Business as Mission and Church Planting: Fruitful Practices for Establishing Faith Communities
Many within the business as mission (BAM) movement, especially those from church planting mission agencies, are hopeful that the BAM concept can become a key strategy in starting new churches and transforming communities. This report will confirm that indeed the potential exists for these goals to be attained. However, while there is a good rationale for integrating business and church planting, to date there has been a relative lack of working examples and resources on best practices.
The objective of the Business as Mission and Church Planting Issue Group has been to research current practices and trends in the BAM movement and to identify fruitful practices that lead to the formation of new churches. We conducted interviews with BAM practitioners to identify foundational principles, key challenges and fruitful practices for BAM and church planting. Real examples from BAM companies are shared to illustrate some of the lessons learned by current practitioners.
Fruitful practices for integrating church planting and business include:
- Make sure that the business provides regular contact with the focus people.
- Invest substantial time in learning language and culture before attempting to start a business.
- Make business sustainability and profitability an essential goal.
- Give thoughtful consideration to staff selection.
- Clarify and communicate your strategic mission.
- Build local partnerships.
- Work in a team.
- Incorporate prayer right from the start.
- Incorporate biblical values and teaching.
- Work with a coach or mentor(s).
- Witness by doing business ethically and with care.
- Provide excellent products and services.
- Intentionally invest in relationships.
- Be socially responsible in the wider community.
Most BAM practitioners were able to share illustrations of transformational business practices, discipling conversations, significant relationships and anywhere from one to a handful of new Christ-followers in their company or work community. In some cases the double bottom lines of profitable business and planting churches has been achieved.
Therefore, the results of our research indicate that God has already used business to launch new churches. However church planting alongside operating a viable for-profit business presents significant challenges. Furthermore, we discovered only a handful of examples that have helped initiate a new church that can reproduce itself on its own.
Areas for further consideration and research are suggested, as well as practical recommendations for making greater advances in this area of business as mission. Our hope is that in the future there will be many more companies that do business well and at the same time help establish communities of faith that will be a reflection of God’s glory.