Monthly Archives: May 2012

Business as Mission Research: Preliminary Statement of the Problem

This is submitted to ask response on the complex issues facing Business as Mission innitiatives. It is only preliminary and is in no way intended to be comprehensive but only exploratory. Please join me in this conversation.

Business as mission (BAM) suffers from a general lack of recognition and deep analysis outside academia and a relatively small community of marketplace and missions practitioners. My project focuses on particular obstacles, including that lack of notoriety, to the widespread deployment of primary resources (manpower and capital), and how those obstacles are recognized and being addressed by mission agencies launching BAM initiatives.

Mark Russell, in the “Statement of the Problem” of his 2008 doctoral dissertation (The Use of Business in Missions in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Asbury Theological Seminary, 2008) cites Ted Yamamori and Ken Eldred as saying that one downfall of the “Western missionary movement…was its failure to mobilize many business professionals (beyond using their money) for the Great Commission.” (Yamamori and Eldred 2003:7). Even as some advances are being made, that status remains relatively unchanged.

Succeeding in business is difficult. BAM initiatives are most needed in locations geographically and culturally foreign to those most able to undertake them and likely to succeed. The degree of difficulty added to business venture by these two components is raised yet again by the need to address Christian missional concerns, including the theological grounding of the actors involved and of the entire enterprise, ethical accountability, and evangelistic intent and impact.

Six areas of particular concern will be investigated through case studies of missions sending agencies, from those currently at the earliest stage of their BAM initiatives to those having accumulated significant experience and competence. These concerns are:

1) the lack of BAM awareness in the church at-large,

2) the difficulties of working cross-culturally,

3) the recruitment and training of both sent and contextual BAM practitioners,

4) the cultural, needs, opportunities, resources, and market assessments of BAM locations,

5) deployment and coordination strategies of personnel and assets to best match these resources to local needs, and

6) the organizational sophistication and capacity for BAM of sending mission agencies.

Figure 1.1. Primary Organizational Components of Business as Mission Initiatives shows twelve key elements connected with each business creation. There has been no intentional ordering of these key elements in the diagram other than that of placing Pastoral Care in a predominant position to indicate the vital importance that all BAM initiatives be carried out with spiritual and ethical accountability to the local church. The list of elements included is by no means exhaustive and considering the extent of issues subordinate to these twelve quickly reveals an intense complexity in the overall scheme of undertaking BAM initiatives. This complexity is compounded by viewing BAM as an interdisciplinary undertaking, the (re-)integration of business and ministry which have been falsely bifurcated historically as the doing of business as a Christian and the exercising of the practitioner’s Christian faith were compartmentalized both practically and philosophically.

The general lack of awareness of BAM can be easily documented anecdotally by speaking with a wide range of marketplace Christians, their pastors, and missionaries. This is likely due to BAM, as a formal proposition, having risen into the view of mission agencies and missiologists in just the past decade or two. Actual BAM work has been going on for centuries, as many cite the Apostle Paul, the tentmaker, as the first self-proclaimed bi-vocational (a misnomer) missions practitioner.

Domestic (U.S.) ignorance of other cultures around the world and the arrogance of U.S. exceptionalism often results in demeaning patronage, philosophic imperialism, and resentment among those in receiving locations. The cultural bent among U.S citizens toward addressing issues head-on and dictating solutions, too often like a bull in a glass factory, results unawares in insensitivity which renders “serving the poor” an awkward misstatement of the intended effort.

Marketplace Christians sent as BAM practitioners will require preparation and training, not the least for working cross-culturally but also in areas such as contextually appropriate business modeling and technologies. Indigenous BAM practitioners may require extensive education in business development and practices. Both groups need to be recruited as awareness of needs and opportunities for BAM are defined in a broad range of locations.

Each location targeted for BAM initiatives presents a unique set of circumstances involving local cultural, the needs and opportunities within the community, assessing available (and missing) resources, and understanding the local and national business climate, especially in relationship to local, regional, and national governance. This requires well planned and executed strategies to optimize the success of both the businesses created and the ministerial aims of the mission agency and the local church.

Deployment and coordination concerns not just to the effective ministry of particular marketplace expertise but also to the wide variety of BAM experiences and lessons learned. Sending marketplace Christians into the mission field, whether for short or long term assignments, should be well-documented such that a clearinghouse could provide vital data to enhance and expedite other BAM initiatives. Information and expertise could then be more effectively matched and deployed as the various assessments surrounding each new BAM initiative are completed. The church is a divine enterprise and its ministry outreach to the world requires organizational development and information management no less so than any other charitable or commercial endeavor.

Best practices in undertaking complex tasks are nowhere more critical than in the advancing God’s Kingdom on earth. Sadly, many church and mission agencies neglect understanding the finer points of organizational development. Lacking adequate knowledge leads to marginal success, especially when coupled with limited capacities to anticipate and handle those complexities. This is an area in particular the church can learn from the highly motivated business world to maximize the penetration and impact of BAM initiatives.


Filed under Faith in the Marketplace

Devotionals Available for Android

I have started writing devotionals for an Android app called Beyond Daily Bible Devotion. The original app (Daily Bible Devotion) is free from and offers very short devotionals (approximately 100 words including a verse from Scripture). The Beyond app is $2.99 and will offer considerably more depth. The first couple of months worth already in the queue are about 300 words but I am ramping up those that will start appearing around June 25th and beyond due to popular request. Most of them will be 500-700 words. This gives me a lot more flexibility in exploring words in the original Hebrew and Greek, contextual issues of the time of writing, tying more Scripture together, etc.

I am always open to addressing specific questions and issues about Scripture or theological issues and welcome input. As much as possible, I want to be as responsive to readers as I can so your input will have a great deal of influence.

Also, in the next few months, the Beyond app will be made available for Apple platforms (iPhone, Ipad), just as the original Daily Bible Devotion is already.

I hope to hear from folk and please share this across your LinkedIn and Facebook networks.


Dave Doty

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Filed under Announcements, Devotionals & Meditations

Next Phase of Research

I am announcing to the world that I am “officially” launching my quest to write a doctoral dissertation. I am particularly interested in the topic of mobilizing marketplace Christians for advancing the Kingdom of God through the business and mission movement. Right now I am “chasing” my thesis.

I am interested in the various perspectives on mobilization from mission agencies and conventional missions practitioners, Western pastors who want to empower their people interested in business and mission, marketplace Christians with lagging knowledge of what is happening and how they can be involved, and so on.

The best way to help me right now is to pose questions that come to mind as you think of this movement from your particular perspective. I wish I could be less vague about what it is I am asking but that is the nature of a discovery quest…I am not sure exactly what I am looking for but will know it when I find it.

Please join me in this conversation. I believe the marketplace will play a leading role in the spread of Christianity in the coming decades and will experience  incredible transformation from the inside out as we seek to know and follow Christ as we go to work.


Dave Doty


Filed under Announcements

On Calling and Works

(This essay is excerpted from my upcoming e-book, Christ in the Marketplace: A Business and Mission Primer.)

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps” – Proverbs 16:9.

There is confusion surrounding the notion of Christian calling. Many believe they are called to a particular vocation or action, some even that they cannot please God until they find that one thing to do or be in their career. The problem arises in mistaking calling with works. Calling and works do overlap but they are distinct as to how they are understood and performed.

There is but one calling for Christians and that is to obey Jesus’ command, “Follow me.”  Much of the confusion of calling arises out of the inappropriate privatization of the Christian faith, an effect of Western individualism. The mission of God is personal only on the point that the body of Christ is comprised of many individuals. But the Kingdom is more aptly understood in the communal sense.

As we are called to follow Christ, we are called into the community of the Church. Vital relationships are formed within the Church for the purposes of helping all on the path of spiritual growth amidst the normal activities of life, whether in worship, at work or leisure, in serving others, or in times of fellowship. The importance of relationships is likely no more apparent than it is to marketplace Christians who interact daily with customers, employees and co-workers, superiors, vendors, business partners and investors, and the surrounding community.  Partnerships are important within the business as mission movement as it brings together ministry leaders, investors, business leaderships, and the constituencies they serve.

Jeremiah 29:11—‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (NIV)— is often misappropriated to justifying calling as an individual issue. This highlights the bad practice of taking isolated verses or passages out of context, particularly as this instance reads the presuppositions of individualism (of privatized faith) into Scripture. Jeremiah’s statement was given to the elders of Israel in exile. It was spoken to the whole of Israel as a people, a community of faith, not to any one person.

The call to Christians, corporately and individually, is to becoming holy, taking on the character of God, to becoming “other” in the sense of being different from the world. Holiness cannot be exercised in isolation. It always functions within relationships. Sadly, privatized faith has been a powerful deterrent to the effectiveness of the Church in Western culture as many Christians have assumed a predominantly inward spiritual focus.

God is glorified not so much by the career choices we make but rather by the witness of His character manifest in us. Our “calling” is to be becoming different than we have been. It is a calling to make behavioral and systemic changes in every circumstance. We are “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). There is no indication that this pertains to certain occupations or is specific to charitable works. Rather, this is indicative of one living out transformed character.

Character is the issue, not any particular pursuit. Consider the “generic” sentiment of Psalm 37:3-5: Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.”

Paul exhorts the church in Thessalonica “to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). He charges the Corinthians and Colossians that in whatever they do, they should do all “to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), “in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks,” (Colossians 3:17), and heartily, as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).

There is nothing here about being “called” to particular vocations or even specific acts. Rather, as said, our calling is unto Christ. The “works” we perform within whatever circumstance we find ourselves will glorify God (Matthew 5:16). Simon Peter was still a fisherman after the first Easter (John 21).

The sentiment of Psalm 37:4-5—“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it” (emphases mine)—offers insight as to how God views our vocational choices. First, we can see that perhaps God has not chosen specific plans for our lives. There may be specific works that present themselves amidst our journeys with God, but God is able to align our paths, whatever they may be, with specific needs or events.

That alignment is commonly called convergence, which combines our calling to follow Christ, our discipleship (especially through the ministry of the Word and Church), our experience in whatever profession or other interests we pursue, and our passion. There are far more marketplace Christians than any other occupational category (i.e., paid clergy, healthcare and social workers, government or academic employees, and so on). They are called where they are.

Many marketplace Christians are very good at what they do and enjoy their occupations thoroughly. It is in whatever circumstance, professional or volunteer, that they can serve God with the gifts and talents given to us or that we have developed. The heart of Psalm 37:3–5 is “Delight yourself in the LORD.” Knowing and communing with God is our highest passion. But He also knows our temporal interests and a multitude of ministries are birthed out of the intersections of our faith, relationships, occupations, and passions.

For business people this may mean using high incomes to bless the poor, or to bring their gifts to bear in outreach ministries, such as a fishing outfitter or guide service spending quality time with disadvantaged youth. It may mean business leaders mentoring start-up businesses that lack their particular expertise, such as in the disciplines of management practices, leadership development, logistics, technology, or strategic planning. It could be a web designer helping a not-for-profit organization get up to speed on the web and active in social media. Or it could be just being a good employee, looking out for the welfare of their employing company and co-workers. In all cases, God will be glorified as we live into the nature and character of God in our spheres of influence in humility, grace, gentleness, generosity, compassion, diligence and integrity.

Convergence is where God meets us in the details of our own lives to manifest His love for the world. By our works, He makes Himself known. Ultimately, our following Christ, living in the grace and truth of Christ, is our most powerful witness.

As an example of convergence, i.e., the discernment of the works appropriate to my ministry, I share my own experience:

My parents were avid readers and I grew up reading. I enjoy the arts because human stories are studies in psychology, anthropology, culture, sociology, history, and philosophy. My parents loved to travel, so I grew up traveling. I love adventure for the sake of discovering the previously unknown. Their curiosity rubbed off. I want to learn everything about everything so I am an avid researcher. I am a learner and I like to discover the connections (synthesis) between otherwise seemingly disparate topics or arenas of life. I enjoy “exploring” the world of ideas as much as the physical world.

I love reading and studying the Bible and theology, especially about the mission of God and economic concerns. I enjoy writing as it forces me to clarify what I think I have learned. I had a lot of research and writing practice in my undergraduate (English literature) and graduate (world mission and evangelism) studies. One of my top spiritual gifts is teaching.

I enjoy business. It is like a game with lots of rules, decision-making, and strategizing. I have thirty years’ experience in business and administrative management, including fourteen years as a three-time small business founder and owner. I have been “online” for twenty years, communicating professionally via dial-up bulletin boards before the world wide web was invented. I am very project oriented, preferring to undertake work that has closure where accomplishments can be evaluated for future reference.

So, “by coincidence,” I have had a book published (Eden’s Bridge: The Marketplace in Creation and Mission, Wipf & Stock Publishers) on the theology of the marketplace; I have received requests to create e-books on business and mission and on the integration of Christian faith and economics; I have a blog ( on the integration of Christian faith and economics, which also includes devotional and meditation materials; and, I have started writing daily devotionals for mobile device apps.

Many have spoken no truer words than to say that God comes to meet us where we are. That is never more true than in our vocation. God does not necessarily care what occupation we pursue (unless it is something immoral). He does care that we would be salt and light wherever we work.


Filed under Discipleship, Faith in the Marketplace