Staying Mission True: Business as Mission Looking Forward

by Mats Tunehag

Part 3 of a 3 part series on Business as Mission: Roots, Scope & Future. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

BHAGs: Big Hairy Audacious Goals

We have briefly reviewed the BAM concept’s historical roots, and painted a picture, albeit incomplete, of the scope and nature of the global BAM movement. Now, let’s look ahead. What are some of the challenges facing us?

Over the years and through the global conversations we’ve had, three major challenges have been identified. We call them BHAGs, these are major issues that can only be dealt with if we continue to stay on course and grow the strength of the movement. These are macro issues, which force us to think and act intergenerationally, and to intentionally build an eco-system to optimize holistic impact. They will not be achieved by one company, organization or network alone, but through collaborative effort.

Let me briefly describe them, in no particular order.

1. Align Views of Business with Biblical Principles

BAM is not a technique, but a worldview and a lifestyle. Or as BAM Global puts it: “Business as mission is not simply a method or strategy; it encompasses a worldview and business praxis based on biblical principles and the church’s teaching.”[1]

The sacred-secular divide has been an ongoing issue throughout the history of the church. But Pope John Paul II clearly states: “There cannot be two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand, the so-called “spiritual” life, with its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called “secular” life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social relationships, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture. … This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age.”[2]

Back to BAM Global’s BHAG statement:

“Thus, we want to change the thinking of the global church on business. BAM Global will positively engage with leaders in business, church, missions and academia to influence attitudes about business, wealth creation, work, and economics, and affirm business as a God-given gift and calling. Business as mission is about realising this new paradigm in the marketplace. …

In the words of the Business as Mission Manifesto:

We call upon the church world wide to identify, affirm, pray for, commission and release business people and entrepreneurs to exercise their gifts and calling as business people in the world – among all peoples and to the ends of the earth.

We call upon business people globally to receive this affirmation and to consider how their gifts and experience might be used to help meet the world’s most pressing spiritual and physical needs through Business as Mission.

2. Creating Critical Mass

We thank God for the exponential growth of the BAM movement in our generation. We see more and bigger BAM businesses, and various supporting initiatives in a growing ecosystem. But we need to work towards a critical mass, to reach a tipping point, for macro transformation on an intergenerational scale.[3]

The BAM Global BHAGs again:

“Reach a tipping point for macro impact through BAM businesses: The global BAM movement has grown rapidly in the last 20-plus years. There are now thousands of BAM businesses, and countless BAM-related initiatives in businesses, churches, missions and academia. … However, now we need to go further, to build on this growth and better ‘connect the dots’ of BAM to enable greater impact. Transformation on a macro level is yet to emerge; on cultures, industries, cities and nations. To create momentum for macro transformation we need to scale up, multiply and reach a critical mass of business as mission initiatives in cities, nations and industries. … BAM Global will facilitate communication, connection and collaboration among BAM leaders and practitioners. BAM Global will nurture networks and communities focused around industries, geographical areas and special interests. We will also provide forums, tools, resources and case studies that support the growth of the BAM ecosystem as whole.”

3. Developing BAM Solutions to Global Issues

Businesses are strong transformational agents, and have a good track record of enabling humanity to flourish.

“The biggest lift out of poverty in the history of mankind has taken place in our generation. This has happened not through aid but trade – through businesses – especially small and medium sized companies. Financial wealth has been created through business, but so has physical wealth (health, medicines, etc.), cultural wealth (books, theatres, museums, etc.), and many other kinds of wealth. Wealth creation through business and job creation has been and continues to be a key driver for welcome progress in society. …

BAM Global focuses attention on BAM solutions to strategic global issues on every continent. These issues are global and transnational, and they affect nations and peoples around the world. As a global BAM movement, we are addressing some of these challenges, but we need further reflection and action. Thus, BAM Global focuses on strategic issues such as:

Unreached peoples – the role of business in bringing the whole gospel to the whole world.

Poverty – the need for job creation and providing essential goods and services.

Slavery – the role of business in prevention and restoration of victims of human trafficking.

Corruption – encouraging Christian business leaders as they model and multiply ethical business practices.

Creation care – the opportunity for businesses to take a lead in good stewardship of earth’s resources, and to innovate and find business solutions to environmental issues.

Staying Mission True

The BHAG’s above are external challenges. As a movement we also have an internal issue we need to constantly be aware of and always address: how to avoid mission drift and stay mission true.

No organization or church plan for mission drift. It happens by default if you fail to have systems to stay mission true. Historical examples abound, and I strongly recommend the book Mission Drift. Money and the wrong people are often two factors which cause organizations to drift from intended mission and values.

No organization or movement is immune from the risk of mission drift, and it applies also to the global BAM movement. This brief text on BAM, its roots, scope and future, does not allow a lengthy elaboration on the subject. But a particular danger is that the Great Commission is downplayed, neglected or lost. As a movement, and as an SMO, we can only exercise what I call “gentle quality control” based on relationships and ongoing conversations. If we lose the global thrust – to all peoples, and the aim of making Christ known and God glorified – then we have lost the plot.

Stay Rooted and Be Tenacious

It can take up to 25 years before an olive tree produces olives that can be eaten. But once it starts bearing fruit, it can produce olives for 2000 years or more. Olive trees are an example of intergenerational blessings.

The modern BAM movement is still young; we are in some ways still within the first 25 years of the life of an olive tree.[4] We do see some fruit, but are eagerly awaiting more. But we need to nurture and care for the BAM olive tree in these early days of the movement. We want to build a movement that can bring good and lasting transformation, and we know it takes time. But we need tenacity, and we must hold onto our vision and mission, and maintain our values, as we build BAM communities around the globe.

Our worldview and business practice must be thoroughly infused and constantly informed by a few millenniums worth of Judeo-Christian thought.[5] BAM and faith driven entrepreneurship did not start with us, even though it is experiencing a global surge in our generation. But it will only have a lasting impact if we are deeply rooted for the future.

We embrace the promise that God will bless us so we can be a blessing – in and through business – in our generation and for many generations to come.

All for the greater glory of God – Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

 

Mats Tunehag is a senior global ambassador for BAM and has worked in over half the countries of the world. He is the chairman of BAM Global and contributes to TransformationalSME.org. Visit MatsTunehag.com for BAM resources in 23 languages.

 

 

Endnotes

[1] See https://bamglobal.org/about/ and https://www.bamglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/BAM-Global-BHAGs.pdf

[2] Christifideles Laici: The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and the World: Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II to bishops, priests, deacons, women, and men, religious and all the lay faithful (December 30, 1988)

[3] Helpful report by Deloitte about scaling for impact and building ecosystems. https://www2.deloitte.com/bg/en/pages/public-sector/articles/beyond-the-pioneer.html

[4] To learn more about the olive tree, and lessons learned from other movements of societal transformation, see article ‘BAM & the Olive Tree’: http://matstunehag.com/2013/05/08/bam-the-olive-tree/

[5] All truth is God’s truth! We mustn’t be afraid of or instinctively reject statements just because they come from sources we are less familiar with or skeptical to.

 

 

Staying Mission True: Business as Mission Looking Forward