Is it Business as Mission? A Litmus Test

More and more individuals, churches and colleges are taking an interest in the concept of Business as Mission (BAM). That is a good thing, because today, God is using businesses owned and operated by Kingdom minded professionals who are wired by God for business and called to the high and holy calling of living out their faith in the marketplace cross culturally.

The worldwide Business as Mission phenomenon is growing in recognition, because it makes sense to combine obedience to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of Jesus. It makes sense to make relationships with people in the location where they spend most of their time – at work!

Despite this, there is much misunderstanding of the real meaning of combining Real Mission with Real Business. How does it work anyway? Is it possible? How can we be sure that we are investing our personal or church funds, energy and prayers in the right direction?  The following thoughts are a short litmus test of questions to ask to determine best practices for a good Business as Mission (BAM) operation.

  1. Vision and Planning

It is important that a BAM project provide answers to key questions. For starters, think of Drucker’s big five questions for entrepreneurs.

  1. Why are they doing this? Is there an unreached people group they are called to reach? Are there economic reasons for “why this?”  “why here?” “why now?” “why me?”
  2. Is there a focus on blessing the people first in the spirit of Gen 12:3?
  3. Do the potential BAMers have experience in the integration of faith and work based on the priesthood of all believers? Do they know how to make disciples?
  4. Is there a clear understanding of the importance of creating wealth? (Mats Tunehag: “The Wealth Creation Manifesto.”)
  5. From a business perspective, is there a problem to be solved? What is the most needed product to be produced or service provided?
  6. Who are the customers and what value can be delivered to them?
  7. Are the BAM leaders the right people to do this? Do they have experience, access to capital, a good team, and coaches to provide support?
  8. Is there a written plan which begins with a lean startup model canvas integrated with a ministry plan?
  9. What resources are needed and how might they be attained?
  10. Do they understand the true meaning of BAM? 
  1. Execution

Plans are important, but maybe implementation and the ability to get it done is even more so.

  1. Who are the people to manage the project, and do they have experience in getting a job done?
  2. Does every person have a clearly defined role and responsibility?
  3. Are there people on the team who can focus on the Quadruple Bottom Line of: Making disciples; creating jobs; driving the business toward profitability; insisting on a Biblical stewardship of resources?
  4. Is there a commitment on the part of most team members that this is their full-time job and that the “mission” is within the ‘business’ operation? This is not Business FOR Mission.
  5. Are there certain skills on the team such as problem solvers? Change agents capable of taking iteration or pivot steps?
  6. Who are the consultants and coaches connected to the project? (IBEC Ventures: Seven Reasons why Everyone Needs a Coach.)

3. Measurement

Every operation must have metrics to measure progress and insure it is on track.  Ask the owner to produce documents in support of the following:

  1. Progress toward the making of disciples can be measured for example in the number of conversations of spiritual significance which take place, or the business events which demonstrate Biblical values (IBEC Ventures: Training Grid For Business as Mission Employee Training).
  2. Progress toward blessing the community with jobs can be measured by the number of jobs created and the numbers of family members being lifted from poverty with adequate housing, food, health, and education.
  3. Progress toward profitability must be measured with normal robust financial reporting of P&L, balance sheets, cash flow statements, etc.
  4. Progress toward stewardship can be measured with standardized or self-created tests for creation care (Lausanne Movement: Creation Care) and HR resources aligned with gifts, talents, and abilities.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures
larry.sharp@ibecventures.com

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