Thank you to Katdish for bringing this up in the comments on my post The Approach.
Is BAM the same thing as a "Christian Business"?
In my hometown you can look through the Yellow Pages and will see numerous ads with the Christian fish symbol on it, a cross or sometimes a scripture. Sometimes someone gets clever and spells the word sun (that fiery ball in the sky) as "Son" (that's right, the Son of God--Jesus). These are all "codes" to let us know that the owner is a Christian. Many Christians will see these things, pick up on the code, and become excited to find a fellow Christian. When it comes time to use their service (auto repair, dentist, lawyer, etc.) they will choose that Christian business over the other ones.
Not too different is when a businessman joins a church. He then gets a hold of the church directory and promptly sends out letters or e-mails letting everyone know about his business. Or, he makes an announcement in church that he will give a special deal to all the members of the church who want to come purchase his goods or services. Most people are so excited that they are on "the inside" of a good deal that they don't realize that this guy is likely doing this to increase his business, not because he wants to "bless" the church.
Now, I don't think these things are inherently wrong. I think that depends on the heart of the business man or woman and what their purpose is. I cannot judge them. I think we often feel jaded, though, because we feel like people are using God. And I think many times people do. They have put a Christian label on their sign to drum up more business in areas where there are a lot of Christians. They are using God to make more money.
BAM (Business as Missions/Ministry) is quite the opposite. The idea is to use business to impact people for God, not using God to improve business. Profitability is important because it is necessary for sustainability. The real "bottom line," however, is kingdom impact. Our main purpose is to serve God and to expand his kingdom. Therefore, we try to do business with those who are NOT Christians. This is not to try to trick them or get their money, but in order to get to know them and build a relationship. In the course of a relationship we share our faith in Christ in a natural way.
Therefore, I think most BAM businesses would 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.