7 Things Every Mission Pastor Should Know About Business as Mission

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to exchange some emails with a friend who has a passion for business and mission and is affiliated with a mission organization overseas.

While starting off as more of a traditional missionary approach, in his 20 year career as a business consultant he has been a part of developing several businesses. During the past three years, he has developed a very profitable business that allows him to fuse together faith and business. A few months ago he had the opportunity to speak about some of the invaluable lessons that he learned to some of the key mission pastors across the country. I asked him to share some of his thoughts. Here’s what he had to say…

1) God loves Business as Mission

  • Doing business (organizing people to work together and thus provide for their current and future material needs) is part of the call on God’s people.
  • Over the centuries (e.g. Paul was a small business owner and not just a tentmaker) God has blessed organizations that have taken their business abroad and proclaimed His kingdom.
  • God is putting in on the hearts of business owners world-wide a desire to use their resources for God’s glory.

 2) Business as Mission is not just about starting a company in another country

  • Starting a company in your home country has a success-rate of 1 in 10. Opening a branch in another country has a similar success rate. Starting a new company in another country does not increase the likelihood of success!
  • Starting a company is complicated, time-consuming and requires more money than was forecasted. Doing this in another country is rarely less complicated, less time consuming and never more predicable!
  • Effective cross-cultural business takes an existing effective business in one country and adapts it to a new country. Rarely do people who try to re-invent the wheel succeed in doing something beautiful.

3) Business as Mission is not a way to get more money or more time to do mission

  • Running a business is time-consuming so if your workers want more free time don’t get them to run their own company. Being in charge means that they don’t have anyone else to shift the responsibility onto!
  • Businesses require money to run. If raising support of US$40,000 a year was hard, why will it be easier to raise at least US$200,000 to open a business in a dangerous country?

4) Business as Mission is vital for communicating the Gospel

  • The Gospel impacts individuals, families and communities. It impacts them physically as well as spiritually.
  • Communities need to see the Gospel implemented not only in individual lives and in families but also in other social environments.
  • After the family, the most common social grouping is business.

5) Business as Mission is not the job of charities

  • The type of person with experience to run a business do not often join a mission agency in the way that, say, a teacher or doctor does.
  • Charities (and people with a charitable background) have difficulty managing for-profit organizations because of the difference in organizational culture.
  • Charities cannot simply own for-profit organizations without risking their charitable status (since the charter for each charity rarely permits them to establish or run such businesses).
  • The authorities in the US (and elsewhere) are concerned with money-laundering of charitable funds. Moving money to another country to pay money to a business (either for salaries or equipment) with no legal relationship to the charity is likely to be construed as money laundering!

6) Mission agencies have key roles to play in Business as Mission

  • Business as Mission people may not join mission agencies in the same way, but that does not make them lone rangers. They value professional experience (including in missions), and they expect to work in partnership with the rest of the church.
  • Business as Mission people need advice and guidance to how to do mission appropriately. Mission agencies can work with the business leaders to form their Business as Mission strategies and to provide ongoing insight.
  • Agencies can specifically encourage certain types of business to enter their fields so that it is easier for other Business as Mission people to enter. For example, if there are experienced sympathetic consultants on the field, then it is easier for other Business as Mission people to assess how to enter that market.
  • Agencies can fund research into market opportunities to attract Business as Mission people onto their field.

Agencies can take advantage of effective Business as Mission people by providing them with competent tentmakers with a strong BAM ethic.

7) Mission will look different after this latest Business as Mission wave

  • Mission agencies are likely to need to work with Business as Mission people as peers not employees. This means that some agencies will tend towards becoming service providers rather than employers of missionaries.
  • Mission will be seen as something done by the inter-dependent church not merely by local congregations sending their members to work for mission agencies.
  • If a business leader came to you today, how would you explain what you can do to make the business more eternally effective? How would you relate to that Business as Mission person? How would you enable the Business as Mission person to pay for the services? What happens if that BAMer is from Africa or Asia?

If a business leader wanted help to do what you do on your field, would they be able to find you at all today? (Business as Mission owners are typically too busy to attend mission conferences so how do they get to hear about you?)

By: Justin Forman, VP of Sales and Strategic Partnerships – BluefishTV and RightNow Campaign