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BAM and church

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With the different wiring and  issues facing the mission-oriented 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 categorically right and the other is always wrong. There are a host of issues that make this a poor choice, so let’s put this choice aside for now. Second would be to allow that both have merit and each MOP or BOP should find his or her own way. I have seen cases where this has and is happening, but often with poor results. A third option would be for the church to come alongside the MOP or BOP person and resulting proposed strategy and speak into the conversation, process and strategy. This is, I am convinced, a super healthy way to move forward.

If mission belongs to the church, then BAM is a tool or strategy for the church to use. The church is uniquely positioned to be able to work with the MOP to bring some BOP(s) into a collaborative relationship to be able to speak into strategy and process. On the other side of the scale, the church can bring MOP(s) into a consultative relationship with the BOP person being sent out to provide balance and perspective.

The church that is seeking to take rightful ownership of the commission of Christ can as a healthy body help in addressing strategy in a range of areas including resourcing whether it be expertise, legal counsel, capital fund-raising, business plans, missional living coaching, etc. The church is key in seeing the gospel go forward. If she takes ownership of this responsibility, then she should also prepare to work in a range of ways and strategies including BAM.

As this happens, there will be a slew of new questions to address. At the base level, the church will do well to look to answer the question about her role both if and in BAM as a strategy for her people to reach out to those to whom they have been sent.


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business as mission?

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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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exegesis and a coming out

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Participating in the public reading of Scripture was her “Christian coming out” party. Using the same language as one would to announce a homosexual lifestyle, a Czech woman was declaring her identity with Christ in a story related by Sasha Flek. This was viewed as a huge announcement that this lady was uttering.

In a culture shaped by the Thirty Year War and the resulting dominance of the Catholic church in what is modern day Czech Republic, the confessions were often not heart-felt. Claiming to be Catholic was necessary to avoid hardship at that time according to Flek.

A few centuries later the people usually decided that claiming to be Communists to an invading power allowed these “supporters” to be able to have better benefits in the area of compensation and benefits. Of course to criticize the party or Communism could merit some away time in an austere environment. With these long-standing oppressions, why would someone choose to go against the grain? Why would someone “confess” to something or someone that would bring difficulty and harm on themselves and their family?

The second annual Easter reading of the Bible that Flek had recently finished translating, provided this lady a good opportunity to declare that she was standing with Christ.

In the U.S., we are all aware that the history is radically different. A church culture in the South meant that large numbers of people went to church and were expected to make known their standing with Christ at some time in their first years in the church. The two histories could not be more different at this point. The two cultural outcomes could not be more polarized.

Exegeting the culture in key areas including the history and resulting values are key to formulating an answer to key question #2: what does the gospel look like in this culture? This is one of many topics we will be exploring during our Friday conversations on Upstream’s JetSet.

Categories : social justice
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economics and planting

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It is a common push at the end of the year. Often church leaders are encouraging members to make their contributions by the end of the year in order to get their tax credit. But what if…?

Sitting in a “missional business” that is hotel / hostel / restaurant here in Prague, some interesting questions came up at our table. What would happen to church planting in the U.S. if no tax credits were given to members for contributions? Businessman and JetSet participant Paul Mayfield shared that the normal tax benefit of the average person in the U.S. is a 30% realized return for contributions. If this incentive was removed, would it change the economics of church planting? Further, we discussed what would happen if other charities brought tax benefits to their donors while church contributions did not gain any value beyond itself. For those looking to help others but motivated by tax savings, contributions to nonprofits that were anything but a church would take priority.

Is it possible that assumptions are made about church planting based on economic realities that may fit the exegesis of our tax structure but not the exegesis of our culture? As these tax benefits are not available in most European countries, the question of economics becomes either more or less important. But which is it? Does this lead toward setting up business as mission opportunities, tent-making or other possibilities? AND what would removing or downgrading the economic issues from church or gospel planting do to how we implement in these areas in a current known or future unknown context?

Categories : case study, church
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This is beautiful…enough said.


Categories : video
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launch of themissionbook.com

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Last week The Upstream Collective launched themissionbook.com–a new resource for so much that is mission. It was my privilege to help brainstorm a bit of what this resource could be as we were throwing around ideas for the development of a piece to advance the conversation of missions. The idea we dreamed up and the tool that was born did not match up exactly, but maybe that is a good thing. As collaborators, we are so pleased with what did come out as the still-in-development product. Sure there are still some web tweaks being done to the site (I was told it was done with j-query for any tech geeks out there that care about that stuff) but most importantly it’s a place to join the conversation.

Share your one-page contribution. Comment on the voices that are out there. Feel free to share things you agree or even disagree with via Facebook or Twitter. As a tool for furthering the conversation of missions, we feel this one has all the potential to do just that and it has already started. Having you participate in the exploration and discussion could very well make it a more meaningful conversation.

Categories : missiology
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that money thing

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Over the past months I have spoken with a number of people that are looking to go on mission, advance a church plant or do some humanitarian effort. Many times a primary sticking point is the funding aspect. I am convinced that there are large numbers of people that are eager to invest their lives in a greater cause if only they can pay the bills. In my mind, this presents a number of options including fundraising, doing business as mission (now being referred to by some as business for transformation) and/or pursuing missional living in an existing or future employment opportunity.

With increased interest in finding ways to do what one feels called to, new funding approaches will be essential. In doing this, I believe it will be helpful for individuals and organizations to look for incremental sources of money. This approach would allow for raising a portion of the funds in conjunction with finding other income sources. For example, a person could raise 50% of their funding, take a part-time job that supplies another 40%, and then have investment income fulfilling the remaining 10%. This incremental approach minimizes risk to some extent in that if one source of funding is impacted, still others remain. This means future disruptions are less impacting and easier to overcome. (Of course it is important to remember that this journey remains a faith-walk with tremendous risk that is best placed in the hands of the Faithful One.)

One tool that is just now coming on-line that already has buy-in from a number of very well-known mission leaders is Moolala.com. Similar to some other social network buying sites, this opportunity is unique in that for every purchase someone in your “paymatrix” network makes, you and/or your non-profit can generate 2% of income. With this going out to four levels beyond yourself, there is significant potential to generate a sizable paymatrix network with those that choose to work this approach. For example, if a person were to get 1000 people in their paymatrix, and each of these were to spend $50 per month purchasing deals that they would have already bought at greatly reduced prices, then the monthly incremental income would be $1000.

This is not AmWay as you are not selling anything. However, friends and family would likely be open to saving money especially if in doing so they can help advance your effort to go on mission and/or plant a church. This incremental approach may deserve serious effort especially while this is in its infancy stage in order to generate residual incremental income by encouraging your network to be a part of your paymatrix. If they generate a paymatrix and choose to donate the funds they make from that to your benefit, then all the better. (smile)

If you poke around on the site you will see that there are not any daily deals available right now. These are expected to be going up in the next 30 to 45 days. Now would be an ideal time to let your network become a part of your paymatrix so that when deals do start coming a potential viral spread of interest could help you increase this as an incremental income source.

Click on the link to get started using Moolala as a tool for incremental income as you seek to be about His business.

Categories : missiology, trends
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ethnocentric gospel

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If God’s desire was only for a small, homogenous group to live in obedience to Him, the Old Testament would have been significantly different. For example, no mention or model would be found in Melchizedek. Neither Ruth nor Rahab would play a special role. The Ninevites would be left to their own devices and certain peril. Other altered stories would have included Balaam, Nebuchadnezzar and Darius.

ethnocentricIf His plan was for only a select number from one ethnolinguistic people group in one geographic area to walk in the transforming love of Christ, then the New Testament would be radically altered–even more so than the Old Testament. If God’s desire was not for the nations, then Jesus would have dismissed the woman at the well, the Syro-phoenician woman, the Roman centurion and the thief on the cross. He would not have pointed to a good Samaritan as the hero in the story. The day of Pentecost would not have included God-fearing Jews from every nation. Peter would have had to refuse the invitation of Cornelius. Philip would not have stepped into the chariot with the Egyptian official. Paul would not have written his letters to the churches, as none would be outside of Jerusalem. He never would have gone to the Philippian jailer’s home because he never would have traveled to Philippi as a missionary called and sent out by the church in Antioch. And the church in Antioch would have looked nothing like it did. Jesus would not have spoken to the seven churches in Asia Minor. There would be no record in Revelation of “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne and in front of the lamb” wearing white robes, worshipping God.

These stories and others similar in nature are still with us. They are recorded in the Bible. The reason for this is simple. These stories are key to the plan of God. Removing the above stories would cause the loss of some incredible tales–a huge fish swallowing a man, a talking donkey, a sheet coming out of heaven filled with animals of all kinds, potential jail breaks and so much more. But if these stories were to be removed, it would alter history and eternity forever. The story of redemption would be incomplete. Stories such as that of Rahab and Ruth are more than interesting. The love of God demonstrated to these two ladies from other nations is key to the genealogy of Christ. Following His birth, the Messiah is visited and worshipped by humble, pungent shepherds from nearby and by wealthy dignitaries from the East, possibly from modern day countries like Iraq, Iran or Jordan. Even in the Christmas story God makes clear that He sent Jesus for the entire range of the socioeconomic scale and for the nations. The vast, far-reaching plan of God begins to unfold both prior to and following the coming of the Savior.

(This is an excerpt from beyond myself and even our own city on the Reproducing Churches site.)

Categories : Bible, church, missiology
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key question #1

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At the burning bush, Moses received instruction to go back to Egypt. Jonah learned that he was to go to the city of Nineveh. Philip left a movement of God, compelled to go into  the desert. Paul, unable to go into Asia Minor, made a beeline for Philippi. God sent these men to these select places. The instruction was clear and direct, though each heard Him speak in a unique way.

When the church prepares to do mission, there are several key questions to ask. The first is, “To whom are we sent?” It is important before moving out to know where and to what people the Spirit is sending His people.

The people to whom we are sent may be similar to us like in the situation with Paul and the Philippians. Perhaps there will be some marked differences in language, culture and station such as with Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. It is possible that we may be called to a people that we have disdain for according to the story of Jonah–though it seems a wrong understanding of the heart of God and his resulting disobedience greatly impacted his view of the situation and his fish bait outcome. It is possible that the Spirit will send us back to a people we have left as happens in the story of Moses going back to his own in Egypt.

It is a blessing to serve the sovereign God who, in advance, prepares good works for us to do. He is the one that sends us out. Because of this, before setting out on mission, a people will do well to seek God to learn from him: To whom are we sent?

Categories : missiology
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city church. so much more

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From the beginning of the church in Acts 2, the gospel went out to the nations. After a short period of time, the believers were scattered and the gospel went again to the nations in Acts 8. Undoubtedly, God’s plan for the nations is essential for the city church. Whether a church is the oldest, most traditional church in the community or the newest church plant, it is part of God’s plan to be about taking the gospel to the nations. The city church is blessed with the calling to take the hope of Christ to its community and beyond.


When considering the scope of the call for the city church as she seeks to live sent, it may prove helpful to have thought about what did and did not happen in Scripture. If God’s desire was only for a small, homogenous group to live in obedience to Him, the Old Testament would have been significantly different. For example, no mention or model would be found in Melchizedek. Neither Ruth nor Rahab would play a special role. The Ninevites would be left to their own devices and certain peril. Other altered stories would have included Balaam, Nebuchadnezzar and Darius.

If His plan was for only a select number from one ethnolinguistic people group in one geographic area to walk in the transforming love of Christ, then the New Testament would be radically altered–even more so than the Old Testament. If God’s desire was not for the nations, then Jesus would have dismissed the woman at the well, the Syro-phoenician woman, the Roman centurion and the thief on the cross. He would not have pointed to a good Samaritan as the hero in the story….

(this is the start of a chapter posted on reproducing churches.com’s discussion of City Church. Check out the whole piece and the other contributions on City Church starting on Sept. 22. They are all worthwhile!)

Categories : church, missiology
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