Business as Mission articulates its value proposition with 4 bottom lines, often called the Quadruple Bottom Line. In simplest terminology, they are Profit, People, Purpose, and Planet which incorporates the raison d’être of BAM – businesses are profit-making, job creating, disciple making, and creation caring. What does this final one mean for BAM businesses?
I find it interesting and sad that there is actual controversy on the subject of the Care of Creation. I have read articulate reminders that God expects his followers to care for His creation as part of an integrated theology.1 On the other hand, I just read an author who proposes that “Creation care” is the Left’s most recent attempt to fool right-leaning voters”2
Philosopher and theologian Frances Schaeffer3 suggested fifty years ago that man was to use the earth and its abundance of resources to satisfy his physical needs, but he was also to care for the earth and its creatures as a wise and Godly steward. In more recent years, the Lausanne Movement has studied and presented an excellent articulation of creation care, and the BAM Global team has brought the Biblical understanding into the context of modern business.
The BAM Global report suggests, “Along with the spiritual, financial, and social bottom line, the environmental bottom line is an integral measure of a God-centered successful business. The work of wealth creators includes sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus, improving the financial wellbeing of society and the staff within their companies, providing the dignity of work and the stability that ensues from meaningful long-term employment, developing a society where we love each other as we love ourselves, and providing the clean energy, water, air, and land on which we live. The wealth creator acknowledges this inextricably linked web of relationship with Christ, society and creation4.”
It may be helpful to look at the subject of Creation care (or environmental stewardship) by using a continuum of two contrasting perspectives, the dominance model having some resemblance to the prevailing modality for the last century or so, and the stewardship model as God’s intended model for all time, with some potential for use as a guide for the future. No person or business is at an extreme, i.e., at the Dominance Model end, or at the Stewardship Model end, but it may be helpful to think of where you are on a continuum like this.
|Dominance Model:||Stewardship Model:|
|Earth belongs to humans to dominate||Creation is a web of harmony and interdependence|
|Earth exists for comfort, pleasure, consumption||Humans are to steward and conserve creation|
|Extinction and loss of resources||Christ is the creator and sustainer of all things|
|Bent toward tribalism, envy, hierarchy, pollution||Sustainability of creation is possible|
|Inherent evils: sexism, racism, economic disparity||Resources used on basis of moderate profit|
Mark Polet is the Coordinator of the BAM Global Creation Care Consultation and has produced some great practical articles which help businesses to be environmentally aware, and also take concrete steps toward caring for creation in their sphere of God’s ecosystem. Here is a good read to start which includes some added links.
I have been encouraged to learn of Kingdom businesses which are making efforts to care for their environment like Outland Denim’s decision to buy from environmentally friendly suppliers, like Sari Bari using recycled Saris, like Grain Bags Romania reduction of waste program, like the reforestation program of Kijani in Uganda, or like Heritage Ranch organic farming without pesticides. Yes, creation care is important, and each business needs to think strategically and intentionally on the subject.
1 Our mission is to inspire, equip, educate, and mobilize evangelical Christians to love God and others by rediscovering and reclaiming the Biblical mandate to care for creation and working toward a stable climate and a healthy, pollution-free world. Evangelical Environmental Network: Who We Are
3 Schaeffer, Francis A. (1970). Pollution and the Death of Man. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House.
4 WEALTH CREATION AND THE STEWARDSHIP OF CREATION A paper from the Global Consultation on Wealth Creation for Transformation organized by the Lausanne Movement and BAM Global in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in March 2017. ©Lausanne Movement & BAM Global
Larry W. Sharp, BAM Support Specialist, IBEC Ventures