Founder and Writer
Relationship Between Business and Mission
The words ‘business’ and ‘mission’ are two highly confused concepts. Both words are loaded full of preconceived ideas, expectations, and theological foundations. How the two concepts relate to each other may be even more complex. To some, business should never come anywhere close to things that look like church. Understandably, I get that type of thinking. We witness prosperity preachers who sell “miracle healing water” and propose seed sewing theology that’s nothing more than modern day snake oil salesmen. Those preachers are charlatans and many want nothing to do with them. Celebrity pastors sell shallow theology self-help books and manipulate clergy IRS tax law to write off multi-million dollar mansions. The examples of idolatry are many.
However, business is not evil. Christian and non-Christian alike value ethical and fair businessmen who make profit from their business enterprises. The church is even okay with business owners who donate some of their profits to missionaries and charities doing God’s work around the world. We, at Goby Mission, believe that business and mission can intersect in a way that is true to biblical parameters and advances God’s kingdom throughout the world. We don’t need to be afraid of business. We can redeem business for the glory of God for the spread of his mission.
1. Business and Mission
In this model, business and mission are two separate entities that have no intersection. Those that are missionaries or church planters should not be businessmen. Those advocating this position may believe that business and mission should never be joined together in any type or fashion. Business and mission proponents may be traditionally fundraised missionaries that receive a lot of their support from those who have made their income and profit from business.
2. Business as Platform for Mission
Platform businesses are typically not businesses at all but a legal structure that looks like a business to that particular government that allows a missionary to enter closed countries. Platform missionaries may be bivocational missionaries who find legitimate jobs to enter a new field. In North America, taking a new job in a new city is normal. Taking jobs in foreign cities may be viewed in a bad light since those jobs could perceptibly be given to indigenous residents.
The platform model has redeeming characteristics though. It can help traditional missionaries understand the need for business and use their underutilized skills to develop legitimate businesses. Also, a missionary using in this model can build relationships, trust, and goodwill with those who work and live in the community.
3. Business as Mission
The BAM model has become increasingly popular in the last few years as a way to enter foreign fields. The idea here is that business should not only provide for the missionary, but it should economically improve the lives of native residents. For example, a missionary may buy coffee fields, hire local farmers, pay them a good wage, and turn around and sell those beans at a premium to international buyers. The missionary wins by creating profit for himself, good jobs in his community, and builds goodwill in the community by improving the lives of the community.
Many, in the BAM philosophy, believe that mission should be treated holistically. Mission should simultaneously help the physical and the spiritual. Both are seen as primary objectives in this model. Mission models whose primary objective is new churches and new followers of Christ and not physical . Since this model has become more in vogue, there are a number of books and blogs that have been written.
4. Business for Mission
Business for mission is the model that the writers of Goby Mission really want to delve into experimenting with various business ideas and researching others who are doing this well. Business for mission is the idea of creating profitable businesses that help missionaries sustain themselves primarily. North America is a very affluent place where business is flourishing. As more churches are planted and more church planters want to go to the field, less and less money becomes available for traditional fundraising. At the height of the Moravian missions movement, they were sending one missionary for every 60 congregants. They had to think differently and they needed income to fund their missions enterprises. They solved this by developing businesses that could allow for more missionaries to be sent. Until we answer the money problem, the amount of church planters we can send will be limited. Business for mission may be the answer to those problems.
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