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One can identify 3 essential activities which have helped to catalyze and grow the global Business as Mission (BAM) movement: 1. Developing the concept,  2. Spreading the concept and 3. Applying the concept.

Of course one cannot credit just one book, event, person or organisation with the current interest in Business as Mission amongst Christians today. BAM is a Biblical concept and thus as old as the foundational stories of creation. It is based on theology and anthropology; who God is and what he does, and who we are as human beings and what we are called to do. Good and godly principles of work and value added processes are found in the first chapters of the book of Genesis. God has used women and men throughout history to serve God and nations in and through business.

Developing and Spreading the Concept
Nevertheless, in our time there is a new growing global movement of people, organisations, churches and businesses who are understanding and embracing Business as Mission (or ‘BAM’) as an idea. Consultation work on Business as Mission, including a Global Think Tank on BAM under the auspices of the Lausanne Movement in 2004, has helped with the assessment of BAM practices and have been key developing our understanding. (You’ll find the Lausanne BAM Paper 2004 under ‘Further Reading’.) Since then the number of books and organisations focused on BAM has multiplied.

Applying the Concept
Although the number of BAM businesses in the Arab world and Asia have been growing steadily, this growth has been relatively slow. There are many more who accept the business as mission concept than those who are actually applying it.  Of course there will be some natural time lag between understanding and action and not all who hear about BAM will be cut out for business as mission practice. But even allowing for this, there is still much more ‘BAM talk’ out there than BAMers taking up the challenge of starting and developing BAM companies. How do we bridge that gap?

I have observed in the global BAM movement since the mid-90s, that many pioneering and gifted entrepreneurs have started and developed successful BAM businesses. There have also been many failures, often related to the wrong people trying to do the right thing. But I don’t believe that’s the end of the story.

High and Medium Level Entrepreneurs
In any given context there are more medium-level entrepreneurs than high-level entrepreneurs. There are just a few Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Ingvar Kamprads (IKEA) who can start from scratch and build big. There are others who can start with an idea and develop a growing business in the small to medium size range.

But how are we to tap into the many more medium-level entrepreneurial people who also are good managers, but probably won’t start from nothing?  People in this category can often run a franchise successfully, a McDonalds, a Starbucks, a Chick-fil-A, etc… These are businesses ‘in a box’ so to speak. Not quite as simple as unpack, read the manual and go… but nor are they as difficult or high risk or demanding as starting something from nothing.

BAM in a Box
I recently met a fellow BAMer who has a background in franchising in the US. Now based in the Middle East, he told me about a recent gathering in that Region that consisted mostly of aspiring BAMers. They were enthusiastic, but had little or no prospect of succeeding.

Are we missing something in BAM because we are assuming everybody can start from scratch? Are we missing an opportunity to tap into this pool of committed people because we don’t have a ‘BAM in a Box’ to offer? Could these people become good BAMers if there were franchising options? Many people are medium-level entrepreneurs, medium risk takers and good managers. These are good qualifications for franchise operators.

BAM in a Box is also worth exploring and pursuing as we deal with human trafficking. Regions with high unemployment are high risk areas for human trafficking and unemployment makes people vulnerable to traffickers’ cunning schemes.

Rescuing people out of trafficking and prostitution is insufficient unless there is a job with dignity at the other end. Thus BAM in a Box can be one answer to scalable job creation measures both in prevention of human trafficking and restoration of its victims.

The spiritual, social, demographic and economic challenges of the Arab world and Asia are enormous and growing. How can we begin to meet the many needs there?

BAM in a Box could potentially engage more people in applying BAM. That would mean more opportunities to serve people and nations by providing employment and good services and products, and so on.

Global conversations are underway on business as mission and franchising. We need to move further. Are you an entrepreneur who can help develop BAM in a Box?

(This article was originally published in e.zine, a quarterly magazine for the business as mission movement. The September issue has more articles dealing with BAM in a Box)

PS. Under ‘Further Reading’ you’ll find a three page memo on BAM in a Box which I wrote in May; it elaborates further on the issue. There is also a Korean translation of the article.

3 Responses to “BAM in a Box: Accelerating the Impact of Business as Mission”

  1. Dan LeVan says:

    Great article… If you are interested in franchising and missions, I and my associate represent approximately 250-300 franchises. We provide coaching services to those interested in BAM free of charge and it we see the potential for success, we will also invest in the ministry. Why? We are Kingdom building ourselves and love our Lord and Savior!
    To contact me:
    DLeVan@ESourceCoach.com
    770-573-4910 (leave a message as I travel extensively)
    http://www.TheESource.com/DLeVan

  2. Mats,
    Thank you for being a catylyst to expand the band width of BAM.
    BAM is a strategic accelerator for completion of the unfinished Commissioned task.
    Here is my read of the Kairos moment in history:
    Optimizing Business As Ministry
    Imagine a divine appointment and anointed connection that could leverage the business is ministry vision and models that have been established around the world over the past decade. The connection for acceleration is already in progress. God is raising up an army of new business leaders to forge a future with hope for the unemployed and at risk populations around the world.

    The convergence of business leaders accepting the challenge is exploding. They are doing business for a higher purpose are doing well while doing good. As followers of Christ they are charged to take dominion and speed the Day of the Lord. They strategically are deploying in this time of need and opportunity and are making a world of difference.

    There is a revolutionary transformation and motivation when business people discover that they are valued and see their role as strategic to completing the unfinished Commissioned task. They are regarded by the Lord as priests in the marketplace to capture the wealth of the wicked for righteous purposes and to be the accelerators of getting the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

    Business development has not been viewed historically by the Church as an important ministry activity. As a result we have not yet fully seen the business dynamic and power harnessed to transform families, villages, cities and nations. The capacity of the Church in developing nations to be self supporting and have the joy of becoming sending agencies can be greatly enhanced with enterprises that create wealth and livelihoods for a lifetime.

    Marketplace believers are forming business partners, at home and abroad that model and share the love of Christ and advance His purposes. These businesses are multiplying capacity to equip and deploy marketplace priests to every nation including the world’s poor, the unemployed, and unreached people groups.

    The rising tide of proven business leaders are multiplying business partnerships, equipping business entrepreneurs to leverage their business resources and harness their talent and treasure for optimal job creation and Kingdom acceleration. The global unemployment and unrest provide the unique time for optimizing business/ministry development that can enhance learning and provide sustainability for at-risk families and ministries.

    The new business/ministry marketplace leaders speak with authority based on Biblical mandates, proven business experience and passion to further develop learning and business partnerships that can optimize stewardship for all. This is the core business of regenerated marketplace priests. The key is equipping, deploying and coaching business people and developing partnerships that meet all the four Biblical mandates of: first serving the household of faith; speeding the Day of the Lord; multiplying the Lord’s resources and teaching others to teach others. To help God’s people to help themselves to develop their full learning and economic God-given potential is to accelerate the work of Christ. This is stewardship at its best. We should settle for nothing less.

    http://www.providenceinternational.org/

    Robert Lincoln “Bud” Hancock is the author of Designed for a Purpose, a counselor/coach to business people, ministers and laypeople. He was formation consultant to the founder of Opportunity International, former Executive Director of Opportunity International, co-founder and former CEO of Enterprise Development International (now endPoverty.org); founder and chairman of Providence International Foundation, Set Free Services, Inc. and President of Stewardship Trust. His passion is business/ministry synergy development. He was a White House appointee to the Senior Executive Service and served in the Reagan Administration. http://www.endpovertyzone.org/

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