God Means Business! Seven Brief Observations on Business as Mission, BAM

1. BAM means being a follower of Jesus. What does Jesus say are the key characteristics of true followers of him? His followers help the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick and those in prison (Matthew 25:31-40). Unemployment is a major underlying cause to malnourishment, starvation, homelessness, disease, limited access to medical treatment, debt and crime. Providing people with jobs helps alleviate and prevent these dire conditions. One may paraphrase Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: “I was jobless and you gave me a job!” Entrepreneurs have a special calling to serve in the marketplace, by doing business “as unto the Lord.”

2. BAM is rooted in scripture and history. God is the original entrepreneur who started with an idea and created a number of good things. We are created in God’s image, to be creative and to create good things. God told Adam and Eve to “till the garden,” to be involved in a value adding process and to live in trustful relationships.

Business is rooted in God’s character and in who we are. The central business activity of providing meaningful and sustainable employment is a demonstration of justice and love and is grounded in the character of God. In history there are many examples of God-fearing men and women who have loved God and served people through business. Abraham was a successful businessman. Jesus worked in a small family business for many years. The honorable woman in Proverbs 31 is a businesswoman. We should learn from mission pioneers like the Nestorians who conducted business along the Silk Road and the Moravian entrepreneurs who had a far-reaching impact. “The Father of Modern Norway”—Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771–1824)—witnessed the transformation of people and communities as he catalyzed a church movement and facilitated an entrepreneurship movement.

3. BAM is a relevant response to needs. Where you find the poorest of the poor, you will often see unemployment ranging from thirty to eighty percent. The name of Jesus is rarely heard in these regions and the rampant unemployment makes people vulnerable to human trafficking; little prospect of decent jobs creates high-risk environments for trafficking and prostitution. These evils and dire needs correlate. We can never have long-term, sustainable and relevant solutions unless we address economic issues and business development. BAM gives an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate the love of God among the least, the lost and the lowliest.

4. BAM has a Kingdom of God purpose and impact. BAM is not just any business activity or job creation scheme. The Russian mafia does business and human trafficking creates jobs. Business as Mission is about real, viable, sustainable and profitable businesses. It has a kingdom of God purpose and impact and it leads to transformation of people and societies spiritually, economically and socially. And it is all done for the greater glory of God.

5. BAM includes the holistic transformation of individuals and societies. Corporate social responsibility considers social and environmental impact of business and also recognizes society at large. The BAM paradigm includes all four bottom lines and also engages the body of Christ among the accountability entities.

6. BAM includes recognising the Body of Christ. We need to tear down the “Pyramid of Christ,” which permeates so much of our thinking, language and actions. We tend to encourage the climbing of the pyramid where “serving God full-time” reaches its climax on the top. The Greek Gnostic thinking values people with “spiritual vocations” and looks down upon people dealing with business. This is not only a heresy; it has also debilitated Christians in business to fulfill their calling as business people. If God has called you to business, do not lower yourself to become a pastor! Your business calling is your highest calling. And if you are called to be a pastor that is your highest calling.

7. BAM is a growing global movement. There are a growing number of national and regional BAM networks and consultations. The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization has acknowledged the biblical imperative and strategic importance of Business as Mission. An increasing number of books and articles (see below) are being published. Churches and mission agencies are developing BAM programs and thousands of business people are moving from merely sitting in church pews and giving money to making a difference around the world in and through business. Perhaps you can be one of them.

Resources for Learning about Business as Mission

Mats Tunehag is a senior associate on Business as Mission for both the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and the World Evangelical Alliance. He has developed several global strategic alliances for Business as Mission.