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Triple Bottom Line #2: a BAM business creates jobs

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Last week we began a three-part series on the Triple Bottom Line of Business as Mission (BAM).1  The first bottom line was that every business has a goal of profitability and sustainability.  

The second bottom line is the creation of value, particularly job creation.

Mike Baer, in referencing the kingdom of God, understands that the book of Matthew speaks about the kingdom of God being “not yet,” but it also speaks of it being “here and now.”  In short, Kingdom living is about living out the principles of Jesus in every sector of life, including the workplace.  It demonstrates the integration of our faith with our work.  We bring the kingdom of God “…on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) via business transactions because business creates value and we have the opportunity to create holistic value based on the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, etc.  A business owner in Asia, Pete, says it succinctly, “Everyday on the factory floor is an opportunity for discipleship.”

One of the key values created by business is jobs.  When we think of Jesus being very aware of the social condition of his day and doing something about physical realities such as hunger, danger, illness, and death, we can easily transpose his practical concerns to the concerns of today.

The Gallup Corporation recently surveyed over 150 nations in their renowned World Poll of major issues of life.  They wanted to “…discover the single most dominant thought on most people’s minds….”  Says CEO Jim Clifton, “Six years into our global data collection effort, we may have already found the single most searing, clarifying, helpful, world-altering fact.  What the whole world wants is a good job. 2

Consider the world conditions of today – extreme poverty (30% of the world living on less than $2 a day), unemployment in some countries over 50%, victimization and exploitation, disease (such as the Ebola crisis in West Africa or the Zika outbreak in Brazil), wars on several fronts and persecution.  Job creation will not heal all of this but growing economies creating good jobs brings dignity, opportunity for positive relationships and the ultimate transformation of individuals and communities.  God created humans to work and be productive (Genesis 1:28), to work heartily "as for the Lord and not men" (Colossians 3:23) and “…shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father…” (Matthew 5:16). This all takes place in the marketplace of work.

IBEC consultants, coaches and subject matter experts have valued experience at work because they know it is their “high and holy calling.”  Their success in the marketplace uniquely qualifies them to coach and train entrepreneurial business startups in hard places in the world.  One of the bottom lines for them is job creation.

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Note a few affirmations from the 2004 “Business as Mission Issue Group”, chaired by Mats Tunehag:
  • We believe in following in the footsteps of Jesus, who constantly and consistently met the needs of the people He encountered, thus demonstrating the love of God and the rule of His kingdom.
  • We believe the Holy Spirit empowers all members of the Body of Christ to serve, to meet the real spiritual and physical needs of others, demonstrating the kingdom of God.
  • We believe that God has called and equipped business people to make a Kingdom difference in and through their businesses.
  • We believe the Gospel has the power to transform individuals, communities and societies.  Christians in business should therefore be a part of this holistic transformation through business.
  • We recognize both the dire need for and the importance of business development.  However it is more than just business per se. Business as Mission is about business with a Kingdom of God perspective, purpose and impact.
  • We recognize that there is a need for job creation and for multiplication of businesses all over the world.
  • The real bottom line of Business as Mission is – “for the greater glory of God.”
"The gospel that does not deal with the issues of the day is no gospel at all."  Martin Luther
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1  Sometimes we use the term Kingdom Business which Mike Baer defines as “…a business that is specifically, consciously, clearly and intentionally connected with the establishment of Christ’s kingdom in this world.  In other words, it is directly involved in making disciples of all nations. (Baer, Michael. Business as Mission: The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God, p. 14).

2  Jim Clifton, The Coming Jobs War, p.10.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Triple Bottom Line #1: A BAM business will be profitable and sustainable

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Triple Bottom Line is a guiding force for the Business As Mission (BAM) movement.  This is the first of a 3-part series briefly examining the meaning of each of the three bottom lines that drive BAM businesses, starting with Triple Bottom Line #1:

The goal of a BAM business is to be profitable and sustainable.

For most of the 20th century businesses and MBA programs would answer the question, “What is the goal of your business?” with a simple response, “to maximize shareholder value” or “to make a profit”. 

However, the real goal of business is more importantly to serve others and bring glory to God. The original purposes of God are evidenced in the Creation Mandate that he is a God of enterprise, creativity and production – for His glory.  From the first human couple until now, God intended creation to grow and expand as mankind began to produce food, distribute food, build, manufacture and trade goods.  The fundamental function of creating wealth is intended to be a “high and holy calling”. Van Duzer expresses the purpose of business as two-fold: 

  1. “To provide the community with goods and services that will enable it to flourish” and 
  2. "To provide opportunities for meaningful work that will allow employees to express their God-given creativity.”
Clearly the command of Jesus to “engage in business until I come” (Luke 19:13) carried with it the expectation of a profit.  Business is the only human institution which actually creates wealth.  Education, the Church, and government all consume wealth.  Business creates it! “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who give you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deut. 8:18)

While it is true that profit can be abused as with any good thing, profit is a necessary and important component in adding value, providing good stewardship and multiplying resources as a way of helping people. Profit is that which results from a business which generates value and expands the total economic pie.  “Profit is a sign that others are being served effectively, not that advantage is being taken of them.” 2  Profit is a necessary condition if we are able to continue to provide value to customers.  Profit, however it is not the goal.

In recent years, many business people have come to the conclusion that there is a wider purpose of business.  One of those leaders, John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, puts it this way: "The purpose of business is to create sustainable value for all stakeholders." (See his recent coauthored book, Conscious Capitalism). Mackey and others are focusing on the dignity of all their stakeholders, not just the shareholders.  They want to make a difference, seek a common good, and make the world a better place. This idea is incorporated in the modern trend toward CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility.

Traditionally development agencies, churches and governments have focused on providing aid to poor countries.  While there is a place for aid and disaster relief, aid will never alleviate poverty and these are rarely self-sustaining projects.  When funding dries up or interest declines the “false market” which created dependency is exposed and more problems often develop than were solved.  Only investing in sustainable profitable businesses creates employment and true economic development for poor countries.  Check out the excellent video from Poverty Cure entitled “From Aid to Enterprise.”

As IBEC consultants coach, mentor and contribute their expertise, the goal of profitability and sustainability is Triple Bottom Line #1.  Our goal is that the business can outlast our involvement, be based on Kingdom values and can contribute to the sustainable transformation of individuals, their families and entire communities.

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"Business as Mission is about business with a Kingdom of God perspective, purpose and impact." Business as Mission Issue Group, Lausanne, 2004.

"Managers must convert society’s needs into opportunities for profitable businesses." Peter F. Drucker

"Many assume, wrongly, that a company exists simply to make money…Profit is not the proper end and aim of management – it is what makes all of the proper ends possible." David Packer. Cofounder, Hewlett-Packard.

"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever he does."  Saint Paul.

"I believe the only long-term solution to world poverty is business.  That is because businesses produce goods, and businesses produce jobs. And businesses continue producing goods year after year, and continue providing jobs and paying wages year after year…if we are ever going to see long-term solutions to world poverty, I believe it will come through starting and maintaining productive, profitable businesses." Wayne Grudem – Business for the Glory of God.
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1  Van Duzer, Jeff. Why Business Matters to God, p. 46
2  Ken Eldred. The Integrated Life. p. 45

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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What is Business as Mission?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Many business professionals and church leaders today are hearing of the term “Business as Mission” (BAM). While there are many variances to a perfect definition, I like the expression of J.D. Greear of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC, “Christians in the marketplace today are able to gain access more easily to strategic, unreached places. Globalization, great advancements in technology and urbanization have given the business community nearly universal access.”

Greear reminds us that God has placed in his church the skills necessary to penetrate the most unreached parts of our world – and those skills are business skills. Business people should focus on a two-fold vision, “whatever you are good at, a) do it well for the Glory of God; b) do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God.”

Mats Tunehag, one of the leaders of the BAM movement suggests that Business as Mission (BAM) is simply “legitimate economic activity (business) by a workplace professional which serves as a vehicle for sharing the love of Christ…” He and the Lausanne committees on BAM insist that BAM activities must be profitable and sustainable, create jobs and local wealth; and produce spiritual capital (disciples of Jesus).

Such a definition would encourage one to think that BAM could, should and does take place in every workplace in the world where God’s people in business are faithfully living like Jesus and looking for ways to bring people to know him. And while to a certain extent that is true, BAM over the past 20 years has tended to think in terms of “developing impoverished” countries and unreached areas where Jesus is relatively unknown.

Three propositions may help to justify and explain the Business as Mission movement:

  1. The Sanctity of Work

    It is important that we all have clarity on the biblical divine understanding that God is a God of work, and he intends his people to be workers (Genesis 1). We should not feel guilty or feel like second class Christians when we succeed in business; God expects us to drive for excellence, to be ambitious and to do “all for the glory of God”  (I Cor 10:31). While business and work can temp us to sin, work and business are fundamentally good and provide many opportunities to glorify God (See Business for the Glory of God, W. Grudem).
  2. The Christian at Work

    This proposition suggests that Christians should engage in work like anyone else but live differently from everyone else. Christians work ethically, view their customers differently, love and serve others, seek justice and use their work to serve their communities. In so doing believers become a testimony and draw others to become followers of our Savior.
  3. Work and the Kingdom of God

    The book of Matthew suggests that the kingdom of God is “not yet” (heaven) but also “here and now.” As we create jobs and wealth, we are advancing the kingdom of God which essentially is obedience to the Second Commandment (i.e.to love our neighbors). The Great Commission enjoins us to make disciples of “all peoples.” So the Christian businesses that we develop here in our home neighborhoods represent a transferrable model. We can participate in business startups, franchises, or multinational business efforts abroad in the developing world and all the while live like Jesus. That is Business as Mission.
Here is a quote from a recent memo from a friend who is a Kingdom business entrepreneur in an Asian country: “Upon entering a local office where local authorities facilitate some aspects of our company, I saw my national friend who manages the office. Amidst the hubbub we greeted one another and caught up on personal news. Suddenly my friend asked, “Do you have a divine connection? I’m sensing a positive energy emanating from you and I don’t know what it is.”  Stunned, I replied, “ Well as a matter of fact, I do have a divine connection to Jesus!” I then went on to explain who Jesus is and His presence in my life. He listened intently. Something is happening in my friend’s heart and mind…something we believe that God is doing.”

So Business as Mission is not “business as normal.” Neither is it “missions as normal.” It is living out the commands of Jesus in the workplace: to love our neighbor and make disciples so individuals and communities are transformed – spiritually, economically and socially – for the greater glory of God and the establishment of his church.

Veteran kingdom business owner in Asia, Bill Job says it this way, "The simplest definition of BAM is that it is walking with God at work."  (You will have the opportunity to gain more BAM insights from Bill Job when we introduce IBEC BAM Talk videos later this year; stay tuned here for details.)


Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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The power of a cause

Monday, January 11, 2016

“Any business that just makes a profit is not a good business.”  Henry Ford

I was crossing the country on a long flight from Florida to Seattle recently and I picked up a copy of Fast Company magazine.1  The title is certainly not descriptive of my friends and me but I do enjoy the insights of a younger generation.  The topics often intrigue me.

I find it interesting that innovators and entrepreneurs are driven by a cause, a grand mission – which is far more important to them than the salary or even the prestige.  

Elon Musk is the 44-year old CEO of electric car maker Tesla Motors.  He is challenged by the fact that no American entrepreneur has established a car company since Walter Chrysler did in 1925. Electric cars cannot become inexpensive quickly because they are limited by their batteries which restrict vehicle speed and distance. Says Musk, “…unlike computer chips, which have improved wildly over the past decade, batteries have proved stubbornly resistant to huge jumps in performance and cost efficiency…” But the rise of Tesla has been stunning and it is driven by one guy on a mission.

Musk has a purpose much bigger than an efficient car. “The goal has not been: Let’s make cars.” Musk says, “The goal has been:  We need to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy.”  He has made it his mission to rid the world of fossil fuels and save the planet.

While Musk’s ability to be as successful with this mission as he has been with EBay, Solar City and Tesla is still unknown, but the point is that he represents a creative generation that wants to make a difference. The prime motivator is entrepreneurship and innovation rather than traditional financial success.  In the words of the editor of Fast Company, “Mission will Trump Money” for the next generation of workers. Having a purpose associated with work and being engaged in a job which brings purpose will be paramount.

Today I received a letter from a couple running a business in a large Asian city.  She was an employee of mine before she married Rick.  The letter showed a photo of seven women who had been rescued from life in the brothel.  Their food business has been so successful that several are being prepared for management; expansion plans are in the works. “We want to see more women leave the sex-trade in 2016. We want to create more jobs and revenue…” says Rick.

Jessica Honegger, founder of Noonday Collection ($12 million in sales in 2014) is on a mission2.  In reference to her fast-growing company (ranking 3rd on Inc’s list of fastest-growing companies led by women) she says, “There are really talented people living in resource-poor areas of the world, and all they need is access to a marketplace.  And I’m going to start something for them.”  Her purpose is to create market access to underrepresented people. 

Musk has a purpose; Honegger has a purpose; my friends in Asia have a purpose.  They work for a cause.  And Business as Mission is named for a reason. Our businesses have a mission. And we are on a missionto change lives – to transform communities.  

1 Kate Shellnut, “Where Fashion Statement Meets Mission Statement,” Christianity Today. December (2015): 38-39.
2  MaxChafkin, “The Issue with Existing Batteries is that they Suck,”  Fast Company  201 (Dec 2015/Jan 2016):  110-116, 139-140.


Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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