Why is Business as Mission Important?
There are five basic reasons why BAM is important in the 21st century. These five reasons constitute a basic apologetic for Business as Mission.
1. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor”. This Great Commandment goes hand-in-hand with the Great Commission to “…go and make disciples…” What does love look like in areas of high unemployment, injustice and poverty? Jesus often addressed human need of sickness, hunger and pain, and today Business as Mission advocates suggest that sustainable, long-term economic solutions provide transformation to families and whole communities.
In the workplace, Christ can be lived out in practical ways and His love demonstrated. When business is integrated with God-honoring values, positive changes take place, people listen to the gospel narrative and people want to follow Jesus. Business start-ups and job creation is the modern day equivalent of what “Jesus would do.”
2. About 65% of the world’s population is inaccessible to traditional missions. This includes more than 70 countries and more than 265 megacities. Religious workers are not wanted. But people do want a better life which can be provided by job creation through business and we can do that in the name of Jesus. A look at history demonstrates that the gospel spread when connected to the local realities of life on the street. Martin Luther affirmed that “a gospel that does not deal with the issues of the day is not the gospel at all.”
3. The making of disciples (MT 28:19) is for all believers, not just for a few professional missionaries. Business and professional people have been marginalized from the Great Commission because certain gifts have been considered more valuable. Such dichotomous thinking is damaging to the making of Jesus’ followers. God gave a wide range of gifts to the body of Christ and He wants all people to apply their gifts, experience, personality and abilities to share the good news. Business as Mission allows business people, professionals and tradesmen to demonstrate Jesus through what they do best – work and business. It is the priesthood of believers at its best.
4. The work place is a primary place for relationships; it is where people are most every day and most of the day. The issues of everyday life are talked about there. Best friends are developed there. Respect is gained through professional skills. It is where people learn to contribute to their world through their expertise. The workplace is where real values of truth, integrity, discipline etc. can be best lived out. 80% of the world’s population are oral learners – they need to see the gospel lived out in everyday life! People get to see how Jesus followers live in good times and bad. Jesus himself lived and taught in the real world of fishing, carpentry, farming, making of bread, and buying and selling. Everyday life is where the temporal and eternal meet.
5. The world is rapidly changing and Business as Mission is a cost effective way to bring eternal values to the world. Traditional missions are becoming very expensive for the supporting churches and individuals, leading many to question the 20th century model of the professional clergy on the basis of economic viability. Business as Mission and its counterpart “Tentmaking” makes the making of disciples a natural process. The era of the fully supported “missionary” may be coming to a close.
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