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BAM and Mission Agencies

BAM and Mission Agencies: Why and How Agencies Engage in Business as Mission

 

Business as mission (BAM) is the strategic use of authentic business activities that create authentic ministry opportunities that bring spiritual, economic, social and environmental transformation to unreached peoples and marginalised people. Mission agencies have been a vital contributor to launching new BAM enterprises and supporting the wider global BAM ecosystem over the past 25 years.

Business people and business expertise remain some of the most untapped resources for mission in the global church today, and yet they are some of the most needed. A multiplication of for-profit business models is an appropriate and necessary response to some of the world’s most pressing mission issues, including the challenge of taking the gospel to those who are yet to receive it. These needs and opportunities align with the core purpose of mission agencies—and in response, agencies are increasingly grappling with business as mission, both as a concept and as a practical strategy.

A survey of mission agency leaders, staff and BAM practitioners gathered information about opportunities, challenges, lessons learned and current critical issues for ‘BAM and Mission Agencies’. This highlighted four key areas that were addressed by four working groups in the subsequent consultation process:

1. Overcoming Philosophical and Organisational Barriers to BAM

Approaches to BAM by mission agencies were analysed and six main approaches outlined. In addition, five common challenges to organisational acceptance of BAM were identified, with solutions presented for each.

2. The Integration of Business and Mission

Foundational to BAM is ‘Quadruple Bottom Line’ impact. The working group looked at definitions, barriers, and fruitful practices for: spiritual impact, financial sustainability, social impact, and environmental sustainability and impact. They discussed how these four bottom lines can be fruitfully integrated in business planning, practice and evaluation.

3. Resourcing Business as Mission

The resourcing working group considered what kind of supportive ecosystem is necessary around a BAM company at every stage of its lifecycle, and how mission agencies could best contribute to these various support functions. These included recommendations for network building, mobilisation, training and mentoring, funding, and member care.

4. Legal and Structural Frameworks

Positioning for-profit companies alongside non-profit agencies can lead to complex legal and structural questions. The working group looked at practices and recommendations for ownership, governance, financing BAM companies, and income sources for practitioners.

Recommendations, resources and extensive case studies are presented as a further help to mission agency leaders. Our hope and prayer is that this work will continue to bear fruit in the multiplication of BAM enterprises and will foster ongoing collaboration and partnership among agencies and within the wider BAM movement—to God’s glory!

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