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business as mission?


There is a rising interest and practice in the use of business to do mission. With this comes both new opportunities and new challenges. As I have been involved in this some over the years in a couple different iterations, I thought it would be helpful to begin writing on the topic here from time to time. Following are some revised notes from a chat I facilitated last month with Skybridge Community. The follow-up post will deal with the church’s role in business as mission. While this would not normally be a first post on BAM stuff without laying more groundwork, I have promised to get this up for use by a church I am currently in consultation with on the topic. Of course, we can always go backward in the future…blogs are fluid!
There is, I believe, a distinct difference between mission-oriented people (MOP) that are seeking to use business and business-oriented people (BOP) that are seeking to be on mission. When the MOP speaks of business as mission (BAM), they are usually talking about a platform. For the BOP, when speaking about the business aspect of BAM, they are usually thinking more in terms of a profitable, self-sustaining business model. Both of these have value. At the same time, both wirings come with some difficulties (more on this another time).

Most people will be able to self-identify quickly as being either a MOP or a BOP. Some natural ways to determine this would deal with whether someone is more comfortable developing a business plan or a ministry plan. Are they more comfortable interpreting financial statements or exegeting culture? Is reading business books and magazines more or less desirable than reading Christian literature? Does their conversation tend toward business or church models? Generally, a person will lean in one direction or the other.

The mission-oriented person (MOP) and the business-oriented person (BOP) will naturally have different questions and face different challenges.

Common questions and challenges for the MOP:
– What are opportunities to fund the mission effort?
– How can I get into meaningful relationships with non-believing nationals?
– How do I gain experience / credibility in business?
– How should I pursue / maintain excellence / professionalism?
– How much time do I have to spend on business type activities?

Common questions and challenges for the BOP:
– Where can I find good workers and legal structure to expand my business or outsource parts of my current business?
– What job / business model exists or is possible that fits my giftings and context?
– How do I balance work and mission?
– How can I practically be about the mission?
– How can I fully engage culture / be a learner?

Next BAM post: BAM and church

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  1. Grady Bauer says:

    Excellent first look at business as mission. I had never really thought about the two different approaches and I’m really looking forward to more posts on this.

  2. almost says:

    Thanks Grady. I am convinced that the different starting points are the reason for so many different agendas when it comes to BAM and lots of conversation that is understood differently by both types. Using different working definitions for shared terminology leads to some challenges.

  3. […] person (MOP) and the business-oriented person (BOP), there are several options for how to be about business as mission (BAM). The first option is to determine that one type of individual and resulting strategy is […]

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