Many of us have heard of the acronym “BAM” — Business As Mission. Yet there is another expression of business and mission integration — “Business Accelerating Multiplication.” In this article, I will briefly highlight three areas that help us to experience businesses that accelerate multiplication:
- We need to tear down the sacred and secular divide
- We need to focus on businesses that lead to disciple-making
- We need to partner with local leaders who can accelerate the work of the gospel long-term.
An old idea with new momentum
Business and church planting combined is not a new idea, but it is starting to gain momentum in a new and powerful way. Over the last several decades there has been an increased focus on getting the gospel to the least-reached peoples and even those completely unengaged from any access to the knowledge of Christ. With this focus there has been a need for more creative ways of reaching these people groups, thus business opportunities have been married with disciple-making strategies to reach these areas.
With the world advancing on so many fronts, from travel to communication, we have more missionaries going from different places to the unreached than any other time in history. There are Filipinos going to the Middle East, Brazilians going to North Africa, Central Africans going to the Horn of Africa, it is such an exciting time.
Along with creative access needs, we have seen that some sending fields are not equipped to send missionaries in the same way as the western agencies/churches traditionally have (train and send a worker full-time through personal financial support raising). Small business opportunities for sent workers can be a viable sending model and a strategic entry tool for disciple-making in unreached areas. In many cases, these kingdom-focused businesses accelerate the disciple-making impact in that community in an even more profound way!
Tearing down the sacred and secular divide
When we are talking about starting businesses to accelerate “kingdom impact”, we are talking about businesses that are actively leading to disciple-making in a community. In many thought circles, business and disciple-making (church planting) do not go together. Business is viewed as a distraction, as secular and as too complicated. Or, business is just viewed as a platform for eventual opportunities to share the gospel.
All of these things should be wrestled with and considered, but in the end it is clear that God is using business and the marketplace as a tool to accelerate disciple-making among the least reached people. It is in fact where most people spend most of their time.
Any great movement to Christ has had some form of sustainable businesses/bi-vocational element in its DNA, meaning not every single person who was winning souls for Jesus was a paid professional, but rather it was a collective effort of all of God’s people to make Him known in every sector of society. An example of this would be the Methodist Movement in the early days of the United States. Circuit riders would go out and equip local leaders who often had an income-generating activity. They lived in the community and would lead the formed churches long-term.
A modern-day example would be in India where we see thousands of house churches being formed with the majority of them being led by lay leaders who have income sources through the marketplace. The validation and integration of business/marketplace with disciple-making create momentum that will take our kingdom impact to a new level which is why we must be committed to tearing down the sacred and secular divide.
Business that leads to disciple-making
Many would agree that business and mission efforts should be done together, but not everyone finds common ground for how it should be implemented. Some would say that business in and of itself is glorifying to God, and so we need to focus on running good business among the unreached and take the opportunities as they come. This mindset has been thought to have less strategic concern about disciples being made through the business. On the other side are those who simply see businesses as a platform to be in a country so they can do the “real work” of sharing the gospel. This model often leaves local people skeptical about the workers’ motives and integrity as they operate a completely artificial or poorly run business.
We have found that the true momentum behind business accelerating multiplication is not “business as the sole mission” or “business as a platform” but rather is business that weaves together a passion for disciple-making with a passion for practicing true, honest and sustainable business.
Build capacity within the local leaders
Finally, if we want to see the full potential of businesses that accelerate multiplication, we need to work with our partners in the formation of strategy and implementation. The authority and leadership must come from the hearts of the local (or proximate) leaders who are sharing Jesus in their community.
When a local disciple-maker is operating a business, he/she can relate with the community or newly formed church family on a whole new level. They can see him/her model community engagement, disciple-making, godly business, healthy family provision, and generosity to the church family. And the best news, each person in their flock can go and do likewise. Most of these businesses, from our experience, are not large. They are small to medium-sized businesses that are reproducible and locally relevant. With this model in place, local workers will grow in their ability to lead strategy, manage finances, develop people, and much more.
We are far from arriving on the perfect systematic approach to starting businesses that accelerate multiplication, but the momentum behind these strategies is gaining rapidly. Henry Blackaby once said, “watch to see where God is working and join him in his work.” God is working through “BAM” for his glory among the nations. How will we join him?
If you want to learn more about this conversation or how to bring a sustainable approach to the church planting efforts that you lead, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org