Missions and business are forming an alliance as Christian-based companies around the world are seeking to play a new role in evangelization. Christianity Today (November) reports that the phenomenon has gone by different names–from Business as Mission (BAM) to marketplace missions–but such mixing of businesses with Christian proclamation is seen as the “next great wave of evangelization.” BAM practitioners use their business ventures not only to make money but to spread the Christian gospel and plant churches. In this way, BAM is different than the movement of companies seeking to integrate spiritual or religious values into the workplace. The BAM model holds that business is a Christian calling, but are “piggybacking on a broader trend known as `social entrepreneurship,’ which advocates using capitalism instead of using charity to address social problems like poverty,” writes Joe Maxwell.
The movement is led by “kingdom professionals” who see themselves as having access to nations and peoples that are denied to traditional missionaries. There are three kinds of BAM firms: small companies (often called micro enterprises) usually started by small loans, such as a small jewelry-making business in Thailand consisting of ex-sex workers; larger capital-based companies use their resources to engage in international outreach and gain favor with local and national governments. One example of this kind of company is AMI, an Asian technology manufacturer. Finally, outsourcing companies target particular groups, such as disabled people in India, paying for their training. The major drawback to BAM is that these companies’ freestanding nature, makes them unaccountable to any mission agency or denomination. In some cases, “hybrid” efforts are underway, where a church or mission, such as the Presbyterian Church in America‘s Peru Mission, will cooperate with BAM, planting churches as well as developing business enterprises.
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