Business as Mission, BAM, may sometimes be a tricky term, but it is an important
concept and an essential praxis.
But BAM it is not a silver bullet; it is not the ultimate strategy. It is, however, a
growing global movement of Christians in the market place asking: How can we
shape business to serve people, align with God’s purposes, be good stewards of
the planet and make a profit?
Business as Mission is not trying to replace traditional means of serving God and
people among all nations. Business as Mission is not a fundraising method. Nor is
it about attaching some church-like activities to a business.
Business as Mission, BAM, recognizes the importance of and embraces Corporate
Social Responsibility, CSR. But it goes beyond as well: BAM is CSR+.
We are on a mission in and through business. It is for example a mission of
justice. One could even say ‘Business as Justice’. This and other terms may help
us understand the holistic and transformational nature of Business as Mission.
Let me give 12 brief examples. The list could be made longer, but these 12 will
hopefully show that Business as Mission is not just doing business with a touch
1. Business as Justice
God loves justice and hates injustice. God sent prophets again and again who
spoke out against injustice, and they demanded change and correction. Injustice
often manifested itself in the market place: it was corruption, labor exploitation
and abuse of vulnerable people like immigrants.
To pursue honest business and care for staff is Business as Justice. To treat
customers and suppliers well is also a part of this God honoring pursuit. Business
as Justice includes fighting corruption and bribery.
2. Business as True Religion
True worship is to take care of widows and orphans. (James 1:27) These are two
vulnerable groups, who often are exploited in the market place today. Human
traffickers often target lonely children. Circumstances and cunning people may
force widows into prostitution.
These are realities in many parts of the world. Who will offer orphans and
widows a future; give them jobs with dignity, so they can support themselves
and others? That would be Business as True Religion.
3. Business as Shalom
Shalom is a Biblical concept of good and harmonious relationships. But
relationships were damaged and broken through the fall in Genesis chapter 3.
Through Christ there is a way to restored relationship with God, with one
another, and with creation.
Business is so much about relationships, with staff, colleagues, peers, customers,
clients, suppliers, family, community, tax authorities, and so forth. How can we as
Christians in business strive towards Shalom; Business as Shalom?
4. Business as Stewardship
Every human being has been entrusted with gifts and talents. In business we also
talk about assets. Stewardship is another important Biblical concept. How can we
use what we have to serve? What does stewardship mean when we own and / or
run a business?
God has given some people strong entrepreneurial gifts. They can be used for
God and for the common good through business. It is the same with managerial
gifts or gifts of bookkeeping or sales. We should encourage people with business
skills to be good stewards – Business as Stewardship.
5. Business as Servant Leadership
Jesus came to serve. He was an example of good and godly leadership. Many
books are written on this topic and it indicates the importance of the very
concept of servant leadership.
Doing business as unto the Lord means that we also explore what servant
leadership means in the business context. It is not a simple formula or a cookie
cutter approach. It may look differently in different industries and cultures. But
the key underlying principle is to serve people, communities, nations, and God.
We are too often reminded about the lack of good leadership in the business
world. Business as Servant Leadership is more than needed.
6. Business as Human Dignity
Every person on this planet is created in God’s image. We all have value and
dignity linked to the Creator. He created us to be creative, and to create good
things for others and ourselves. It is deeply human and divine to create; it is an
intrinsic part of human dignity. This creativity process and thus human dignity
has been partly broken, but there is restoration power through Jesus Christ.
It is not a sin to be unemployed, but unemployment and the inability to work and
support oneself and family, is a consequence of the fall. It is a loss of human
dignity. Putting people to work, providing jobs with dignity, is a godly act – it is
Business as Human Dignity.
7. Business as Reconciliation
The Apostle Paul writes that we are agents of reconciliation. Broken
relationships and conflicts are common, even in the market place. We also
witness tension and violence between ethnic and religious groups. Can
businesses provide a forum for reconciliation? Can business people bridge ethnic
and religious divides?
There is a long and sometimes violent history of severe distrust and tension
between Muslims and Christians in Indonesia. But I have seen first hand how
Chinese Christian business people in Indonesia have changed interethnic
dynamics and transformed interreligious relationships by intentionally doing
business as justice, stewardship, shalom, servant leadership, and so forth. As
God’s ambassadors, we can be business people on a mission to do Business as
8. Business as Creation Care
During the creation days God did a daily evaluation, he exercised quality control
on the products he produced. His verdict was “these are good”. He has entrusted
us to be stewards also of creation. Like God we can rejoice in being creative in
the physical arena and produce goods and services that are good for people and
the creation. This is the 1st Biblical mandate we have – to be creative and to
work, also in the business world.
The importance of environmentally friendly businesses is included in the triple
bottom line, striving to have a positive impact economically, socially and
environmentally. (Profit, people, planet)
On a visit to south Asia 2012 I met a couple who are working as management
consultants to major manufacturing companies. This couple had a clear BAM
mission, and was able to help these companies to become more profitable,
improve working condition, save energy and clean up huge amounts of water.
Access to and preservation of clean water is one of the biggest challenges we face
globally. Business as Creation care is essential.
9. Business as Loving Your Neighbor
The 2nd scriptural mandate is the great commandment and includes to “love your
neighbor as yourself”. We know that business can and should serve people and
meet various needs. For example: Unemployment is a major underlying cause to
malnourishment and starvation, homelessness, human trafficking, disease and
limited access to medical treatment, as well as to debt and crime. Providing
people with jobs is alleviating and preventing these dire conditions.
Human resource management (a term which sounds too impersonal and
technical to me) should be an expression of loving your neighbor. Taking our
neighbors’ physical environment into consideration as we run businesses is also
a part of this responsibility. CSR is thus not a new thing; it is based on Biblical
We can also study and learn from history. For example, the Quakers in England
and Hans Nielsen Hauge in Norway were agents of holistic transformation
through business already a few hundred years ago. They did Business as Loving
10. Business as Great Commission
The 3rd Biblical mandate is the global centrifugal thrust: to all peoples, to all
nations. This is a major theme in the global BAM movement. How can we serve in
and through business, empowered by the Holy Spirit, “in Jerusalem, and in all
Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”.
Business as Mission is about being a follower of Jesus, in business and to the
whole world, especially in areas with dire economical, social and spiritual needs.
This is CSR+ and this dimension is not an elective. We want to see the Kingdom
of God demonstrated among all peoples. It is Business as Great Commission.
11. Business as Body of Christ
God calls and equips some people to business. We need to affirm and encourage
business people to exercise their calling with professionalism, excellence and
integrity. Martin Luther puts it this way:
“A cobbler, a smith, a farmer, each has the work and the office of his trade, and they
are all alike consecrated priests and bishops, and every one by means of his own
work or office must benefit and serve every other, that in this way many kinds of
work may be done for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the community, even as all
the members of the body serve one another.” (An Open Letter to the Christian
12. Business as Glorifying God
BAM is the acronym for Business as Mission. Another relevant acronym is
AMDG. The ultimate bottom line of Business as Mission is AMDG – ad
maiorem Dei gloriam – for the greater glory of God