Monthly Archives: April 2013

Sawasdee-cup from a Chiang Mai Global BAM Congress Delegate

Sawasdee (pronounced sa-wa-dtee) cup (spoken by men, Sawasdee ca by women) is the most common Thai greeting, stated with both hands flat together in front of the chest and a slight bow. It originates from the Sanskrit and means “well being,” much as shalom does in Hebrew.

As I await my departure to the airport to began the long journey home to Atlanta, Georgia, it is not at all difficult to know where to begin in reflecting on the Global BAM (business-as-mission) Congress that just wrapped up yesterday (April 28, 2012) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I must begin in worship and praise for our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. If ever I have been encouraged and energized for God’s mission in the world, this conference was likely my greatest experience on those lines. It was humbling to meet so many who are laying down their lives for those suffering the dehumanizing life of poverty, and especially those victimized by human trafficking.

Some 530 delegates gathered from more countries than I can recount (I am sure a final tally will eventually become known) from all around the world from every continent save Antarctica. The keynote speakers and break out session presenters addressed the issue group concerns as each group prepares to submit final reports in June after a year long, transnational virtual think tank collaboration. There were sixteen issue groups in all (see at and it became apparent there could easily have been groups developed around many, many more! I was blessed to have taken part in two issue groups during the think tank phase – advocacy and mobilization (how do we get the global Church engaged in being Christ in and through the marketplace?) and biblical models (laying a sound theological and biblical foundation on which a solid “house” of BAM can be constructed as we go forward). If you have read much of my blog, you know the biblical and theological cases are very near my heart. I have said repeatedly, “You would never build a house without a sure foundation, but this one is being built on the Rock.”

More importantly than even the thought work to come of it, the Congress was about creating new and solidifying old connections among colleagues in the business-as-mission movement. Before, between, and after sessions, it seemed I found myself in one-to-one meetings, all but one entirely unplanned but perfectly arranged and timed by the Holy Spirit, from breakfast to midnight almost everyday. I now have covenant bonds with a church-planting brother in Pakistan, a pastor-cum-BAMmer transitioning in South Korea, and an academic leader from Down Under, to note but three. But there are many more I spent time with, sharing in the glow of Christ’s presence among us and seeking his guidance as we move together, many workers joined to one commitment: the Kingdom of God, coming even now on earth as it is in heaven. It is apparent, God has a purpose in all and each of these new relationships.

The worship sessions each morning were among the most anointed I have ever experienced. There was no division of denominations or national boundaries here. Here was one voice, of many origins, nations, and languages, joined together, five hundred strong, lifting praises to a God more glorious and loving than we can ever imagine. If nothing else occurred in Chiang Mai, that Christ was lifted up assures us that the Word goes forth and we are promised that it shall not return void of accomplishing everything God desires.

I spent a bit of time shopping in the night market where street vendors, traditional stores, and restaurants cater to local residents and tourists alike. The sights, the sounds, the bright lights and electronic billboards, and the bustling bodies moving between the curb-parked vendor carts and the storefronts, mixed with the sudden appearance but ever present temples strewn throughout the city, all lent to an energy and feel typical of Asian life.

But nearby, and far too prevalent, the karaoke bars and massage parlors, fronts for extensive prostitution, sadly a major tourist “attraction” in Thailand, are never far from one’s awareness while observing this dynamic city. Of hope, however, a small café, the Zion Café, sits right next door to a brothel just around the corner from the Congress’ hotel. You see, the Zion Café is a Christian business, a business-as-mission, an intentionally planted business that seeks out and welcomes the young women of its surrounding neighborhood into a safe, embracing relationship and space amidst a local culture, broken like so many others around the world. A new friend and I ate dinner there our first night in the city. It was as if breathing fresh, mountain air after coming in from an oppressing smog. Here, in the Zion Café, an unassuming corner restaurant nestled in the din of Chiang Mai, a ground-zero point itself in the center of the East, the Light of Christ shines forth. Please keep the wonderful folk operating the Zion Café in your prayers for surely they were called to this city, this neighborhood, and this very building for such a time as this, as a line of rescue thrown out to all God’s children.

I have said several times in the last two days that when I arrive home, sometime tomorrow, it will take me thirty minutes to unpack my luggage and six months to unpack the BAM Congress. More likely, and I hope it is so, it will take me the rest of my life!

I met some folk here who, to me, are giants in the global BAM and tentmaking movements – Mats, Jo, Patrick, Dwight, Peter, and too many others to even recall offhand. Some I had communicated with before electronically but it was grand to put a face, a voice, a smile, and a handshake with the name and person I had come to know before. Some I met for the first time. In every case, I was blessed by their humility and tirelessness. These folk are true heroes comparable to David’s mighty men in Israel. I was humbled as well by how little my faith and service to God, the Church, and the world has cost me practically and in risk compared to these venturing boldly and directly in through the gates of hell, assured that that those gates will not prevail against the Church but always mindful of the evil intent and wiliness of Satan.

You might note that I did not include their last names here. Most of those named are people who need not be too concerned but many of the Congress delegates live very dangerous lives in places where Christians are routinely persecuted and even run the risk of a death sentence if found out. There was even a subtle “sign” each one wore that revealed to us all, as we moved about our sessions and common spaces in the hotel, that these folk need our prayers and a discerning level of sensitive protection from the rest of us. We were repeatedly exhorted not to photograph them nor to post Congress photos online. The Congress organizing committee will publish a great deal but not until every photograph and document has been thoroughly vetted to protect these precious, anonymous servants of Christ.

In the end, I will summarize (for now!): Since beginning my own journey with Christ into the marketplace in 1993, I have been convinced it is land ripe for Kingdom reclamation and dear to God’s heart. That I was, at that time, being drawn into a global movement of the Holy Spirit, I was entirely unaware for a decade. But while I was in seminary, God drew to me begin studying and understanding his economic plan for humankind and the rest of creation. That journey led to the publication of Eden’s Bridge: The Marketplace in Creation in Mission last year, and led me to Chiang Mai this month. I have never seriously questioned that I was being caught up in God’s marketplace movement but if anyone attending the Congress came with even a hint of doubt, surely they are leaving not only with no doubt but also a revived energy to be a blessing to all nations through the wealth-creating power of the marketplace and the just use of all God’s blessings among the global poor.

I, and many, many others, will be encouraging marketplace ministry participation by the whole body of Christ in the coming months and years. We will be preparing and presenting seminars, vision tours, and information portals to help you on your journey into these areas, as you are so called by God. Seek the Lord’s heart and wisdom and seek us out. We are prepared, having heard the call, and said “Yes and Amen, Lord, send me.” There are many of us who can help you connect to “the front lines” of this aggressive war in an arena too long influenced (and largely “owned”) by the enemy. You can contact me directly through my website ( or any number of other organizations you will find if you simply Google “business as mission.”

That is all for now but there is surely more to come for so much is yet to be said. Be blessed and intentionally be a blessing “unto all the nations.” Shalom. – Dave. 


Filed under Faith in the Marketplace

An Overview of Marketplace Ministry (MPM) Models

Eleven Integrated Models, Transforming the World through the Marketplace

(Please also read Bridge Ministry: The Twelfth MPM Model.)

As awareness grows and conversations increase concerning God’s current movement in the global marketplace, diverse strains of ministries are emerging into eleven distinct but integrated forms. This proliferation and resulting integration are grounded fundamentally in the underlying biblical and theological understanding of business as an institution created by God in the original order, now tainted by the universally corrupting influence of sin, and vital to our understanding the advancement of God’s Kingdom as we participate in God’s mission in the world.

Varying levels of integration, such as crossing the boundaries between workplace ministries and leadership discipleship, or between business as mission (BAM) and microfinance, will become increasingly evident as disciplines and protocols developed to pursue a particular agenda will be applicable in others.

The aim here is not to delve into the biblical or theological underpinnings of these models, nor is it to investigate the various interconnections between models. The purpose is merely to offer some differentiation and work toward a comprehensive listing of models. This last is the motivation to invite readers, aware of any marketplace ministry initiative, to examine these model categories and suggest other models that may not be represented. Also, readers are encouraged to address any key elements missing from these brief, introductory descriptions. Treat this document as a “first draft” and, please, contribute your comments to flesh it out.

My identification of this entire movement as marketplace ministry (MPM) is motivated by seeing some unifying effort to help make practitioners in one pursuit aware of others such that the lessons learned across the spectrum can be shared and understood by all, whether applicable directly or indirectly. Given the grandeur of God’s mission in the world and the universal scope of marketplace participation by all humankind, this is a very, VERY large conversation but one that can be most helpful if we can bring it to greater clarity by establishing some framework of order for analysis and planning.

I.                 Tentmaking (TM)

Generally, tentmaking is focused on individuals who take work in a particular mission context to facilitate their presence for the purposes of evangelization in their local communities. Their vocation may supply all, part, or even very little to none of their actual support. This model, particularly when used as a guise to enter countries otherwise closed to Christian evangelism, may be perceived as deceptive (which it is to varying degrees) and can contribute to deepening political and religious persecution of the indigenous church where they take up residence. That is not to say that all tentmakers practice deception or are hiding behind a “front” to gain access to their neighbors and cities. But it is a model that especially should be approached with a great deal of prayer and wisdom.

However, in a very real sense, all Christians working in the marketplace are tentmakers if our normal work provides our support for daily living and contributes to our ability to perform ministry, whether inside our professional life or through volunteerism and such outside work hours.

II.              Business as Mission (BAM)

BAM initiatives are businesses started specifically to fulfill multiple purposes simultaneously but specifically as Kingdom-oriented and outreach endeavors. These businesses typically plan for and execute according to a quadruple bottom line: people (fulfilling an economic / market need in the community), planet (creation care), program (relational evangelism and discipleship ministry) and profit (sustainability).

Typically, BAM is understood to function through three basic models, including microeconomic development (MED), small-to-medium enterprises (SME), and overseas private equity (OPE). MED is proliferating rapidly among the poor as small investments or loans (microlending) supply enough working capital to create a small business designed to support just the entrepreneur and / or their family. SME’s require more capital and typically create more jobs within a community. Unlike many MED initiatives, which can fly under the radar of local and national governmental regulations (in the informal market), SME’s tend to be formal businesses which operate under those same regulations and are more fully integrated into their local and national economies and on tax rosters to support local infrastructure and other amenities like public education. OPE’s are the largest of BAM initiatives and can require considerable sums, often more than a million dollars, to build factories, establish sizable workforces, and so on.

SME’s and OPE’s are very useful tools for creating legitimate businesses that contribute to the common good in countries that would otherwise be closed to Christian presence. The evangelization efforts of Christian owners and operators of these businesses is most often conducted through building long term relationships with employees, customers, vendors, public officials, and their at-large communities.

III.            Workplace Discipleship (WPD)

Workplace discipleship ministries cover a broad range of ministry within a particular workplace or company from informal, voluntary prayer ministry to ethics training coordinated through human resource departments, to company-offered counseling support and chaplain availability. These ministries are established, or at least endorsed, by the ownership or management of the company. Prayer ministries can include scheduled prayer groups and meetings, submitting prayer requests to volunteer intercessors, and prayer request posting boards. Prayer ministries carry a certain burden concerning privacy issues that may be of concern to human resource professionals, hence prayer requests should be kept confidential.

Other forms of workplace discipleship include conducting (or allowing) Bible studies to take place in the workplace (before or after hours, or at lunch time), providing ethics training (conducted either by internal personal, such as a Human Resources program or by bringing in outside expertise), providing counseling for any number of afflictions or life troubles (including treating addictions or to minister to those grieving the loss of a loved one or co-worker), and even providing chaplaincy services.

IV.             Executive / Business Leader Discipleship

Business leadership ministries focus on this defined group specifically to address problems unique to leadership positions in the marketplace to advance the spiritual formation of business leaders and executives, hold group members accountable to the tenets of their Christian faith, and to offer collaborative business strategizing and problem solving opportunities in a confidential environment. These groups address a broad range of biblical and theological concerns, like spiritual formation, and offering peer-counsel for finding the wisdom to inform ethics, decision-making, and strategic planning.

V.               Financial Stewardship Training

While John Wesley famously said we should “Make all you can [ethically], save all you can [frugally], and give all you can [charitably],” these ministries help both households and the very wealthy focus on managing their income and fortunes in keeping with biblical principles. All of these programs embrace core biblical financial concepts like tithing, frugality, and generosity. Household management ministries help individuals and couples understand God’s view of their income and to develop long-term strategies for providing for both current and future needs of families, whether how to deal with mortgage and car payments, build savings, or plan for college and retirement costs. Wealth management programs help participants understand the obligations before God of the enormous blessings he has poured into their lives and how best to leverage their wealth, and especially their giving, to have the greatest impact for advancing God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

VI.             Workforce Development (WFD)

These ministries fulfill two primary purposes: equipping workers, especially those without fundamental job skills and education, and connecting those in employment transition with hiring organizations. Some ministries in this classification also extend classroom training to small business operators and owners in developing economies to help them grasp the core disciplines of business creation and development – strategic planning, financial control, marketing, employee, customer, and vendor relations, and so on. There are a rising number of workforce development ministries that offer participants preparation for general equivalency diploma (GED) testing. Some also offer basic courses in computer programs in wide use and in high demand in the business world, such as Microsoft Word and Excel. Offerings may also include workplace etiquette, basic customer service attitude and skills training, and even address issues of personal hygiene.

Several workforce networking programs have come into being or grown dramatically in the United States and other regions affected by the most recent global economic crisis. Displaced workers are encouraged to attend networking events and take part in job transition seminars where they can, in the first case, connect with others in their particular industries or specialties, and, in the second, develop job search strategies, brush up on creating the most powerful resume’ or LinkedIn profile, or attend job fairs with many hiring companies present. Often both these type of ministries – job preparation training and job transition – are facilitated by, and even take place, in local churches.

VII.          Enterprise Coaching and Mentoring (ECM)

These ministry efforts match the skills and experience of business practitioners one-to-one with those in poor economies or redeveloping areas (in developed economies, areas such as inner city neighborhoods or among the rural poor) attempting to develop small businesses but lacking access to formal business education. Historically, fulfilling this ministry has been proving one of the most difficult to accomplish for two reasons. First, a lack of awareness among Christian business leaders of the needs and opportunities, even within their own contexts, has left many with great ministry potential idle. Second, problems of skills mismatching (corporate types attempting to coach entrepreneurial endeavors outside their particular areas of expertise or with thinking through how to adapt their knowledge to a very different context and application) and paternalism (which could to often be classified as over-lording when business leaders attempt to “take over” versus coming alongside those they are intending to minister to) lead to failures that may prove very difficult to overcome, especially on the “recipient” end of these transactions.

ECM can take many forms including business planning assistance (helping inexperienced entrepreneurs formulate and think through the numerous facets of business creation and operation), personal and professional development (whether by individual coaching or via classroom-based programs to equip inexperienced entrepreneurs with essential skill sets and decision-making techniques), the formation of advisory boards and mentoring relationships (to observe and come alongside entrepreneurs to forewarn of possible pitfalls or pending dangers and working through solutions strategies to avoid them), and service offerings of affordable consultancies (providing the guidance and information entrepreneurs may not otherwise get but at fees considerably below local market rates).

VIII.        Marketplace Ministries Advocacy and Mobilization (A&M)

These efforts are designed to expand the awareness and engagement of Christian marketplace practitioners at-large. These ministries work extensively on business outreach models, information gathering and sharing, theological and biblical exegesis, and thought leadership. Some of this work is being doing through or in conjunction with educational institutions (Bible colleges and seminaries) through standard coursework or supplemental institutes. Some of this work is being done through denominational and missions organizations, and a few interdenominational permanent and virtual think tanks which stage conferences and seminars, develop teaching materials, and publish in print and on line, including webinars. Some efforts are aimed directly at activating “the pew” while others concentrate more on the influence of the Christian faith by teaching in areas of economic and political philosophy that Christians can be better equipped as informed and active voters, consumers, political activists, and so on..

IX.             Microfinance Initiatives (MFI)

Most of these programs work among the very poor globally but domestic (U.S.) programs are expanding to provide access to credit for very small enterprises. The vast majority of loans range from $500.00 to $5,000.00 to entrepreneurs to purchase basic equipment and starting inventories. Two primary models are currently spreading around the world: community-based credit unions (including both credit extension and savings accounts) and lending institutions providing capital funds. Both can serve to help underwrite the launch of very small (micro-) businesses. The latter have found a great deal of success by working through peer-lending groups (typically featuring predominant women membership) to encourage accountability and provide safety nets in the case of a business failure or illness. Availability of additional loans to group members hinge on all outstanding loans being current on repayment schedules. Microfinance can be very labor intensive and do charge market interest rates but have proliferated since their introduction more than thirty years ago.

X.               Business for Mission (BFM)

These ministries are designed to provide a variety of capital resources to small business development (either start-up or early round financing) in poor economies. The biggest impact of these efforts is the injection of capital funds into poor contexts, whether rural villages or poor urban neighborhoods. These projects and initiatives are applicable in both developing global economies as well as among the rural and urban poor in developed economies. The potential of these projects will be enormously impacted by being conjoined to coaching / mentoring relationships to help ensure the success of new businesses. In any case, some may be businesses created strictly as revenue streams (for sustainable funding for not-for-profit efforts) while others may be formed as venture lending funds or social venture investment funds, both of which could be classified as “smart aid,” that is, increasing capacity in poor contexts by strengthening capital availability and movement within them.

XI.             Christian Community Development Corporations (CDC)

These organizations have traditionally been grant-based to fund their initiatives focused on the quality of formal primary and secondary education in inner cities, the dispersal of social services, family counseling, child and healthcare education and so on. Given their holistic focus, many are now beginning to address the need for jobs and small business development in their neighborhoods, including subsidiary businesses to provide ongoing revenue streams for the agencies themselves.

CDC’s feature three significant distinctive. First, they tend to focus on very targeted geographies, such as a particular cohesive urban neighborhood, or as may be becoming the case, on larger geographic regions involving the rural poor, such as distinct regions of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Second, CDC’s have historically been predominantly operational in Western developed economies but their design and influence is expanding globally and their principles and practices put in place an increasing variety of locations and contexts. But the dramatic rise – predominantly through the growth and influence of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) – has been in the United States and aimed at economic redevelopment of inner city neighborhoods. Finally, CDC’s take a holistic approach, as hinted in the paragraph above, concerned with all aspects of the target area including but not limited to issues of governance, taxation, education, infrastructure, social services, and economic development.

David Doty

Eden’s Bridge, Inc.

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Filed under Faith in the Marketplace