I am attending the Next Steps conference hosted by Indiana Wesleyan University and organized by IWU Students for BAM. This is their first annual conference. Acton Institute is sponsoring this conference as a part of our evangelical network building work. As I have opportunity, I will post blogs including highlights of the plenary and workshop sessions.
Last night, Bill Moore, owner and CEO of PacMoore Products spoke on principles of integrating business as mission in his company. Bill started his lecture emphasizing business work is not a second class calling for the Christian. Work has inherent value to God and in itself glorifies God. God is a God of order and design and has gifted each with a talent.
He also described through laws like Title 7 where rights and privileges are afforded to business owners, managers and employees regarding religious freedom. Companies and organizations who desire to embrace business as mission should not purpose to become “Christian country clubs,” but rather hire Christians and non-Christians alike. The jobs they provide can create a mission field where the Gospel can be lived out, oftentimes without words, in front of co-workers.
Bill mentioned he isn’t too worried about customers reacting negatively to his mission. One application of the company’s mission was the corporate chaplains (he has seven on staff) contacting a large vendor who recently had to close asking if the staff had any prayer requests or special needs. This vendor is not a Christian company and their former employees were greatly effected by this expression. They also mentioned these calls were significantly more than their own company had done to reach out to them during this transition.
Finally, Bill answered the question “What does a BAM company do?” At the same time, the company must fill a market need with a service and help employees discover Jesus Christ. This creates a double bottom line and both activities must be done exceptionally well.
I hope to update this more throughout the day today.
UPDATE: Dr. Patrick Lai, founder of the OPEN Network and co-founder of Nexus lectured at this afternoon’s plenary session.
How do you start a business in an underserved area:
1)Profile the picture – What do the people need and want vs. what we think they need. Normally they want jobs, education and leisure. Also review gender, age, location, income, and occupation.
2) Consider the cultural trends of the people. They will either be undeveloped, developing or developed. In addition, in some cases countries will be regressing, stagnant or progressing.
3) Study the educational system. Analyze the holes in the education system.
4) Study the resources of the land
5) Study the government-political climate
6) Develop a uniqueness about yourself of your product. Don’t think you have nothing of value. We all have uniquenesses that God can use
7) Be professional. Get a lawyer, local address, business cards, brochures, website.
It is important to remember when starting a new business that all aspects of your life are integrated and if there is a problem in one area, it will impact other areas of life
The American view of business must be contextualized for the international scene. For example, law suits are much less prevelant in the Muslim world. Also, the issue of race is far less divisive in Muslim countries than the US.
Business in order to be successful must make a profit and make an impact in the community. A profitable business with no community impact is not business as mission.