Business as Mission Global Think Tank logo

If you’re interested in the new global movement of “Business as Mission,” Mats Tunehag is your guy. He is Senior Associate on Business as Mission for both the Lausanne Movement and for the World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission, and founder and co-leader of the first global think tank on Business as Mission (now in its second multi-year session). Recently on his blog, and re-posted on the Bam Think Tank blog, Mats gave us a pithy but penetrating run-down of 12 dimensions of BAM.

In case you haven’t run across the term before, before I share a summary of Tunehag’s piece, here is how BAM is defined at http://www.businessasmission.com:

‘Business as mission’ is a contemporary term describing the integration of business goals and the call to the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. It is an answer to the prayer ‘May Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven’, as people and communities are positively transformed through for-profit business activities.

The idea of integration is important, this is not ‘ministry’ tacked onto business for convenience or business tacked onto ministry.  Instead the mission is outworked in and through the business, through its activities, through the products and services and through relationships. The business itself and life in business for those involved becomes the means of carrying the good news of Jesus through word and deed to the ‘ends of the earth’.

Business has the potential to generate new wealth through a combination of creativity, risk and work. A profitable and sustainable business is able to create new jobs, drive new innovations and increase resources for society. Business can provide goods and services that are needed in a community and it is established on a wide network of relationships.

These activities, products and relationships are integral to business and part of the God-given potential of business to transform society and glorify Him. Business as mission leverages this potential of business as a force for good in the world. It can address spiritual needs hand in hand with social, economic and environmental needs.

Addressing these needs might include:

  • Creating jobs and providing dignified work for poor or marginalised communities
  • Introducing essential services/products into a community, profitably
  • Modeling the wise use of resources and practicing good environmental stewardship
  • Transferring skills and training, spinning off new businesses, encouraging entrepreneurship
  • Establishing a credible role in the community, having a respected and influential voice in society
  • Modeling biblical principles and business ethics
  • Being a witness to Jesus in word and deed in the context of everyday life
  • Discipling through real-life situations and problems
  • Strengthening the local church, helping to establish new church plants or providing economic stability for believers.

Through business we can intentionally tackle poverty, increase quality of life, bring positive social change and carry with us the message of eternal hope.

Business as mission is a concept that can and should be applied everywhere, but the business as mission movement has a special concern for people and places where there are dire economic, social, environmental and spiritual needs.

Now back to Tunehag’s reflections:

BAM is . . . a growing global movement of Christians in the market place asking: How can we shape business to serve people, align with God’s purposes, be good stewards of the planet and make a profit? . . . Let me give 12 brief examples. The list could be made longer, but these 12 will hopefully show that Business as Mission is not just doing business with a touch of “churchianity.”

Now just the list with brief tags; for the fuller explanations of each point, see the whole article here.

1. Business as Justice

To pursue honest business and care for staff is Business as Justice. To treat customers and suppliers well is also a part of this God honoring pursuit. Business as Justice includes fighting corruption and bribery.

2. Business as True Religion

True worship is to take care of widows and orphans. (James 1:27) These are two vulnerable groups, who often are exploited in the market place today. . . . Who will offer orphans and widows a future; give them jobs with dignity, so they can support themselves and others? That would be Business as True Religion.

3. Business as Shalom

Shalom is a Biblical concept of good and harmonious relationships. . . . Business is so much about relationships, with staff, colleagues, peers, customers, clients, suppliers, family, community, tax authorities, and so forth. How can we as Christians in business strive towards Shalom; Business as Shalom?

4. Business as Stewardship

God has given some people strong entrepreneurial gifts. They can be used for God and for the common good through business. It is the same with managerial gifts or gifts of bookkeeping or sales. We should encourage people with business skills to be good stewards – Business as Stewardship.

5. Business as Servant Leadership

Jesus came to serve. He was an example of good and godly leadership. .. . . The key underlying principle is to serve people, communities, nations, and God. We are too often reminded about the lack of good leadership in the business world. Business as Servant Leadership is more than needed.

6. Business as Human Dignity

Every person on this planet is created in God’s image. We all have value and dignity linked to the Creator. . . . It is not a sin to be unemployed, but unemployment and the inability to work and support oneself and family is a consequence of the fall. It is a loss of human dignity. Putting people to work, providing jobs with dignity, is a godly act – it is Business as Human Dignity.

7. Business as Reconciliation

The Apostle Paul writes that we are agents of reconciliation. . . . Can businesses provide a forum for reconciliation? Can business people bridge ethnic and religious divides? . . . As God’s ambassadors, we can be business people on a mission to do Business as Reconciliation.

8. Business as Creation Care

During the creation days God did a daily evaluation, he exercised quality control on the products he produced. His verdict was “these are good”. He has entrusted us to be stewards also of creation. . . . The importance of environmentally friendly businesses is included in the triple bottom line, striving to have a positive impact economically, socially and environmentally.  (Profit, people, planet) . . . Business as Creation care is essential.

9. Business as Loving Your Neighbor

The 2nd scriptural mandate is the great commandment and includes to “love your neighbor as yourself”. We know that business can and should serve people and meet various needs. For example: Unemployment is a major underlying cause to malnourishment and starvation, homelessness, human trafficking, disease and limited access to medical treatment, as well as to debt and crime. Providing people with jobs is alleviating and preventing these dire conditions. . . .  For example, the Quakers in England and Hans Nielsen Hauge in Norway were agents of holistic transformation through business already a few hundred years ago. They did Business as Loving Your Neighbor.

10. Business as Great Commission

The 3rd Biblical mandate is the global centrifugal thrust: to all peoples, to all nations. This is a major theme in the global BAM movement. How can we serve in and through business, empowered by the Holy Spirit, “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. . . . We want to see the Kingdom of God demonstrated among all peoples. It is Business as Great Commission.

11. Business as Body of Christ

God calls and equips some people to business. We need to affirm and encourage business people to exercise their calling with professionalism, excellence and integrity. Martin Luther puts it this way: “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.” (An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility)

12. Business as Glorifying God

BAM is the acronym for Business as Mission. Another relevant acronym is AMDG. The ultimate bottom line of Business as Mission is AMDG – ad maiorem Dei gloriam – for the greater glory of God.

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