Business as Mission
Business not only creates valuable goods and services, but we’re creating employment for people that allows them to have a whole different sense of who they are, what their purpose is, and what their hope is for the future. And the social implications of that are just enormous
- C. Neal Johnson
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Juan José Daboub on Using our God-Given Talents
There is one parable in the Bible that I really love and I think captures part of what I am trying to say, and that’s the Parable of the Talents. You know, we all were given certain gifts by God. It is our job to multiply them.More from Juan José Daboub
Doug Seebeck on Faith-Based Business
Business people of faith in a competitive environment can be more Christ-like, more servant-like than the church that assumes it’s that way because it has that mission.” And there’s something about a competitive environment that improves quality and service. So this servant-hood and competitiveness to serve better, they go hand in hand.More from Doug Seebeck
Eva Muraya on the Social Effects of Business
If more families in any community are engaged directly in business or benefit as a supplement to business having been created, then you find that people are happier. There’s social cohesion; societies are more amiable.More from Eva Muraya
Eva Muraya on the Impact of a Business
I think the most sustainable way is for opportunity to be created, so that people can engage in enterprise… If you had employed five people, if your business grows, then you will then employ twelve and eighteen and thirty, and a hundred. It’s happened in my business experience. A hundred families are being supported by Color Creations to date, directly. I haven’t even begun to talk about the families supported by the creditors and suppliers that I work with, or the other stakeholders in my business. That’s just one business.More from Eva Muraya
John Armstrong on Work
In the narrative of creation, work is not bad, work is not punishment…. When you read the narrative, you will see that work was the gift of God; that He, God, is a worker. He’s a creator. And he put man on the earth to be the steward to cultivate, to create, to be, as it were, a co-creator, even, with God.More from John Armstrong
C. Neal Johnson on Loving One’s Neighbor Through One’s Vocation
When Jesus was asked as to what the greatest commandment was, he said to love the Lord, but he said, “Like unto that is to love your neighbor,” so you’ve got the “love God” and “love other people.” And the primary way we love other people is through our vocations.More from C. Neal Johnson
C. Neal Johnson on the Integration of Faith in Business
The internal integration of faith in the business is where we as Christians try to live out a gospel 24/7. We take Biblical principles and we bring them into the management of the business – what I call management style evangelism in which the way we deal with our people, the way we deal with our employees, their families, with the suppliers we deal with, the vendors, with our clients and our customers – everything there should reflect the love of Jesus, reflect excellence that our Lord called us to, that we are accountable to in the end.More from C. Neal Johnson
C. Neal Johnson on Work as a Blessing
I see work as a blessing to us. I had a chance to retire one time. I tried it and I found that I absolutely was bored silly. I thought, “Am I just going to hit the little white ball around and golf on the golf course for the rest of my life? Is this all that I was created for? Is this all the meaning I can have out of life?” No, I get my meaning out of life by working, by relating to others, by creating, pouring myself into other people, and I do that through my family, I do that through my business. I do that by giving to my students, pouring my life into them and my business, pouring my life into my employees and into my customers, and that to me is where joy comes from. It’s a fulfilled life, it’s an exciting life and quite frankly, it couldn’t be that good, and not be of the Lord.More from C. Neal Johnson
C. Neal Johnson on Handouts vs. Paychecks
It’s easier to write a check than it is to give of yourself.… All too often that’s what the people in the pews have done and the churches have told us, that the NGOs have told us – that’s all they need, they want our money ... But when you go to find people in these countries, and they don’t have jobs and you realize what they need is not just a check, but they need a job, they need meaningful work. God made us creative, he made us to work—what they need is the kind of dignity that comes with a paycheck that says, ‘Somebody values my services, somebody values my life, and I have dignity.’More from C. Neal Johnson
C. Neal Johnson on the Impact of a Job
One of the problems we saw in Kazakhstan when I was on the mission field there was that the people didn’t have jobs. The men were out, they didn’t think well of themselves so what did they do? They turned to the bottle; alcoholism problems were really rampant. They’re angry, they’re frustrated, they have no hope in life, and they don’t see any value in their life. But you take that same person, you give them a job, you give them something meaningful, and it can totally change their attitude toward life and gives them hope, gives them promise … So business not only creates valuable goods and services, but we’re creating employment for people that allows them to have a whole different sense of who they are, what their purpose is, and what their hope is for the future. And the social implications of that are just enormous.More from C. Neal Johnson
Rev. Robert A. Sirico on the Benefit of Business
The argument has been made that global capitalism, or the expansion of free markets, by its nature hurts the poor, and I think that is a seriously untutored idea. The way in which people rise out of poverty is not through state-to-state aid, not at the generosity or behest of bureaucrats, no matter how well intended, no matter how good personally these people may be. But it’s through the opportunities that people have in their families, in their localities, to exchange value, to be involved in business. Business is the normative way in which people rise out of poverty, not state-to-state aid, not the largess of politicians and bureaucrats.More from Rev. Robert A. Sirico
Malik Fal on Business Promotes Transformation
When communities receive trucks of United Nation aid… it only goes so far for so long. It’s when you have a local business that’s striving, that’s employing people, that’s enabling employees to send their kids to school to change their habitat, to get the health benefits and so on. This is what really transforms communities.More from Malik Fal
What is Business as Mission?
C. Neal Johnson defines business as mission (BAM)* as “a for-profit commercial business venture that is Christian led, intentionally devoted to being used as an instrument of God’s mission to the world (missio dei), and is operated in a cross-cultural environment, either domestic or international.”
Such business enterprise has the potential to generate new wealth and resources in developing countries through a combination of creativity, risk and work, to provide important goods and services, and to build networks of human relationships. These natural fruits of honest, competent business activity also provide opportunities for a broad range of mission activities, addressing spiritual needs hand in hand with social, economic and environmental needs.
Table of Contents
- What is Business as Mission?
- Business as Missions vs. Tentmaker Missions
- Business as a Mission – Objectives of the BAM Entrepreneur
Business as Missions vs. Tentmaker Missions
The business-as-mission entrepreneur is related to but distinct from the “tentmaker” missionary. Both are self-supported, and both involve representing Christ in the workplace. However, the primary reason the tentmaker missionary takes a paying job in the mission field is to pay for his mission work, whereas the business venture that epitomizes BAM serves as the primary context for the mission witness.
In business as mission, the mission is worked out in and through the business, through its activities, through the products and services, and through relationships created and nurtured in building and doing business. The businesses themselves, and daily life in these businesses, become the channels for embodying and communicating the good news of Jesus to “all nations.”
Johnson emphasizes that it isn’t a simple matter of one approach being superior to the other. For some considering self-supported mission work, the tentmaker model will best fit their talents and opportunities. For others (as in the case of Christians with entrepreneurial talent and experience) the business-as-mission model may afford the greatest opportunities for spreading the Gospel and advancing the kingdom.
Business as a Mission – Objectives of the BAM Entrepreneur
- Create jobs and provide dignified work for poor or marginalized communities.
- Profitably introduce essential goods or services into an impoverished community.
- Model good environmental stewardship, including the wise use of natural resources.
- Transfer skills and training, spinning off new businesses and encouraging entrepreneurship.
- Through skilled and honest business leadership, become a respected and influential voice in the community.
- Model biblical principles and sound business ethics.
- Become a witness of Jesus in word and deed in the context of everyday life.
- Disciple newer Christians through the organic relationships arising from business activity.
- Strengthen the local church, helping to establish new church plants or providing economic stability for believers.
- Use some of the business’s profits to fund community or church projects
The Business as Mission website concludes its summary of BAM this way:
Business has tremendous potential as a force for good, to tackle poverty, to stimulate local economies, to bring social and environment improvements and to carry the message of eternal hope to people and places which are often otherwise beyond reach. And because a profitable business is self-sustaining, it can help to bring about sustainable social, economic, environmental and spiritual transformation.
* Much of the material above, including some of the specific language, is taken with permission from the Business as Mission website’s Introduction and FAQs.
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