– Mats Tunehag
Business as Mission is not a new discovery – it is a rediscovery of Biblical truths and practices. In one sense it is like the Reformation and its rallying cry: ad fontes – back to the sources.
Business as Mission, BAM, is a term widely used today. The term is new but the underpinning concept is nothing new. During the Reformation old truths were highlighted and contemporary assumptions were challenged. This is what the global BAM movement is doing today. We are revisiting Scripture, questioning jargon and traditions, and assessing the situation in the world. We are also revisiting history and highlighting untold stories of Christians who were instrumental in societal transformation as they engaged in business.
Many Evangelicals often put an emphasis on the Great Commission, but sometimes make a great omission. This is only one of three mandates we have. The first one God gave us is the creation mandate, Genesis 1 – 3: we are to be creative and create good things, for ourselves and others, being good stewards of all things entrusted to us – even in the physical arena. This of course includes being creative in business – to create wealth. Wealth creation is a godly talent: “Remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:18) As Christians we often focus more on wealth distribution, but there is no wealth to distribute unless it has been created.
The second mandate is the great commandment, which includes loving your neighbor. In the first and second mandates you find a basis for what modern day economists call Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It is about creating wealth and producing products and services in ways that consider ‘your neighbor’. CSR recognizes the importance of serving several constituencies through business – not just the owners, but also staff, suppliers, clients, community and the physical environment. CSR includes three bottom lines and looks at the impact businesses have economically, socially and environmentally for the various stakeholders.
BAM also recognizes the importance of the triple bottom line as it is based on the God given mandates about being a creative steward and serving people. But BAM goes beyond this, to CSR+, as we include the third mandate – the Great Commission. We are to glorify God and make Christ known among all peoples. This is the fourth bottom line. As we integrate the Great Commission into our business goals, we develop a global and missional perspective. BAM is CSR+ where the + can also be seen as a cross – putting everything under the Lordship of Christ.
Our mission and success criteria must include transformation. We want people and societies to be transformed – holistically. What does it mean?
It is about a good and lasting change. And that takes time: we need to have an inter-generational perspective. BAM is an intentional praxis of faith at work in all relationships in and through business. BAM is about practicing business based on ethical principles. It is about following Jesus in the market place to see people and societies transformed.
We also need to give priority to small & medium size businesses (SME’s). They are strong transformational agents – not only economically. They are in many ways the backbone of developed economies. SME’s are often missing to a large extent in the poor countries and regions.
We are all people with physical, social, spiritual, emotional, economical and other needs, operating in a political and cultural context. So transformation must be holistic – for people and societies. Our mission is and must be more than evangelism and church planting.
Mats Tunehag is a freelance consultant, speaker and writer from Sweden. He is a Senior Associate on Business as Mission for both the Lausanne Movement and World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission, having lectured widely and published numerous articles and papers on Business as Mission. Mats initiated and co-led the first global think tank on Business as Mission (BAM) 2002 – 2004, and is now co-chairing the second global think tank on BAM: www.bamthinktank.org. His BAM articles and papers are available in English and 14 other languages at http://www.MatsTunehag.com .