Business is a God-given vocation and institution in society, with the potential to bring multiple benefits to people, communities and nations. Business as mission intentionally leverages this intrinsic power of business to address spiritual needs, hand in hand with social, economic and environmental needs.
Business as mission is demonstrating what the Kingdom of God is like in the context of business – and as we do so, engaging with the world’s more pressing social, economic, environmental and spiritual issues.
There is a growing consensus around this idea, although other terms are also used for the same concept. Many prefer alternative terms such as: Kingdom business, missional entrepreneurship, transformational business, missional business or business for transformation (B4T), among others. Business as mission, or BAM, is just one widely used term in the English language, other terms have developed in other languages.
A Working Definition
There is no one universally agreed definition of business as mission, but there are some key common denominators in the global BAM movement. This is the working definition used by the BAM Global Think Tank:
Business as Mission is:
- Profitable and sustainable businesses;
- Intentional about Kingdom of God purpose and impact on people and nations;
- Focused on holistic transformation and the multiple bottom lines of economic, social, environmental and spiritual outcomes;
- Concerned about the world’s poorest and least evangelized peoples.
Intentional and Integrated
Business as mission is not a new idea! Business and mission have been combined in different ways, at different times throughout Church history. However, the contemporary business as mission movement represents a growing intentionality in the global Church to fully integrate business goals with the call to the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. It is an answer to the prayer, ‘May Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven’, as people and communities are positively transformed through for-profit business activities. BAM is the intentional integration of business and mission.
The idea of integration is important. This is not ‘ministry’ tacked onto business for convenience or business tacked onto ministry. Instead the mission is worked out in and through the business, through its activities, through the products and services and through relationships.
Business has the potential to generate wealth through a combination of creativity, risk and work. A profitable and sustainable business is able to create new jobs, drive new innovations and increase resources for society. Business can provide goods and services that are needed in a community and is established on a wide network of relationships.
These activities, products and relationships are integral to business and part of the God-given potential of business to transform society and glorify Him. Through business we can intentionally tackle poverty, increase quality of life, bring positive social change and carry with us the message of eternal life.
Business as mission is a concept that can and should be applied everywhere, but the business as mission movement has a special concern for people and places where there are dire economic, social, environmental and spiritual needs – Mats Tunehag
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.