Monthly Archives: February 2013

Exchange 2.1: The Journal of Mission and Markets (February 2013)

Volume 2, Number 1 – February 2013

View / download Vol. 2, No. 1 in .pdf format here.

Cover Illustration

Table of Contents

From the Publisher’s Desk – Dave Doty

Feature Article

Rethinking Compassion Ministry – Ben McLeish

BAM Focus

BAM 2.0: A Look at the Next Generation of BAM Activity – Michael Baer

BAM Perspectives

Business in the Context of Our Role in God’s Mission in the World – H. Fernando Bullón (Costa Rica)

Feature Articles

Ministries of Social Entrepreneurship – Rodolpho Carrasco

 Upcoming Events

Lausanne Global Business as Mission Think Tank – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Call2Business Trade Fair – Chiang Mai, Thailand

BAM Profile

Creating ‘Indivisible’ Jobs in Michigan – Rodolpho Carrasco

Agency Marketplace Ministry / BAM Initiative Profile

Reaching least reached peoples using business: The Mission Society’s – Marketplace Ministries Division releases its strategic plan

MPM / BAM Thought Leadership Profile

The Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics (IFWE)

Christian Marketplace Ethics Theology

A Reflection on Biblical Generosity – Dr. Sas Conradie (UK)

The Cleansing of the Temple: Christ Turning a Marketplace Upside-Down – Seth Asher

Workplace Confessions – Steve Marr

Off the Shelf – On Books

The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, by Hernando de Soto ( Reviewer: Rodolpho Carrasco)

Back Matter

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(2.1) From the Publisher’s Desk…

Dear Readers –

I am more excited by this second issue of Exchange than I could have imagined. The diversity of voices to be heard astound me with their poignancy and passion. The Feature Articles come from two whose hearts are committed to incarnational ministry and deeply in love with all God’s children. Others articles flow from many years of study, practice, and even exploratory work in biblical ethics. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.

As I pursue the calling of my own ministry as an information arbitrageur (ala Thomas Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree) in God’s marketplace movement, I am moved to encourage everyone involved – entrepreneur, scholar, and missions practitioner – to embrace a broader scope of meaning than isolating themselves to one particular arena of concern. Tentmaking, coaching and mentoring, business as mission, workplace and workforce ministries: these all are deeply intertwined in the same movement, philosophies, and practices under the umbrella of Marketplace Ministries (MPM).

I am convinced that if we hear only according to the narrowness of our own immediate concerns or discipline within this movement, we will miss how God is speaking to universal meaning of the marketplace in creation and mission. The marketplace, as we commonly share, is THE universal institution in human experience, linking us all as one vibrant organism and, at the same time, operating at the most fundamental levels of human existence in supplying our need of food, clothing, and shelter.

The fundamental element of the divine image is mutuality, engendering perfect cooperation and collaboration. The division of labor presents not just the opportunity for material prosperity but the opportunity to practice holiness as we perform every exchange for the benefit of all and most especially for the revelation of God’s glory.

Shalom,

Dave Doty

Eden’s Bridge

(Back to Table of Contents)

This journal is downloadable in its entirety in .pdf format and all articles are available individually for reading online at http://www.edensbridge.org for ease of sharing. 

Exchange: The Journal of Mission and Markets is a copyrighted publication of Eden’s Bridge, Inc. (a not-for-profit corporation) of 991 Lancelot Drive, Norcross, GA 30071. Exchange and Eden’s Bridge can be reached at davedoty@edensbridge.org. Portions or all of Exchange may be redistributed or reprinted with the single restriction that the original author AND Exchange receive appropriate acknowledgment in any printed or electronic publication or redistribution.

To learn more about Eden’s Bridge, please visit our blog at www.edensbridge.org. Tax deductible support for Eden’s Bridge or sponsorship for Exchange may be mailed to the Eden’s Bridge address above or contributed via the PayPal account of davedoty@edensbridge.org. Thank you for your support and please keep our ministry in prayer. Shalom, Dave Doty.

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BAM Perspectives: Business in the Context of Our Role in God’s Mission in the World

– H. Fernando Bullón (Costa Rica)

It is difficult to separate what Scripture specifically says about business from what God has intended and established as global values and ethics for the whole of human life. If business is taken as a human activity with its own laws functioning autonomously in contradiction with God’s values, we should be warned about trying to force scriptural support for thought, practices and life style of Western civilization – especially that of the liberal tradition in economics.

Business, Work, Life: Mission between Creation and Eschaton

To understand God’s mission in the world we need to take into account his intention for creation, at the genesis of the world and life, as well as his intention for the New Heavens and Earth that he will bring to being at the end of history. For a clear understanding of what occurs between both ends of history, we must perceive his redemptive purpose of all things in Christ, the presence of the Kingdom of God and his sovereignty in all spheres of life. His mission points to the recuperation of what was lost with the fall, as well as the attainment of qualities of life expected in the New Earth, bringing about the values and life expected for the Eschaton. The intervention in history within the focus of the mission of God is enriched by that social imaginary provided in Christian eschatology. The enacting of the values expected for the New Earth in this present life should be a motor to change human history and make this more pleasant in the eyes of God, nearer to His Kingdom values.

The church, as the new covenant people of God, the body of Christ, and a holy nation, is the community of the Kingdom of God; that is to say, the social space where the values of the Kingdom should be incarnated, as a witness to the world; but also, through its mission, the church needs to influence the world through Christian values and qualities of life. This fact introduces the need to think systemically about how we can imagine and influence the body of society, in all its spheres, including ecology, economics, politics, and social relations globally and not only individual or domestic life or micro-community experiments.

“Business as mission” is included in the more global concept of “work as mission”, considering all sorts of vocations, activities, and spheres of knowledge (the “cultural mandate”, Gen 1: 28). However, both are absorbed by the more inclusive concept of “life as mission” which considers human existence in all its dimensions (work and rest, all conscious existence) seen through the focus of the redemptive purpose of God in Christ. In trying to classify human activities, business falls within the more inclusive sphere of economics, a sphere which we are not able to take isolated from others (politics, culture, society, ecosystems). For this reason, we should not treat business or analyze its values without a systemic view of economics; and, as a truly economic theory is indeed a politico-economic theory, economic and business issues should be considered within the broader framework of political and social theories of development. We need to have a coherent perspective on businesses and economics together, and, in our case, associated with the image and values of the Kingdom of God.

Kingdom Principles, Business and Economic Model of Development: A Need of Coherence

I have written in a former paper[1] that according to “New Covenant” Scripture, the model of human life should have a spirit more of essentiality and solidarity (I will not use here of a more “socialist” type because it scares many folk, especially in this world of “liberal businesses”). In fact, talking clearly about human life, subsistence and economics, I would say there are two master economic principles which spring from New Testament scriptures; these are: sufficiency and solidarity (living simply and sharing). From these two principles, others can be derived or associated; in our Christian service, any other principle of economic activity should be subjected to these two master criteria. This should be the emphases and a priority of the BAM movement for all its efforts. It should use or develop such kind of theoretical thought that approaches more to these emphases. I would like to quote some main scriptural passages for this line of economic thought.

To point out the principle of sufficiency, two passages amongst others: “…keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread…” (Pr. 30: 8), “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that…” (1 Tim. 6: 7-8). In terms of the resources existing in the world, whether it is abundance or scarcity, the criteria is to use these to cover the basic needs as a priority (a high priority, being conscious of the present environmental situation and the now well extended discourse on sustainability). From the point of view of what the human person “feels” about his needs, those feelings should be also guided by a criterion of what is essential for maintaining a moderate life style.[2] Of course, there are technical issues: How does one identify “what is enough or sufficient for life” (related to epoch, culture, and other issues related to human development)? It is possible to arrive at a technical understanding of what is this mean or medium level of basic human needs, for today’s world taking into account advances in knowledge.

Some people will say that in Scripture there is no indication of what is enough for a person, be this quantity in terms of goods or money (they quote especially Old Testament writings). They will even refer to passages about God´s desire that our life, as a result of our work and right relation with Him, be full of satisfaction and abundance (Dt. 7:13; 11:13-15; Mal. 3:6-10). That is true, however, there is a clear limit indicated again and again by God on how we dispose of our surpluses: the presence of our needy neighbor, who always will be there (Dt.15:11; Mt. 26:11). A matter of consciousness is put upon us and our resources. We are shown clearly how we should behave as Christians in the Scriptures: “What should we do then? The crowd asked; John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same” (Luke. 3: 10-11).

This connects us directly with the other principle of economic life, solidarity. This principle, according to Christian scriptural perspectives is better enrooted in the figure of the body, the Church, the new people of God. The vision of the new humanity as the body of Christ is interdependence rather than “individual freedom” per se. This implies that rather than “human inventiveness and competitiveness” for personal grandeur of one member or group, what is called for is “excellence, creativity and cooperation for the service of all members of the body and grace with the less able” (I Cor. 12: 21-27; 13: 2-3). And, associated with this vision is the strong emphasis in a virtue only understood by mature people, that of equality: “…Then, there be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have to little’ ” (2 Co. 8: 14-15). To support this strong vision of what the Church should be we discover the ideal, defined clearly for all the ages, in the events narrated in the book of Acts at its own birth: a radical communion (2: 44-46; 4: 32-37).[3]

Conversely, we are told of the danger of false appearances of solidarity, with the case of Ananias and Sapphira (“Didn‟t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God”, Acts 5: 1-11 NIV). We can also point to the case of the Lord’s Supper – the central rite of Christian faith -, narrated in 1 Co. 11: 17-34, where people were insensitive about other’s needs. This passage talks of a judgment coming from the Lord for some people within the church (vv.28-32) because of the lack of solidarity and respect in a community of people who have equal rights before the Lord. This passage does not seem to imply punishment for some other kind of “hidden sin,” as some folk interpreted it.

So, can we not bring this paradigm of values to the marketplace in order to change the system? Why defend the fact that the market can function only under “its own laws” often characterized by savage competitiveness of its greedy values? Can we build a socio-economic system for mature persons and communities, inspired by the values of the Kingdom of God? This inevitably leads us to think about the need for a coherent global model of development for society where first, the kind of business we want to promote should incarnate kingdom values, and flow into, if we don’t want to arrive at a vacuum, a kind of society which also should represent these principles and values. To think and act in any other way would bring confusion and a contradiction of basic Christian perspectives.

I would say that, the values of the Kingdom imply solidarity, without putting freedom to one side. We should endeavor to reform our social systems to form a kind of society more akin to those values. We resist, because often we do not believe that the cross is the symbol that encrypts the way and that the “utopian” ideal of the Kingdom of Heaven is the engine of history, pulling up this world to more justice and equity and welfare for all. Without any doubt, with the apostles as with the Church Fathers, our conception of society should be one where there is freedom of the Spirit and human beings, but of a more socialist type, with more rational planning for the sake of all.

Excellence, Cooperation and Grace Should Displace Destructive Competition

I want to close this reflection by pointing out how we should approach a key issue that is at the base of present liberal economic understanding: the so called principle of competition and competitiveness (“usually to survive in and/or to dominate the market”) which also embraces the whole educational system; associated with this is the use of research and knowledge. From the point of view of Scripture, in the body of Christ and in the social body that should be inspired by Christ, more than competition and competitiveness, what excels are cooperation, mutual consideration, and grace. Excellence and creativity are unquestionable principles but if they are embraced by the all compassing values of love, grace, and sacrificial service, they become real motors of human progress rather than savage and often destructive competition. We need to be aware of those who “are not so able”.

Knowledge must increase in relation to service and love (I Cor. 13:2), for the solution of needs and social ills; rather than trading science and wisdom as commodities in the stock market (or the sacred world of patents, rights, etc. to profit as much as we can). No wonder that with so much knowledge in the world there is no solution to basic problems like famine, diseases, and poverty.[4]

We need to discover clear ways of how to use excellence and knowledge, within the regulating principles of sufficiency and solidarity. Should we use our creativity targeted to produce what will lead to sufficiency (the covering of essential needs), or to produce “whatever” to increase income (even if afterwards we justify our actions because we will use part of this “to help others”)? Must we “create new artificial needs” in the minds of others using all the sophisticated paraphernalia of propaganda? Should we think of economics in terms of being regulated by the paradigmatic Pauline recommendation (1 Tim. 6: 7-8) or will we “use our creativity and competitiveness to create a whole new world to live in abundance” using all the resources of the world in our generation, even, and as we have become powerful, make war on those who do not want to trade with us (v.gr. oil) to sustain our style of life and consumption? Could we not use our special endowment of gifts, excellence and creativity to make a world that will satisfy its needs better, not so much by “increasing production and income”, but by increasing solidarity and redistributing better what already exists? Could we not subject the “ownership” of creation, production, and existence of knowledge to the principle of love and grace, promoting open sources for people to have access to ways of improving the quality of their lives?

Dr. H. Fernando Bullon is a Peruvian-born scholar living in Costa Rica since 1991, where he is professor at the Universidad Evangélica de las Americas (UNELA). He is also a member of the adjunct faculty of the Latin American Doctoral Program (PRODOLA) coordinated from Pasadena CA, USA, and of the Master on Organizational Leadership for Latin America, of The Campolo College of Eastern University, Philadelphia. His work links mission, ethics, social sciences, and development. Dr. Bullon has interdisciplinary formation combining the fields of agro-industrial engineering, anthropology, economics, education, and Latin American studies. He earned his doctorate (Ph.D., 1991) in the Faculty of Economic and Social Studies, University of Manchester, and did specialized studies in Theology and Development at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS), both in Britain. He is a member of the Latin American Theological Fellowship and was part of its Continental Board from 2000-2008. He is the author of “Theological and Technical Approaches about Development in Latin America” (World Vision, 1995), “Mission and Development in Latin America: Challenges on the Threshold of the 21st Century” (Kairos, 2000), “Christian Mission and Social Responsibility “(a three-volume work, Kairos, 2009); and co-author of other books on development and education.

[1] “Kingdom Values and Economic Model of Development: Facing the issue of Poverty and Wealth”. Lausanne Conversation 2010 (http://conversation.lausanne.org/en/resources/detail/10703#.UNOV4eS-qqk).

[2] It is amazing that in the animal world, even accepting the Darwinian struggle for subsistence, this is regulated by what is basic in life. Jesus suggested a confidence that there would be enough to cover needs in his comparison to the freedom of birds with the anxiety and the desire to accumulate of human beings (Mt. 6: 19-21, 25-26); or in the cases of provision due to effects of climate changes (the cases of the ants as well as the policies established by Joseph in Egypt), the leading principle is to have resources to cover basic needs of the population.

[3] Within the studies of ecclesiology, while accepting the changes and adaptations the Church should undergo through the ages, the critics have pointed out that in different periods of history, it has been neglected essential traits of the Church primitive model (v.gr. Hans Kung). Such is the case of the radical nature of its koinonia.

[4] I have written about this issue in “Kingdom values …” op.cit. with regard to how activities like medicine and pharmacy that should be available to human kind have become a business to enrich medical doctors and entrepreneurs.

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BAM Focus: BAM 2.0: A Look at the Next Generation of BAM Activity

–       Michael Baer

(This article was previously presented as a paper at Wheaton College, date unknown. Reprinted here by the author’s permission.)

Like many current practitioners, I stumbled on BAM by accident (providence to my more theologically astute brethren). After 15 years of pastoral ministry and church planting in the US, I longed to be more among the lost and to be able to share the gospel in a way that was perceived as coming from the heart rather than coming from my professional standing. Consequently, I left the pastorate and began a management consulting practice that has since taken me all over the world and proven very successful on both a business and spiritual level. For ten years, I enjoyed being a Christian in the market place and building relationships with the lost, sharing the gospel with them, and seeing several come to Christ. I have to admit, I have enjoyed the role of the faithful layman. However, in the early 90’s, I wrestled with how to integrate fifteen years of pastoral experience, six years of theological training, a successful business career, and a passion for what God was doing in the world.

The answer to those prayers began to come with a trip to the newly independent Republic of Kyrgyzstan (formerly USSR) to set up a teaching program at the Kyrgyz State Medical University. While there, God began to open my eyes to the international potential in business and to its place in his plan to reach the world and glorify himself. What emerged was a MED (micro-enterprise development) program now operating among the unreached in 25 locations around the world (IMED: The Jholdas Project). However, the greater discovery was not just a MED process that works in restricted access countries but also a pursuit of thought about the entire Business-as-Mission (BAM) integration concept that applies to all facets and sizes of business and is not limited to MED (which is just one small slice of the BAM pie). It is from this background that I offer my thoughts on the past, current, and future states of BAM.

It is difficult to define BAM or Kingdom Business or Holistic Entrepreneurialism or whatever you want to call it. Every attempt leaves something out or puts something in that shouldn’t be there. Nevertheless, for the sake of discussion, I posit the following working definition of Business as Mission:

Business-as-Mission is the natural extension of the life of a committed believer through the practice of real business enterprise into the work that God is doing in the world.

What I mean by this is that business (being a divine institution like government, family, etc) is a normal means by which disciples of Christ generate wealth for society and interact with people for the sake of the gospel. As such, BAM isn’t really a new idea at all.

My thesis in this short paper is that the current applications of BAM are evolutionary and not static. The concept is lasting but the rediscovery and use of it is new and becoming newer. Specifically, I would describe the last 10-15 years as BAM 1.0 and argue that we are transitioning now into the next phase, BAM 2.0 (or at least I hope we are because BAM 1.0 has proven woefully inadequate to the task).

BAM 1.0

If you throw out a few historical anomalies (like the Basel International Trading Company), Business-as-Mission has been re-initiated in recent years (circa 1990) primarily as a response to two issues: increasing difficulty in gaining access to closed countries for missions activity and crippling poverty and unemployment among the persecuted converts in these hard to reach places. These factors have impacted the shape of BAM 1.0 tremendously and because it grew out of response to specific problems, BAM has taken a more pragmatic path than a holistic or theological one.

Characteristics

BAM 1.0 has focused on several key areas.

Platform Business. As a visa platform for traditional missionaries, BAM has provided access into restricted areas but in fact has not been a business movement at all; in reality it has served as a kind of “cover story” that has fooled few and compromised many.

Micro Business. There are a few exceptions to this but the vast majority of BAM efforts in the early phase have been “micro” in nature—either micro-finance, micro-credit, or micro-enterprise development. The definition of micro is still being debated but it usually refers to businesses started among target peoples with a capital infusion or loan less than $5000 (US).

Training. Many have traveled abroad to do business seminars in the name of Christ and dubbed this BAM.

Fragmentation: The fourth characteristic of BAM 1.0 is its fragmented structure. While various agencies, consultations, and universities have sought to exercise some kind of control, guidance, or unifying influence, the reality is that BAM is a globally fractured activity. There are no shared definitions, no agreed metrics of success, no governing organizations or associations. It has been and still is very much the “wild west.”

My summary of these efforts, of which I have been a part, is this: they are well-intended efforts to use business in any way possible to further traditional missionary activities. Their success is measured in terms of visas granted, churches planted, people trained, etc. In other words, it is not so much business-as-mission as it is business supporting missions.

Impact

The fact that BAM 1.0 has not yet achieved all its potential is not to say that it has not had positive impact for the cause of Christ. Here are a few to consider.

Access. Visas have been granted on the basis of business related activities. The English Training School, the micro-enterprise incubator, the coffee shop, have all served their stated end.

Community Development. Poverty alleviation has also been a major result of BAM in its early stages. Micro-finance, micro-credit, and micro-enterprise development efforts have proliferated in reached, least reached, and unreached areas.

Indigenous Church Planting. A third positive impact of BAM 1.0 has been equipping local believers to financially support their own indigenous churches apart from western paternalism. Primarily through MED, hundreds (perhaps thousands) of cottage businesses have begun with the purpose to enable local giving, local accountability, and local church planting.

Western Church Impact. Additionally, the church in the west has been awakened to entirely new avenues of global service. Thousands of business persons, hitherto relegated to walking checkbooks, have been meaningfully engaged in foreign service and world evangelization. The personal and ecclesiastical impact has been profound and, in fact, may be the overall greatest achievement of early BAM work.

Challenging the Status Quo. Finally, BAM dialogue has begun. Earlier I asserted that BAM 1.0 grew as a pragmatic solution to specific problems rather than a holistic and biblical movement growing out of a renewed understanding of the “integrated life.” I am happy to say that, although embryonic, this dialogue is beginning in earnest and is very much the result of what has gone before.

Struggles and Shortcomings

Like all young movements, BAM 1.0 has struggled with many challenges and has yet to successfully address many of them. Among those challenges are…

Short Term Focus. Most BAM activities to date have involved the use of short-term western teams to teach, coach, finance, or otherwise help with business start-ups under the guidance of long-term missionaries. There are precious few examples of those who have taken the long-term view and established rooted, local business operations that will stand the test of time. One consequence of this is that tracking meaningful fruit is sketchy and anecdotal at best.

Minimal Job Creation.  As a practitioner of MED for 16 years it is painful to admit that MED creates relatively few jobs. It does lift people out of poverty and empower local church planting, but in terms of scalable, exponential job creation (the great need), it has not delivered.

Minimal ROI. Actually, it would be more accurate to say negative ROI. A simple analysis would tell us that the time and money spent in BAM 1.0 has not covered that investment, much less yielded profit. That is not to say that there is no value in churches growing and people coming to faith at all; it is to say that if an activity produces negative operating income year after year, whatever it is, it is not business.

Lack of Scalability. As with job creation and ROI, BAM 1.0 has not produced a scalable model. It still requires more money, more people, more trips to produce arithmetic results.

Confusion over Ownership. Who owns BAM? Who leads it? There seems to be a competition among all involved to emerge as the BAM Congress. Churches, individual business people, entrepreneurs, mission agencies all see the value and all seem to feel the need to lead the herd. This contributes largely to the fragmented nature of BAM 1.0.

Semi-Dualism. We talk the language that says business needs no legitimization, that as a calling from God and a divine institution it is already as legitimate as the family, schools, medicine, etc. But the reality is that we are still stuck very much in a sacred-secular dichotomy. Even the term “business-as-mission” (ironically the title of my book) belies a certain attitude that only as business is connected to missions does it gain a healthy spiritual status. I would contend that until we embrace business period we have not yet made it to BAM 2.0.

So there is my survey of BAM 1.0. My contention is that it is alive, it works, and it needs to evolve.

BAM 2.0

I am no futurist and I am not suggesting that we need a Future Shock: The BAM Version. However, I’m willing to posit a few ideas about what the next phase of BAM will (or should) look like.

Characteristics

Larger, More Scalable Enterprise. If BAM remains primarily a MED activity, then the challenges outlined above will not go away. However, I believe that we are going to see more and larger enterprises enter the game. Whether these are well capitalized startups in target countries or financially backed expansions from existing western companies into target areas, BAM 2.0 must become the movement of businesses that can create sustainable value and scalable employment, interact with senior government officials, bring return to shareholders and stakeholders alike, and still remain true to biblical, kingdom operating principles.

Independent and Invisible. I also believe that BAM 2.0 will be led by kingdom minded entrepreneurs in a much more independent way than we have seen. This is not to say that there will be no fellowship or cooperation between the missionary community, the church, and these businesses; there will and there should be. However, one will not be seen as a subset of the other.

At the same time, while current MED activities are highly visible and promoted (by churches and agencies alike), larger more expansive business operations (like the few that are out there today) will operate invisibly (at least invisible from the “watching Christian world”). They will certainly be visible by their good works and words where they exist but they will see no need to advertise their BAM status to legitimize themselves and therefore, as with all true business, they won’t waste their time or money doing it.

Holistic. BAM 2.0 will become much more holistic—delighting in the operation of a business as an expression of worship in a truly integrated way. As long as we are fallen, we will still struggle with the sacred-secular confusion that has plagued the church since her inception; however, as more and more spiritually mature business leaders engage the world market and the world mission field, the gap in thought will decrease.

More Global; Less Western. So far, most recognized BAM activities have been western in origin. The U.S. and the UK have led the way in launching BAM activities. Certainly there has been a large impact made out of SE Asia as well; Singapore, Korea, and Malaysia have been heavily involved. BAM 2.0 will be thoroughly global and thoroughly international. Commerce is; why should BAM be any different? This, oddly enough, will present a huge challenge to western operators who seem to think they must be at the forefront of every movement.

Long Term Focus. Large business enterprise does not lend itself to short-term operations. While MED will continue and thus its use of the short-term team, large operations by virtue of their size and investment horizon will move BAM into a much more permanent position. This will bring blessing on several fronts—ongoing employment, employee development, community and societal impact, deepened understanding of culture, etc.

Future Challenges

As BAM morphs into its next form, I see at least four significant challenges the concept will face that are different from those it has faced thus far.

Recognition as Legitimate. To date, it is the “M” part of BAM that has enabled the Christian community to stretch to recognize its legitimacy. They have not yet truly seen business as legitimate in its own right. Larger, long term kingdom businesses will not look nearly as “Christian” as their MED predecessors. They will have bottom lines to hit, shareholders to reward, customers to satisfy, as well as individuals to impact. This general lack of recognition is uncomfortable but that is not what concerns me. The church in the west is already struggling to find relevance to the post-modern world (and post-modern believers). If she withholds her “blessing” these disciple-entrepreneurs will find their fellowship elsewhere.

Over-Integration. As a proponent of the seamless integration of faith and life, I worry that BAM 2.0, by virtue of its independence and size, will face a strong temptation to contextualize itself so thoroughly that it will cease to be salt and light. There is no clear line where this takes place and most likely it is different for different enterprises. But the danger is real.

Isolation. Similar to over-integration, the size and independence of BAM 2.0 organizations could create a kind of separation or isolation from the rest of the believing (missionary model) communities where they exist. From the missionary side they will mistrust and misunderstand BAM leaders; from the BAM side, they will find very little in common other than their faith (not unlike in the U.S.). BAM leaders will need to make concerted effort to create avenues of fellowship.

Lack of Equipping. For a variety of reasons, the western church is better at using business people than equipping them for active service in the context of their work. Pastors often distrust business and fail to understand it; others feel they have been delivered from it. The church of the 21st century must find ways to feed and develop men and women in business with a global mindset or they will lose these leaders to organizations that will do so.

Conclusion

I have tried to take my nearly 20 year perspective to provide a survey of what BAM has been (BAM 1.0) with its successes and failures and to propose what it may look like as it evolves (BAM 2.0). The accuracy of my observations and predictions is somewhat irrelevant; the need to evolve and mature as a movement is not.

Mike Baer is the founder of the Jholdas Group (1998). For over 30 years, Mike has launched and grown businesses in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia. He has served as a pastor, entrepreneur, business executive, and business coach in the US and several other countries. Mike has been a leader in Business as Mission since the early 1990s and is the author of Business as Mission: The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God (YWAM, 2006) and a variety of journal articles. He is currently an active participant in the Lausanne Global Business-as-Mission Think Tank. Mike holds a BA from Flagler College and a ThM from Dallas Seminary.

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Feature Article: Rethinking Compassion Ministry: God’s Precedent, Paradigm and Prescriptions

– Ben McLeish

Allow me to set a very common scenario: The church office phone rings and the person on the other line asks “Do y’all help pay peoples’ rent?” or “Do y’all pay water bills?” to which I always say no.  Others stop by the office seeking similar assistance.  Inviting them into my office, I work through a questionnaire that quickly paints a picture of brokenness.

In their book When Helping Hurts: How To Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting The Poor And Yourself, Corbett and Fikkert describe poverty as a broken relationship between God, self, others, and the rest of creation which has negative effects on how one navigates social, religious, political, and economic systems. With each person who is asking something of us or from us, this definition of poverty is clearly at work. However, the truth be told, all we really have to do is look in the mirror to see this paradigm of poverty.  We are all broken at one level or another.  In light of this, God, through His Word and Son, has provided a precedent, paradigm and prescription for us, His Church, to enter into the work He is doing in redeeming and restoring all things; a work that ultimately produces joy. McLeish graphic

Biblical Precedent

The foundation of a changed life is coming to faith in Christ.  After all, it is He who is at work reconciling all things to Himself (Colossians 1:19). However, we see all throughout redemptive history God’s care and concern not just for the spiritual but the physical as well.  The law is full of commands to live a holy life and part of that is to care for the orphan, widow, fatherless, materially poor and stranger.  When describing the use of righteousness in the Proverbs, Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke says “The wicked disadvantage others to advantage themselves, but the righteous disadvantage themselves to advantage others.” This truth is ultimately lived out in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.  As stated in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”  The Bible is full of examples, accounts and commands about loving God and our neighbor.

As a people who have undeservedly received the riches of Christ such as eternal life, mercy and grace, this should move us to a life of compassion and mercy towards others, particularly the materially poor.   In a recent sermon, New York pastor, Tim Keller said,

A deep social conscious and a life poured out in deeds of service to others, and especially the poor, is the inevitable sign of real faith and real connection with God.  If you think, God says, that you have a real connection with me, you have humbled yourself and you have found me and yet you don’t care about the poor then you haven’t. This is a real index of your heart. Justice is the grand symptom of real faith. It’s the great symptom of a real relationship with God. And it will be there, maybe slowly, but it will develop. But if it never develops then you really don’t have the relationship with God that you think you have…Do you understand that this is at the heart of Biblical faith?

Why was Sodom judged? We often point to their lewd behavior but that only tells part of the story. In Ezekiel 16:49 the prophet proclaims “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” This could easily be attributed to the American Church and those who fill the pews. The Church and her people are guilty of the same sin of Sodom, but guilt alone will not solve the problem. It will not move the materially non-poor from apathy to action for very long. A lack of appreciation along with no quick fixes will fast turn guilt into bitterness and resentment toward the materially poor making things just feel more hopeless for all who are involved. As Corbett and Fikkert comment, this only reinforces the God complex in the materially non-poor and the marred identity of the materially poor.

Paradigm

However, if Christ is redeeming all things, this means work too. When we look to the scriptures the very first thing we read about is God working: “In the beginning God created…”  Soon after, God assigns Adam to work caring for His creation as a botanist, agriculturalist and zoologist. All of this happens before the Fall ever occurs.  So in our original, pre-Fall condition work was good and a part of the original design to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. When sin entered, it was not just our relationship with God and each other that broke, but even work:

Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the   plants of the field. “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 3:17b-19.

The effects of the fall were all inclusive and utterly devastating so we find ourselves in Romans 8:22 with “the whole creation…groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

It is also interesting to note John the Baptist’s commissioning.  We often associate him with a call to repentance, but Luke tells us that he was also called to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.” This is quoted from Malachi 4:6 where it reads “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” The lack of fathers whose hearts are turned to their child is alarming in my community.  Many children have not even met their dads.  It can often seem like my neighborhood has been struck “with a decree of utter destruction” as a result.  As a father of three young children, it is unfathomable to me for my heart not to be turned towards my children.  However, for a myriad of reasons this seems not to be the case in my community. Is it because these fathers really do not care about their progeny?  I have never met such an individual.  Instead I witness an overwhelming sense of shame that is due in part to being unemployed or underemployed and all the effects of powerlessness, hopelessness, self-loathing, embarrassment, rejection, desperation and insignificance that follow and often lead to negative behaviors.  This leaves the two of the greatest repellents to poverty, work and intact families, busted.

Dr. Carl Ellis comments that for discipleship efforts among at-risk, minority populations, there is a pronounced need for the church to address dignity, identity and significance if we are to have any hope of seeing conversions, reversing generational poverty and “turning the hearts of fathers to their children.” Yet most churches and Christian non-profits rarely see this central to Gospel ministry.

Prescription One: Penicillin for Paternalism

We must all start with a look in the mirror.  As practitioners, pastors, church members or  middle or upper class laity, we easily run the risk of thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought. We would do good to take heed of the apostle Paul’s admonition to the Church at Philippi, 

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:1-4

Paternalism is deadly to the work among the materially poor and an anti-apologetic to the Gospel.  It only perpetuates the God complex in us and reinforces the marred identity of the materially poor. The work of sifting through our paternalism, racism or classism in our own stories is tedious and is often worked out over time but accelerated when we enter into authentic friendships with people different from us, particularly the materially poor, and allow them to graciously point out our deficits.  Proverbs 27:6 declares, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

Prescription Two: A Dose of Dignity

Many Christian community development practitioners, such as Bob Lupton (author of Toxic Charity), have brought light to the fact that many of our models of compassion or mercy are broken, often leaving people inappropriately dependent on our programs to survive and stripping them of any remaining dignity.  The reality, though, is that handouts are much easier than entering into authentic relationships with the materially poor; relationships that can often be marked by long-suffering, let down and hopelessness though certainly joy, generosity, courage, and faith too.

Jobs for Life (JFL), describes the common scenario for most churches in their promotional video. They describe how churches often lead with food, housing and shelter when caring for the materially poor and rarely include work in their paradigm of assistance.  JFL offers a 8 week, 16 class curriculum to help equip people to enter into or improve their position in the marketplace.  With topics including conflict resolution, resume writing, skills assessment, interview skills and more, this program equips participants for success in the workforce.  The linchpin, though, is the mentor component.  JFL uses mentors, known as champions, to serve as a coach, encourager, reference and a network for participants.

A similar approach is taken with the Chalmers Institute’s Faith and Finances curriculum and Launch Chattanooga’s small business development curriculum.  With both programs, the core subject matter is taught through a biblically based curriculum and participants are matched with mentors to walk alongside them.  Together, these three programs offer the Church excellent tools to affirm the dignity, identity and significance of the materially poor while encouraging mentoring relationships that are marked by mutual indebtedness.

These are just a sample of best practices that are being implemented to provide a dignified solution to help alleviate and eradicate poverty. Others have launched businesses or hired at-risk teens or ex-offenders. The point is the old methods of clothes closets, Thanksgiving turkey giveaways, food pantries and Christmas toy giveaways are lacking, and often hurting those they intended to help.  New models of development must be implemented.

Joy

In Isaiah 58, the Lord instructs Israel, “Is not this the fast that I choose:  to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him.”

Listen, though, to the promises God offers if we partake in such a fast:

  • your light shall break forth like the dawn
  • your healing shall spring up speedily
  • your righteousness shall go before you
  • the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard
  • you shall call, and the Lord will answer
  • you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
  • your light shall rise in the darkness
  • your gloom will be as the noonday
  • the Lord will guide you continually
  • He will satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong;
  • you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

I urge you to not settle for a mediocre, lukewarm, Christian life. Do not internalize the Christian radio station mentality of “safe for the whole family.” There is no joy to be found there. C.S. Lewis remarked,

If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

There is also no Biblical mandate for our good works, which God has prepared for us, to be efficient, clean, tidy and safe. The Psalmist declares that a “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” Together let us find ourselves in the margins, the place empire has abandoned, the place of God’s holy habitation.

Ben McLeish – Since graduating in 2002 from the University of Georgia with a Masters in Non-profit management,  Ben McLeish has served in the inner-city of New Orleans.  Initially on staff with Desire Street Ministries, Ben was a part of a team that helped launch St. Roch Community Church (SRCC) in New Orleans’ 8th Ward in 2007.  At it’s core, SRCC is about loving God and loving their neighbor.  In his current role as Diaconal Ministries Director, he helps oversee the purse (fundraising & business operations), property (building up-keep) and people who are materially poor and seeking assistance. Ben also serves as the executive director for St. Roch CDC, a community development corporation that SRCC launched in 2008.   Ben and  his wife, Stephanie, are also helping launch a public charter school called Homer A. Plessy Community School. They, along with their three young children, live in the 8th Ward of New Orleans. 

St. Roch CDC – In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the community development needs of the 8th and 9th wards of New Orleans were endless.  In light of the overwhelming task at hand, St. Roch Community Church launched a community development corporation, called St. Roch CDC, to address the felt needs of the community.  Since its inception, St. Roch CDC has completely renovated six units of housing and four commercial spaces, including an art gallery and program space for the church. Additionally the CDC provided assistance with small project repairs for dozens of homeowners and helped advocate for several public and infrastructure improvements.  The CDC served as an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site for several years serving over 300 clients.  In 2009, the CDC started teaching financial literacy and has since served over 60 clients. In 2012, the first jobs training course was offered and saw eight graduates. The CDC has also provided technical assistance to three start-up non-profits and a new art gallery owner. As the CDC moves forward, it is working to bolster its efforts with financial literacy, jobs training and small business development. To learn more, please visit www.strochcdc.org

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Christian Marketplace Ethics Theology: Workplace Confessions

–                  Steve Marr

What do Tiger Woods, Jimmy Swaggart, Anthony Weiner, and Lance Armstrong have in common?  They all publically confessed wrongdoing within the context of their work.  It raises an important question:  When is it appropriate to make a public confession at work?

It is a critical issue in today’s workplace where many believe we need to make a strong appearance.  The underlying fear is that if we admit mistakes, we show weakness and lose authority. Scripture offers us a better path. King Solomon wrote, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” (Proverbs 28:13, NASB).

The other day I forgot to call someone back as I had promised. My colleague followed up by asking, “How did that call go?” “Oops!” I thought. My first instinct was to brush off the question rather than appear inefficient. Instead, I confessed what I did.  “I haven’t made the call yet.  I will rectify that now. Thank you for reminding me.”

When we confess we accomplish four things: 

Confession obeys God’s word. — The Lord cannot bless us or our work unless we are obedient.  The help or protection we need is always on the other side of obedience.  We shortchange ourselves when we do not obey.

Confession reduces stress. — We create unnecessary pressure for ourselves if we have to cover up our mistakes, large or small.  We have to keep a lie going, a lie that says we didn’t do anything wrong.  We live with the fear that someone will blow our cover.  No one needs that kind of pressure.

Confession establishes trust with others. — If we are open and honest about our mistakes, others see that honesty as a reason to trust us more. Every cover up is a lie.  Eventually, someone will recognize it.  Then, it affects the trust level among work associates and compromises leadership.

Confession helps others to be more honest. — Confession is one tool that creates a business culture that will encourage others to be more open about confessing problems and shortcomings. Every business looks for ways to improve.  When you have workers who are ready to admit mistakes, you can take quick action to correct it.

Confession is the first step to take when we fall short of an accepted standard.  King Solomon was wise indeed when he wrote that we must forsake our transgressions, especially in the workplace. We must confess and apologize if we are late for work.  Then, we must change whatever it takes to arrive on time in the future. The Lord expects us to amend our lives, to change. With the empowering help of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome our weaknesses, make positive changes, and grow the way the Lord desires.

In addition to confessing our wrong attitudes and actions, we need to offer restitution when we fall short. Scripture provides a model for making restitution in this way: “then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found.” (Leviticus 6:4, NASB) Simply put, restitution is accepting the full consequences for our actions rather than asking others to bear those consequences.

If you fail to ship a product on time, do you just say, “I’m sorry,” but do nothing about it? Do you need to pay for expedited shipping, offer a discount, or provide some other service so that the customer does not pay the price for your error? Taking full responsibility for an error in judgment or broken agreement makes us feel uncomfortable.  We feel awkward and embarrassed to let others know that we responded or acted in a way that compromised a standard.  However, we can use these times as motivation to improve.

Some believe that the only confession we need to make is to the Lord. This is the first and most important step. Solomon was clear when he said, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper.” As I read this scripture, it is clear that if we are not to “conceal” our transgressions; it must involve some form of confession to others as well as God.

The process of confession, addressing the behavior that caused the problem, and making restitution as necessary is not easy. I certainly don’t like it when I have to follow this process. However, I have learned that as I embrace confession, the Lord helps change me.  The result is that I think carefully about the actions that might require confession and resist them, requiring confession less often.

Confession needs to become a way of life. This includes confessing to an employer, staff member, peers, customers, family members, and others. The key principle is that obedience to God’s word requires it. We may be tempted to ignore confession when we have authority over others. For example if we mess up an order with a supplier, we may decide to cancel the business rather than admit our mistake.  However, the Lord makes no distinction between those in authority or those serving.  We are to confess every time to everyone offended. 

Sometimes we receive the confession of someone else.  When the person accompanies it with the necessary behavior change and restitution, we need to offer complete forgiveness, in the same way that the Lord forgives us.  John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NASB) As the Lord forgives us, we must also offer forgiveness.

Most of us don’t like to admit when we are wrong. However, confession, even when it is painfully public, motivates us to take the steps to correct the issue in the future.  Restitution brings resolution that allows growth.  While we may always find reasons for confession, the more we confess, the less we want to place ourselves in that uncomfortable position and that results in less need for confession in the future.  

Steve Marr is the former CEO of fourth largest import and export company in the United States. He is the author of Proverbs for Business, Roadmap to Success, Integrity in the Workplace and 300 published articles. Steve’s web site is http://www.stevemarr.org. 

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Feature Article: Ministries of Social Entrepreneurship

–       Rodolpho Carrasco

(Originally published June 29, 2011 at www.urbanfaith.com.)

In a tough economy, Christian nonprofits need fresh ways to stay afloat, especially those working in poor communities. Here’s how social entrepreneurship is funding the work of grassroots urban ministers.

This Means Business

Homegirl Cafe in downtown Los Angeles is a successful model of social entrepreneurship. Staffed by female gang members trying to leave their past behind, its part of Homeboy Industries.

America’s economic woes have made grassroots urban ministers open to new ways of doing things. Fundraising has always been a challenge, and now more so. Common conversation topics in urban ministry circles include cutting positions, scaling back programs, and working more efficiently.

One topic stands out. The idea of starting a business to fund an urban ministry is not just hallway conversation or Facebook chat fodder. People really want to know. Even people who are critics of Big Business or Capitalism are hungry to make private enterprise work for their cause.

If you are thinking about launching a business to supplement your ministry’s bottom line, it’s important to understand both the concept of social entrepreneurship and the management capacity of the typical grassroots urban minister.

Social Entrepreneurship

The mash-up of urban ministry and business can best be engaged through the world of social entrepreneurship.

Social entrepreneurship is a term with a variety of definitions. One prominent description is that of Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning founder of Grameen Bank, a pioneer in microfinance. In his most recent book, Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs, Yunus writes:

Social entrepreneurship relates to a person. It describes an initiative of social consequences for a social purpose. This initiative may be a non-economic initiative, a charity initiative, or a business initiative with or without personal profit. Some social entrepreneurs house their projects within traditional nongovernmental organizations while others are involved in for-profit activities.

Take Yunus’s definition, add the desire to see people come to faith and life in Jesus Christ, and you have a grassroots urban minister. To illustrate this, three groups stand out.

Belay Enterprises, a faith-based nonprofit in Denver, creates businesses to employ and job train individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness, and prison. Last year 75 people worked in Belay’s businesses that include Bud’s Warehouse, a home improvement thrift store. While structured as a nonprofit, Belay realized over half a million dollars in revenue from sales, with very little by way of donor cash contributions. Jim Reiner, executive director of Belay, says they are growing a fund for new businesses that will increase the number of people employed or job trained per year from 75 to 750 by 2015. (Full disclosure: Partners Worldwide, the organization for which I work, co-hosted an event with Belay last month.)

Central Detroit Christian (CDC) created Peaches and Greens as a way to provide fresh produce to neighbors living in a vast urban food desert. The Peaches and Greens operation has both a storefront location and a mobile truck that sell fresh goodness throughout the community. Lisa Johanon, executive director of CDC and an incarnated resident, told NPR’s Michel Martin that prior to the creation of Peaches and Greens she had to drive ten miles for produce.

Social Entrepreneurship in Action

Through Homeboy Industries, ex-gangbangers like women at Homegirl Cafe receive job training and employment opportunities, in addition to a new start spiritually.

Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, founded by Jesuit priest Father Greg Boyle, addresses the issue of street gangs through job training and business opportunities. Homeboy made news last year when it was forced to lay off more than 75% of its staff — 300 people, many in the target outreach group — because of budget cuts. Remarkably, the 60 people who were not laid off worked in Homeboy’s bakery, which was profitable and self-sustaining, and therefore capable of weathering the cuts. Since that desperate time, with the help of some compassionate and deep-pocketed friends, Homeboy Industries has rebounded and continues to provide job training and employment opportunities for ex-gangbangers in the L.A. community. (It should be noted that while Catholic faith is at the core of Boyle’s motivation, Homeboy itself does not publicly emphasize its faith roots. It is, however, an appropriate example of social entrepreneurship in my estimation.)

Most urban ministries I know – certainly those involved with groups like the Christian Community Development Association – operate and achieve as Belay, Central Detroit, and Homeboy do. If you have only seen yourself as a pastor or minister, you should recognize that you are already a type of entrepreneur that the world desperately needs.

Management Capacity

The key to a successful social enterprise is the combination of “cause” and “good” management. The key to running a business that does good while feeding your ministry’s bottom line is the same combination.

We all have causes we are passionate about. It’s the management part of the equation that poses a challenge.

Larger urban ministries will face less of a challenge in managing a business than will grassroots groups. Sustaining a multi-million dollar operation like a rescue mission, for example, requires significant management capacity and skill. That same capacity can be redeployed or expanded to a business effort.

Smaller ministries that have survived for many years should also have some capacity to manage a new business endeavor. An outreach program with a few full-time staff has less capacity than a large nonprofit, but can still tap its network and management experience in running a business.

It’s the small grassroots groups — which are often our most innovative as well as fearless ministers — that need to truly count the cost of launching a business to fund their ministries.

I know of many effective urban ministries that are essentially one charismatic leader surrounded by a host of friends and allies. Often the leader is not paid full-time, and many times draws no salary from his work.

One man I know has a van that he uses to take aimless youth to church gatherings around his town. He uses a ministry name, but that ministry is not incorporated.

Transforming Lives

Father Gregory Boyle, founder and director of Homeboy Industries, and his team have developed one of the largest gang-intervention programs in the nation.

Another man, an ex-gang-member, rode his bike around town, making contact with younger gangsters and talking to them about avoiding future trouble. He was connected to a number of networks and coalitions, to which he funneled many gangsters for intervention or services.

In this type of operation there is very little organizational and financial management being practiced, and therefore little on which an organization can be developed. When it does come time to grow the organization, to strengthen management and plans, the charismatic leader will either need to grow or get out of the way.

It is entirely possible for this grassroots urban minister, no matter how little formal education he or she has, to develop into a nonprofit organizational leader or business person. But it will require a lot of hard work to get there. Even more, it will first require an act of will, a choice, to grow in an area the individual may not have a passion for.

But if you want to operate a business that functions as a business and generates a profit for use in ministry, there is no way around it: You will have to learn the management skills and discipline that any successful businessperson has.

Even if you bring on somebody to run the business you will need to learn business. How else will you know if the person you have brought on is doing a good job? Or not cheating the enterprise?

For Those Who Take the Plunge

My prayer is that great numbers of grassroots urban ministers choose to grow their business skills and launch enterprises. Take the good work you do — socially beneficial work that impacts the lives of many of the least, the last, and the lost — and combine business skills to create things like well-paying jobs and needed services for urban communities. When it gets hard, don’t get discouraged.

For years, I’ve felt like my work as an urban minister was harder than the work of an average business owner, because I had more bottom lines to attend to.

Whereas a non-performing employee in a business might quickly get fired, in a ministry setting I would give that person extra opportunity to succeed. Some businesses make this type of extra effort but, in general, urban ministries are much more likely to “give a second chance” — and a third chance — than a straight business would.

Even more, our ministries often hire people that no business would hire. And yet we need to keep our doors open and maintain a basic level of financial sustainability.

You’ve trusted God in reaching out to the least, the last, and the lost. Trust Him again to help you develop the business sense and management skills you will need to grow a business that helps fund your ministry.

Rudy Carrasco is the U.S. Regional Facilitator for Partners Worldwide, an advisory board member of TechMission and the Christian Community Development Association, and managing director of Two Forty Group, an urban ministry consultancy. His articles have been published in Christianity Today, Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, Discipleship Journal, and Youthworker. He is a member of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Alumni Hall of Fame and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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