Where is Further Research Needed and Who Else Should we be Listening To?

The business as mission community is contributing to a wider ‘listening process’ in the global evangelical mission community as part of our connection the Lausanne Movement. Lausanne also asked us:

Where is further research needed? To whom else should we be listening?

We received input from 25 global leaders on theses question especially as it relates to business as mission.

Where is further research needed?

In answer to areas for further research, three broad areas stood out:

1. Mission Strategy
  • Effective church planting and how best to reach unreached peoples today
  • Polycentric mission, mobilising near- or same-culture workers
  • Integral mission strategies, especially enterprise-related
  • Cross-cultural understanding
  • Utilising technology in mission

There are abundant Kingdom resources scattered around the globe, for example, global south billionaires to Christian diaspora communities in least reached nations. These need to be better mapped so we can identify how to capitalize on these resources and where to find additionally needed resources.

With respect to unreached people groups there is much practical research needed to locate Christians and identify those among them who are entrepreneurial. Furthermore, in this context, there is a need to identify the existence of trade and its potential for growth in the short, medium and long terms.

An area where we need research would be in best practices of utilizing technology and social media as instruments of fulfilling the Great Commission. 

The mapping of those least reached, especially those hidden in plain sight among larger groupings, will certainly help business planners assess how to integrate business necessities such as market size, labour pools, supply chains and resources with missional objectives to reach the unreached.

The church should follow and further growing research on how corporate culture is formed and functions, and the possible role of corporate culture in evangelism. St. Francis was attributed as saying, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” Business culture with its daily opportunities for values-based decisions may become a fruitful foundation upon which to disciple all nations, paving the way for the preaching and receiving of the gospel. Research would help us know with more certainty to what extent this is true and the means by which this might occur to best further the Great Commission.

2. Business as Mission Strategy in particular
  • Best practices for BAM, especially for the most challenging contexts
  • Historical and current case studies
  • Franchisable or replicable business models
  • The role of business (and BAM) in creation care
  • Effective engagement and mobilisation of business people
  • Governance, legal and financial transparency and best practice
  • Measuring BAM impact

How to apply BAM model to the most challenging businesses in the global business ecosystem, such as freedom businesses, the migrants, particularly involuntarily and forcibly displaced people, and creation care businesses. These businesses require globally orchestrated support in many areas for their survival let alone success, including research and pooling of resources.

I have not heard much about BAM’s role in Creation Care or addressing the ‘isms’ that are dividing our world.  It is there I know, but these issues don’t seem to rise to the forefront of our talks.  Do we need to focus on and research more about what is going on in these areas?

We have a lot of research on “why”. But, we don’t have much research on “how”. Research on how can also become the backbone of BAM training programs.

It would be helpful if we could better track and communicate how lives are being transformed as a direct result of BAM.

3. Theology
  • Biblical views on womanhood
  • Theology of the Kingdom now and coming
  • Biblical frameworks for business and economics

I do believe that we Christians need to think what the gospel means in full scale and to live out the gospel in order to be a witness. What is rest? How did Jesus make relationship with others? How can we make genuine relationship in family and at work? Many questions ensue.

Melinda Gates proclaimed in The Moment of Lift, “Women around the world who are trying to reshape their faith, who are wresting the interpretation of scripture from the grip of a male monopoly, are doing some of the most heroic work for social justice and economic opportunity in the world today. They’re on the edge of a new frontier.” Theological research of this kind must continue, to free the church from the grip of historical constructs which do not align with the truth of Scripture, and free no less than half the church to lead and participate in the Great Commission as God may call.

If I had another life to live I would likely be interested in research themes such as: Why is the 20th century tension of the interaction between the so-called “social gospel” and evangelism still with us? What does the “here and now” of kingdom theology really mean for believers today?  I would like to have a significant social science approved research demonstrate that Jesus considered that more important than the “not yet” of the kingdom of God.

To whom else should we be listening?

In answer to whom else should we be listening, the following constituencies were mentioned multiple times:

  • The younger generation, especially next generation of entrepreneurs/business people 
  • The people we are trying to reach, including their governments. What are their felt needs? What kind of business solutions are they looking for?
  • Other cultural perspectives, especially non-western/non-white business leaders 
  • God/the Holy Spirit, and those in the church with prophetic or intercessory gifts 
  • The church, especially other traditions and those with experience in workplace ministry
  • Believers in former field nations, potential workers from the global south
  • Business leaders and professionals with some experience of following Jesus in the marketplace 
  • Investors 
  • Christian women leaders, especially in theology and business 

Firstly, entrepreneurs – those tuned into their local community, solving problems – and then prayer warriors and those with a prophetic gift, i.e. those who especially wait on and hear from God.

In the U.S. marketplace leaders of color and in all countries, seek to listen to the voices of the marginalized, or those speaking on their behalf, e.g. ethnic minorities, communities of poverty, etc. 

The 35-40 years old age group who are in the marketplace and passionate about the Kingdom.

Investors. What are they looking for from the BAM community so they will deploy their own personal capital? What’s it going to take to get people to make a move?

Governments in the 10/40 window on what they want with business coming from outside the country.

Listen to people of cross generation and all walks of life, including youth, businessmen and non-Christians.

Christians working beyond traditional evangelization efforts, on the frontlines of freedom and justice. Church history, both to avoid repeating the sins of the past, and to be inspired by redemptive examples. 

Walking down the road wearing a T-shirt “Jesus is the answer” received a response from a passer-by “What is the question?” We need to ask better questions – even from those who we plan to reach.

Collated by Jo Plummer, with thanks to the 25 BAM leaders that contributed input to the Lausanne Movement listening process. This listening process is part of “Lausanne 4”, a multi-year consultation on strategic issues in global mission.

Read more responses from leaders:
>>Part 1: The High and Holy Calling of Business and Breaking the Sacred-Secular Divide
>>Part 2: Reaching the Marginalised and the Skewed Deployment of Resources
>>Part 3: A Holistic Gospel and the Kingdom Coming in the Marketplace
>>Part 4: The Task Still Ahead and Plugging the Resource Gaps
>>Part 5: Promising Breakthroughs & Innovations to Accelerate the Great Commission
>>Part 6: In What Areas is Collaboration Most Critical?


 Jo Plummer is the co-chair of BAM Global and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website and blog.






Where is Further Research Needed and Who Else Should we be Listening To?