Long term thinking in business as mission
Our theme for this edition is 'long term thinking'. You can read a business story that is rooted within a 30 year plan for discipling business leaders in an Islamic nation. Guest contributor Mats Tunehag shares what he hopes the business as mission movement will become by the year 2020. Plus we look at how business as mission fits in the broader and longer story of God at work in the marketplace. Finally, we bring you thought-provoking ideas from a 20 year veteran of business as mission in our regular column 'Lessons from the Edge'.
Streams in the Desert
Sowing seeds for transformation
Sami is a man with a dream for a nation. It is a dream that took root in the dry and dusty ground of an Islamic country in the early 90s and that has grown up over nearly 20 years through both success and adversity. His vision is to raise up servant-leaders in the marketplace, a group of national business and community leaders that are following God’s ways and shaping a nation from the inside-out. The dream is for nothing less than transformation - of people and values, of communities, and ultimately of a nation. This is a nation that we will call ‘Gongori’, an impoverished state crippled by corrupt leadership.
This is not a dream for the short-term. When Sami and his team first started their business in 2007, it was within the context of a 30 year long strategy to disciple Gongori leaders in Godly principles and with years of preparation and planning behind them. However, for all the long-term planning, tough lessons can bring about necessary adaptation! Lately, Sami has been thinking a lot about the Biblical account of Joseph and how he was able to bring influence from the ‘inside’ in a nation because he had an ‘Egyptian face’. The unique challenges of working in a country like Gongori have paid a heavy price and Sami is now embarking on revised strategy based on what he is calling the ‘Joseph Approach’.
My Hope for 2020
I hope very few people will talk about Business as Mission in 2020. The term is like scaffolding: it is needed for a season as we build the real thing, businesses that glorify God and bring about holistic transformation of people and societies. The term Business as Mission has its merits in clarification of the concept. The term has been helpful in the affirmation of business people and the mobilization of other resources. But the term is not important, the concept and the applications are.
Something Old, Something New
BAM and the broader marketplace missions movement
Someone asked 'Why do you describe business as mission as a new movement, isn’t this an old idea?' Yes in many ways this is a very old idea! Throughout church history business men and women have carried the gospel along with their trade to other nations. However, it is certainly true to say that business as mission is gathering fresh momentum in our generation. We would confidently say that business as mission is being revitalised because God is at work. He is stirring up Christians all over the world and from many backgrounds to engage with this idea. There is a growing wave of Christians called to business as a vocation, to integrate their faith and business life and to use for-profit business development as an instrument of holistic mission to the world.
In their paper 'Distinctives and Challenges of Business as Mission', Steve Rundle and Neal Johnson identify business as mission as one of four camps or strands in a single movement, along with economic development, tentmaking and workplace ministries. Neal Johnson goes on to describe this broader movement as the “marketplace-mission movement” in his recent book.
Lessons from the Edge
Insights from a BAM Practitioner
You must understand and respect the principles of business
Business was created by God and is as ordered and systematic as any other natural system. You don’t take a prayer partner to the top of a tall building, pray and then try to fly off it! God will not be sympathetic to our cause if we disregard the principles of aerodynamics, so why should he be if we ignore the principles of business?!
Be prepared for opposition
What is the oldest trade? The answer might not be what you expected! There is biblical evidence to suggest that trading pre-existed the creation of men (Ezekial 28). Business can be corrupted. Satan wants to deceive us and distract us with lies. We needed to be prepared for spiritual battles and we need to listen with great discernment to the messages coming to us.
Learn how to serve better and better
It is clear from many of Jesus’ parables that as we are faithful in service with what we have been given, then we will be given more responsibility, more opportunity... for service! Reading Luke 19, I believe that the level of responsibility and opportunity I am given in the coming Kingdom will be directly related to how I am serving now. I want to become the best servant I can, with the resource I have, because I am preparing for my second career... in eternity!
Bill has been an entrepreneur in China for over 20 years.