Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Approach

In regards to my thoughts from the Jesus' Discipleship series, the Dependency Mission series, What is BAM?, Go Inter, National Tentmakers and the Blessings of Restricted Access, I wanted to write a little more in summary of our approach here at The Location...

1. Business as Missions--using business to (1) gain access to the country and unreached peoples, (2) have a way to associate with people as non-clergy and in an understandable fashion, thus building relationship where the good news can be shared, (3) have a positive economic and physical effect on the lives of the poorest peoples, and (4) create a sustainable model that doesn't continually depend on outside sources of funds to operate.

2. Discipleship Training--training young interns in a discipleship fashion similar to how Jesus trained his 12 disciples (community living, doing ministry together in the community, responding to events/issues, giving them opportunities) along with an intensive Bible study program and agricultural (or vocational) courses. Training them to beware of the Christian ministry "ruts" that too many young passionate believers fall into: Using Christianity as a way to get rich and move away from the needy, or to get respect, titles, authority, etc. Instead, training them to work with their own hands and gain the respect of outsiders.

3. National Tentmaking--Setting up qualified disciples of Christ in unreached places where they can do business to support themselves and do ministry as well, planting communities of Christ-followers wherever they go.

All three of these things have to work together. Without one of the three, there would be some major gaps.

Now, I want to do this on a larger scale and for a longer time before I really start promoting this model. I know there are some lessons still to learn. But I really believe in this approach for The Location.

Actually, I am also asking myself... Why wouldn't this approach work in America or elsewhere? Your thoughts?


  1. Would you consider people seeing their jobs as their mission field as a form of BAM? I totally get what you're doing (and love it), but what about those who aren't so start-up minded... yet they're surrounded by people who don't know Jesus everyday at their jobs?

    Hit me back, yo.

  2. Hey Aaron... Good comment/question.

    Well, you know, I get tired really quickly when people start debating things like who is a missionary. Is it people who go overseas? People who purposely evangelize? People who help poor people? All Christians?

    In regards to "missionary" and many other terms, if we define it to mean everything then in effect it means nothing. If everything we do is worship, then what is worship? Nothing other than everything. But we still mean something when we say "worship" so it must be something besides everything. The Bible says God gave SOME to be apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. And the word missionary is linguistically the same as apostle. However, your comment was about BAM.

    BAM, like tentmaking, isn't a Biblical term like apostle or prophet (or even church) so I wouldn't want to be dogmatic about it. Usually people argue about such stuff when they are doing BAM one way and then they see someone come along, claiming to be doing BAM, but it is more like workplace evangelism. They don't want to "water down" the definition of BAM so they would say, "You're not doing real BAM!"

    Well, I don't want to be guilty of that. I don't even want to get into such an argument if it would make someone feel their actions are somehow less legitimate or "inferior" to a particular definition of a type of ministry. So, that is to say, even if I considered some type of evangelism or ministry NOT to be BAM, that wouldn't mean I considered it inferior or illegitimate in the least. Make sense?

    I would tend to reserve BAM for those who are a part of the ownership, leadership, management, or employment team of a business whose purposes are for ministry/missions. That along with a business plan, the leadership would have a ministry plan as well.

    So, I would see it as something different from a Christian who goes to work at a regular business (secular or even Christian owned) and witnesses to their non-Christian co-workers. I would tend to call that workplace evangelism, which I think is totally good, totally legitimate and totally needed--especially if we Christians are purposeful about it.

    I would also differentiate between BAM and simple Christian-owned businesses. A Christian person might own a business, and might do everything with Christian morals so to speak, but still not run it with the purpose of doing ministry. The purpose is to make a living, feed their family, etc. Again, nothing wrong with that, but not really BAM the way I think about it.

    When we talk about ministry and missions, I believe it is important to have intentions (other than just being a good guy and going to church on Sundays) and ministry goals that we make ourselves accountable for. So, I think if we want to call something BAM, there should be an intentional ministry plan in place that is executed through the business.

    Again, these are only my thoughts/opinions and I'm not going to be dogmatic about it or condemn anyone who defines things differently.

  3. "what about those who aren't so start-up minded..."?

    Just wanted to add a little more in response to this part of your comment...

    I don't want people to get the idea from me that all Christians should be doing BAM. I do believe all Christians should be doing evangelism in some fashion, shining their light for Christ, being a witness, etc. I believe as Christians we should not isolate ourselves from the world, but infiltrate the world. So, for many (perhaps most) going to work for the millions of secular companies and institutions is the very thing they need to be doing to come into contact with the world and share Christ's message.

    BAM can be a way for those who are start-up minded to perhaps effect a greater portion of the community.

  4. Okay... now you got me thinking and my mind churning...

    The next question (at least, in my mind) to ask when thinking about BAM in the West is...

    What kinds of businesses could we start that would...

    1) Give us contact with a large number of people in the community (who are not Christians).
    2) Give us the opportunity to get to know people rather than just see them walk by.
    3) Help people with something they need help with. (Meaning, not just a service that we charge for--like having a car wash because people need their cars washed--but something better...)

    Any ideas?

    I'll repost this as a post to make sure people see it and maybe we can get some good ideas generated. I would really like to hear some ideas. I only have a couple.

  5. Wow--glad I could get the brain juices flowing!

    I see your distinctions, and totally see them as parts of a larger whole. You're a BAM guy in the purest sense of the term, whereas I'm definitely a "workplace evangelism" guy. I'll be working within an existing organization to redeem it for the kingdom, whereas you have created a kingdom-driven business to redeem your location for the kingdom (does that make sense?). Both are totally needed.

    I also agree that not all Christians should be doing BAM. It takes a person (or team) with the right gifting/personality/etc. to do that. And I TOTALLY agree that BAM is much different from a Christian-owned business.

    Is there a better term than "mission field" (I totally get the missionary/apostle thing)? I'm just at a loss for how to explain the concept being an agent of the kingdom within the workplace.

    As far as BAM possibilities in the US--I know that it's becoming popular for new church plants to start other non-profit organizations with the purpose of meeting a community need. That's cool... but I think there's a difference between doing that and BAM (at least as you've defined it).

    There's a bank commercial running here in the states with people talking about the one thing that got them started on making their idea a reality. One of the people started a cafe that feeds the homeless for free, everyday, in high style (no paper plates, long lines--it's sit down, menu, real plates and silverware). In a city with a homeless problem, that could be an idea.

    In this economy, a business that helps get people job training might be another.

    Just two ideas.

    Dude, lovin' what I'm reading.

  6. Hey Aaron... Yeah, I usually put "mission field" in quotations because I think it is kind of a funny term. I mean, it is totally arbitrary. Typically, it means anything outside our home country. But then you have plenty of unreached at home, too. So, I am not one who likes to get stuck in terminology. Whoever doesn't know Jesus, wherever they are, needs to know about him.

    It seems like I've seen a couple books out there on workplace evangelism. I don't know if they have a sexier name for it or not, but it might be worth checking out those books.

    BAM is a seperate concept (although related, I would say) to non-profit orgs started by churches. Basically because as a business its purpose is to make a profit. This very fact is a barrier in the mind of many Christians who feel that profit=greed and that anything done for a profit must not be of God. But I (and other BAMers) feel that profitability is sustainability. Non-profits always have to be dependent upon donations and such. Businesses need to carry their own weight. So, this is one reason (and I haven't mentioned it on my blog yet) that I like the model of BAM businesses being owned by non-profit (Christian) organizations. That way the profit belongs to the org and not the dude running the business. Profits have to be handled in such a way that they don't just go into owner's or shareholder's pockets. Instead, they must be used for the purposes of the non-profit org.

    Thanks for your ideas and thoughts!

  7. Combine this with (as you've mentioned) organic church planting (which I'm also a huge fan and practitioner of), and you could have a revolutionary model on your hand for stateside church planting. I'm not hearing anyone talk like this.

    I think this may be what Paul did--making tents exposed him to a ton of people, he did something that people needed, and used it for ministry.

    Nice, nice, NICE!

  8. I don't have much to add to this very in depth conversation except to point out that, because I am a bit jaded, when I see someone promoting their business as a "Christian" business, I ask myself, "Why do they have to say that?" There is a local commercial here that advertises themselves as "Christian trial lawyers", then proceed to say something to the effect that God wants you to have the money you deserve. Deserve how? Because your car happened to be hit by a Walmart truck? I have my own business, and yes, the name might be considered a "Christian" name. But not as a marketing ploy. My business name has "Ragamuffin" in it only because I identify with that description on a personal level. When I see a company sign with Christian symbols on it, I wonder if others simply assume that they will be treated honestly and fairly. Sorry - mini rant.

  9. Katdish... Yes! Me too. I think we're jaded when people promote their "Christian" businesses because it seems obvious (to us, anyway) that they are trying to use a Christian label to drum up more business. They are using God to make more money.

    BAM is quite the opposite. The idea is to use business to impact people for God. Profitability is necessary for sustainability, but the real "bottom line" is kingdom impact. Actually, I think most BAM businesses would/should NOT use Christian labels or symbols because the goal isn't to get into the Christian community but to get into the non-Christian community.