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What is Business as Missions (BAM)? Explained




Business as Missions (BAM) is a relatively new concept that has gained popularity in recent years. It is a movement that seeks to integrate business and mission work, with the aim of transforming people and societies spiritually, economically, and socially. BAM is not simply about using business as a tool for evangelism, but rather it is about intentionally integrating business and mission work to create sustainable and profitable businesses that have a Kingdom of God focus/purpose as well as an impact on the surrounding communities.

For that reason, as it is a huge part of what I do personally as my ministry, I thought it a good idea to give some more depth to the subject. Really, my goal with this blog is to not only put some more "meat on the bone" around the topic but also give some insight into what our project here in Barranquilla has to do with BAM. I'm by no means an expert but the more I become a practitioner of business as missions and the more I share our story the more experience becomes my ally.

I love the following quote: "BAM is a triangular drama that involves church, business, and missions. It recognizes that business can be a powerful tool for social and economic development and that it can also be a means of sharing the gospel and building the church." The BAM movement is growing rapidly around the world, and it is attracting entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and mission workers who are passionate about using business as a means of advancing the Kingdom of God.


Understanding Business As Missions

Business as Missions (BAM) is a concept that has gained popularity in recent years, particularly among Christian business owners and entrepreneurs. It is a movement that seeks to combine business and faith, with the aim of creating profitable businesses that also have a positive impact on society and fulfill the Great Commission set forth in the Bible.

At its core, BAM is about using business as a means of sharing the love of Christ and advancing the Kingdom of God. It is not just about making money, but also about making a difference in the lives of people and communities. BAM seeks to address social, economic, and spiritual needs through the creation of businesses that provide jobs, products, and services that benefit society.

One of the key features of BAM is that it is based on the principles of sustainability. BAM businesses are designed to be profitable and self-sustaining, rather than relying on donations or other forms of external funding. This is a huge advantage for the practitioner as donation-based models can be very difficult to hold on to for the long term. There is a lot of freedom in having a sustainable model. Things like freedom of time to invest in outreach activities, available capital, and human capital resources are all examples.

Another important aspect of BAM is its focus on holistic transformation. I don't love the term holistic transformation but it does fit the bill well here. BAM seeks to address the spiritual, economic, and social needs of individuals and communities, rather than just one aspect of their lives. This means that BAM businesses are not just focused on making money, but also on creating a positive impact on the lives of their employees, customers, and communities. Now, let's not get it twisted... Making money is a good thing and still a goal of a BAM business. I have made the comment over 100 times at least, "If we don't make money, we aren't going to be around to do the good that God has set us to do." However, it is important to note that making a ton of money is not priority number 1.


Historical Context of BAM

Business as Mission (BAM) is a relatively new concept that has emerged in the last few decades. At least in the circles that I have been running in for the last 5-6 years. However, the roots of BAM can be traced back to the early days of Christianity when merchants and traders were among the first to spread the gospel to new lands.

In the modern era, the concept of BAM started to take shape in the 1980s and 1990s, as Christian entrepreneurs began to explore ways to integrate their faith with their business activities. One of the earliest examples of BAM was the founding of the company, Servant's Heart, by Ken Eldred in 1982.

During the 1990s, a number of organizations, such as the Business Professional Network (BPN) and the Business as Mission Network (BAMN), were established to promote the concept of BAM. These organizations helped to bring together Christian business leaders and entrepreneurs who were interested in using their businesses as a means of spreading the gospel and serving the needs of their communities.

In the early 2000s, the concept of BAM gained wider acceptance and recognition, as more and more organizations began to embrace the idea of using business as a means of fulfilling the Great Commission. Today, BAM is a global movement that is supported by a wide range of organizations, including churches, mission agencies, and business networks. Overall, the historical context of BAM reflects a growing recognition among Christians that business can be a powerful tool for advancing the kingdom of God. As more and more Christian entrepreneurs and business leaders embrace this concept, the potential impact of BAM on global missions and economic development is likely to continue to grow in the years ahead.


Key Principles of BAM

Business as Mission (BAM) is a movement that seeks to integrate business and missions to bring holistic transformation to individuals and communities. The BAM Global Think Tank has identified several key principles that define BAM. These principles are:

Integration of Business and Missions

BAM seeks to integrate business and missions, recognizing that both are valuable tools for bringing transformation to individuals and communities. This means that BAM businesses are intentional about sharing the love of Christ and His message through their business activities and that they seek to use their business as a platform for gospel proclamation and discipleship.

Profitability and Sustainability

BAM businesses are profitable and sustainable. They are not simply charities or non-profits but are legitimate economic activities that generate revenue and provide employment opportunities. Profitability and sustainability are important because they enable BAM businesses to continue their work over the long term and to have a greater impact on the communities they serve.

Holistic Transformation

BAM seeks to bring holistic transformation to individuals and communities. This means that BAM businesses are concerned with more than just the spiritual needs of their customers and employees, but also with their physical, emotional, and social well-being. BAM businesses seek to create products and services that meet the needs of their customers and to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees.

Great Commission Focus

BAM has a Great Commission focus. This means that BAM businesses seek to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. BAM businesses recognize that their ultimate goal is not just to create profitable businesses, but to bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ and to see them grow in their faith. That can take shape in a variety of ways. For our project, it looks a lot more "outward" facing than it does internally. There are a ton of companies that focus directly on their internal team of employees, which is awesome! That doesn't mean we are bucking the trend or doing it wrong at all. The key is the focus on what Jesus set out before us in Matthew.


Benefits of BAM

Business as Mission (BAM) is a powerful approach to missions that combines business and ministry. It has the potential to bring multiple benefits to people, communities, and nations. Here are some of the benefits of BAM:

Economic Impact

One of the most significant benefits of BAM is its economic impact. BAM enterprises create jobs and generate wealth, which can help alleviate poverty and stimulate economic growth. They can use that generated income to do a lot of good in a variety of ways. Things like funding ministry projects, investing in local small businesses, supporting non-profits, or even starting a BAM venture capital fund are examples. By providing goods and services that meet the needs of the local community, BAM enterprises can also contribute to the development of the local economy. We love to share this story with our local partners as we enter a city. Why? Well, it's pretty simple. Our project goes out and doesn't just take from the places we establish ourselves. It is integrated into the community and gives back in a variety of ways. Local governments and organizations have been very excited about that!

Social Transformation

BAM can also have a significant impact on social transformation. By creating jobs and generating wealth, BAM enterprises can help to improve the standard of living for individuals and families. BAM enterprises can also promote social justice by providing fair wages and working conditions for their employees.

Spiritual Influence

BAM is not just about economic and social impact, but also about spiritual influence. BAM enterprises are intentionally led by Christians who seek to use their businesses as a platform for sharing the gospel and demonstrating God's love in practical ways. By integrating their faith into their business practices, BAM entrepreneurs can build relationships with their employees and customers and have a positive impact on their communities.

In conclusion, BAM has the potential to bring significant benefits to individuals, communities, and nations. By creating jobs, generating wealth, promoting social justice, and sharing the gospel, BAM enterprises can make a positive impact on the world.


Challenges in BAM

Business as missions (BAM) is a unique approach to missions that involves using business as a means of sharing the gospel and making a positive impact on society. While BAM has many benefits, it also comes with its own set of challenges. In this section, we will explore some of the challenges that those involved in BAM may face.

Financial Risk

It's not a hard one to guess, is it?! One of the biggest challenges in BAM is the risk of not being successful. Starting a business is always risky, and starting a business in a foreign country can be even riskier. Not only that, but startups have a high failure rate. There are also a ton of cultural factors to consider, such as currency fluctuations, political instability, and differences in local culture. Those involved in BAM must be prepared to take calculated risks and be willing to adapt to changing circumstances.

Cross-Cultural Issues

Another challenge in BAM is cross-cultural issues. Doing business in a foreign country requires an understanding of the local culture and customs. Misunderstandings can easily occur, and cultural differences can lead to conflicts. We have experienced this probably more than any of the other items I'll touch on. Working overseas is tough. Those involved in BAM must be willing to learn about and respect the local culture, and be willing to adapt their business practices accordingly. Eating "humble pie" is a requirement, not an option.

Ethical Dilemmas

Finally, those involved in BAM may face ethical dilemmas. For example, they may be tempted to cut corners or compromise their values in order to make a profit. They may also face pressure from local officials or business partners to engage in unethical practices. It is important for those involved in BAM to have a strong moral compass and to be committed to doing business in an ethical and sustainable way. In conclusion, while BAM has many benefits, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Those involved in BAM must be prepared to take calculated risks, be willing to learn about and respect the local culture, and be committed to doing business in an ethical and sustainable way.


Future of BAM

The Business as Mission (BAM) movement is still relatively young and has a lot of potential for growth and development in the future. Here are some potential areas of growth and challenges that the BAM movement may face in the future:

Expansion of the Movement

One of the primary challenges for the BAM movement in the future will be to expand the movement to more countries and regions around the world. Currently, the majority of BAM activity is concentrated in a few countries, such as Thailand, Cambodia, and India. However, there is a growing interest in BAM in other parts of the world, such as Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. The challenge will be to find ways to support and encourage BAM activity in these regions.

Integration with Local Communities

Another challenge for the BAM movement in the future will be to integrate more fully with local communities. In order for BAM to be truly effective, it needs to be rooted in the local context and culture. This means that BAM practitioners need to be willing to learn from and work with local communities in order to create businesses that are truly sustainable and impactful. This will require a significant investment of time and resources, but it is essential for the long-term success of the BAM movement.

Collaboration with Other Movements

The BAM movement is not the only movement that is working to create positive social and environmental change through business. There are many other movements, such as social entrepreneurship, impact investing, and sustainable business, that share similar goals and values. In the future, there will be opportunities for the BAM movement to collaborate with these other movements in order to create an even greater impact.

Innovation and Adaptation

Finally, the BAM movement will need to continue to innovate and adapt in order to remain relevant and effective in the future. The world is constantly changing, and the challenges and opportunities that the BAM movement will face in the future may be very different from those that it has faced in the past. This will require a willingness to experiment, take risks, and learn from both successes and failures.

Overall, the future of the BAM movement looks bright, but there are also significant challenges that will need to be addressed in order to ensure its continued success. By expanding the movement, integrating with local communities, collaborating with other movements, and continuing to innovate and adapt, the BAM movement can continue to create positive social and environmental change through business for years to come.

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