Over the past decade the model of Business as Mission (BAM) has grown into a globally influential movement. As Christianity Today wrote in 2007, the phenomenon has many labels: “kingdom business,” “kingdom companies,” “for-profit missions,” “marketplace missions,” and “Great Commission companies,” to name a few.
But as Swedish business consultant Mats Tunehag notes, Business as Mission is not a new discovery—it is a rediscovery of Biblical truths and practices.
Many Evangelicals often put an emphasis on the Great Commission, but sometimes make a great omission. This is only one of three mandates we have. The first one God gave us is the creation mandate, Genesis 1 – 3: we are to be creative and create good things, for ourselves and others, being good stewards of all things entrusted to us – even in the physical arena. This of course includes being creative in business – to create wealth. Wealth creation is a godly talent:“Remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”(Deut 8:18) As Christians we often focus more on wealth distribution, but there is no wealth to distribute unless it has been created.
The second mandate is the great commandment which includes loving your neighbor. In the first and second mandates you find a basis for what modern day economists call CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility. It is about creating wealth and producing products and services in ways which consider ‘your neighbor’. CSR recognizes the importance of serving several constituencies through business – not just the owners, but also staff, suppliers, clients, community and the physical environment. CSR includes three bottom lines and looks at the impact businesses have economically, socially and environmentally for the various stakeholders.
BAM also recognizes the importance of the triple bottom line as it is based on the God given mandates about being a creative steward and serving people. But BAM goes beyond this, to CSR+, as we include the third mandate – the Great Commission. We are to glorify God and make Christ known among all peoples. This is the fourth bottom line. As we integrate the Great Commission into our business goals, we develop a global and missional perspective. BAM is CSR+ where the + can also be seen as a cross – putting everything under the Lordship of Christ.
Tunehag also says that we should be asking such questions as “Why do we seem to value the calling to be a pastor and a missionary over the calling to be an entrepreneur or accounting executive?” and “Why are there so few sermons on Biblical views on work and business?”
Related Event: Rodolpho Carrasco will be giving a lecture on “Business As Mission 2.0” today at noon at the Cassard Conference Room at the Waters Building, 161 Ottawa Ave. in Grand Rapids, Michigan.