Marketplace Ministries – Pakistan and India

I have been invited to conduct three one-day seminars on marketplace ministry and business-as-mission (BAM), two in Pakistan and one in India (since I will already be on that side of the world). These conferences will be designed for pastors and other church leaders, business leaders and entrepreneurs. The end goal is to help pastors start developing marketplace Christians into networks then create a groundswell of evangelistic intention to reach out to their cities through businesses.

I will be preaching and teaching at Hujji Ministries International in Pakistan, then Life Light Ministries in India. Both cities are only about 2% Christian. The problems are many including issues with infrastructure, poor public education, and rampant corruption. The Christians in the marketplace have the opportunity to be major contributors to changing their cities practically AND spiritually. I want to be an encourager that business is their Kingdom calling.

This tour, however, needs your support. To facilitate travel, accommodations, food, venue rentals, and other logistical costs, I need to raise about $7,000 very quickly. Would you consider helping? I need just 70 people who will step up with a $100 gift to be able to go and bless those who are asking for help. Eden’s Bridge, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) so all gifts are 100% tax deductible in the U.S.

Please contact me directly at davedoty@edensbridge.org if you have any questions. Shalom, Dave Doty

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BAM Think Tank Report 12: How Are We Doing?

 How Are We Doing? – Measuring the Impact and Performance of BAM Businesses

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excerpts from the Executive Summary (© BAM Think Tank 2013)

Business as mission is hard.

They need a compass to guide them—something to remind them of their direction and tell them if they are on track. Well designed and implemented metrics can help.

Without some consistently applied metrics it is very hard to know if the business is on track to achieve what it set out to do. That is dangerous for any business. However, since BAM businesses set out to bring glory to God and to expand the Kingdom of Christ, the consequences of being off track have eternal significance!

The Measuring Impact Issue Group … grappled with questions of how and what to measure in a BAM business, as well as why to measure.

Benchmarking and the development of best practice indicators are valuable for the entire BAM community.

There are many pitfalls in metrics and this report attempts to highlight these.

Collecting data is one thing, analyzing and evaluating it is quite another. We need in our evaluations to leave room for the Holy Spirit to work and to guide.

Possibly the most important aspect of metrics is their application—what do you do with the measure after you have prepared it?

Good metrics are a compass that enables good leaders to stay on track.

 

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BAM Think Tank Report #11: Business as Mission In and From China

BAM Think Tank China Regional Group Report

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Executive Summary (© BAM Think Tank 2013)

China’s economic growth of eight to ten percent annually for the last twenty years, creates an ideal commercial environment for business as mission (BAM) within China. There are many opportunities for doing business and large amounts of foreign investment available.

At the same time, as one BAM practitioner in China has noted, “China has one of the largest unreached populations in the world, business is a significant channel for Christians to effectively impact countless people and help set them free from sin.” Business brings relationships and connections that are a natural context for showing love and sharing the message of the gospel. Business people have many opportunities to share the gospel and establish close relationships and friendships with people from different walks of life including owners of large businesses and government officials. These opportunities are available to them because of their business involvement.

The business as mission companies profiled in this report tell the stories of many decisions for Christ, the discipleship of new believers, Bible study groups formed, church leaders trained and local churches added to or planted. These businesses in China have also had an influence through job creation, improved working conditions and benefits, improved standards of living, training up the workforce, imparting biblical values for work and family and challenging corruption, among other things.

At the same time, as the Church in China grows exponentially, the desire to do mission from China is also growing. As a Chinese contributor observes, “First, we must be involved in the Great Commission; second, we must grow into maturity through giving; third, the Chinese Christians will bring a new dynamic into world missions, both to the international Christian community and the unreached people groups.”

With a conservative estimate of 70 million Christians in China, the potential impact of their mission involvement can be far-reaching as they grow stronger and become better equipped. However, the Chinese mission movement is still growing into maturity and experience of business as mission is very new. The Chinese church both inside mainland China and overseas has a long way to go to fully understand and embrace the strategy of business as mission. They must learn from their own difficult experiences and also connect with the wider BAM movement in order to be more effective for the future.

In this report the opportunities and challenges of doing business as mission both in and from China are shared. These observations from surveys, case studies and a SWOT analysis confirm great potential for BAM in and from China. It is a desirable approach to mission and Kingdom transformation as both the missional and commercial aspects show continued strength and abundant opportunity. Fruitful strategies, recommendations and action plans, plus available resources and networks are also shared in the hope that they will contribute to a multiplication of effective BAM practices in and from China.

This report is written for those interested in knowing about BAM in or from China, Chinese BAM practitioners, BAM practitioners in China, and organizations or churches facilitating BAM in or from China.

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Raphah – Be Still

“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10a

Be still here is the Hebrew term raphah. It has several meanings which we will explore in three installments. I have tried to group twelve different nuances of raphah into subsets of four related meanings.

Raphah: Respite, Relax, Wait, Be Still

The central thrust of the verse above is toward the idea of resting. While it may pertain to both physical and mental activity, perhaps of greater importance is the release of anguish. We often think that a person who is grieving the loss of a loved one should “get some rest,” by which we mean, “go to sleep.” We know that deep rest rejuvenates the body. How often we set aside a problem until the morning and while the problem has not disappeared or diminished, when we are fresh and re-energized, we are more able to deal with it without the same levels of frustration or fear.

We are told of times when Jesus, feeling pressed by the crowds and the depth of their needs, slipped away, into the desert, across the water, or into a garden, to pray. He took a break to be rejuvenated by the Holy Spirit, and strengthened by an angel of God (Luke 22:43).

Western culture, and increasingly global culture, seems always to be speeding up but consistently we hear the sentiment of Psalm 46:10 reflected in Scripture but perhaps most importantly in Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.”

When I reflect on my surrounding culture here in North Atlanta, which is one of the busiest commercial centers in the U.S., I am reminded of Thomas Gray’s description, in Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, of the busy-ness of modern society, even in 1751, as the madding crowd’s ignoble strife. The frenzy of life easily makes us anxious, harried, and tired but Jesus says “Come away, rest.” It is as if He in himself is a place of escape from the insanity of the striving world, even in its midst.

When we can “get away from it all,” whether to a sunny summer hillside, or an overstuffed chair in a quiet corner, or a favorite secluded chapel, it is there that we can be still, and in our stillness wait to hear the voice of God, not in the rending of the earth, the roaring wind, or raging fire, but coming in the quiet moment, as it did for Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-12).

We often recognize the intense tiredness that comes after a long day of solving work problems or interacting with others in troubled relationships. Our bodies respond to the weariness of our minds. Getting away to clear our heads, especially in prayer or reflecting on ministering passages of the Bible, or perhaps to listen to favorite worship songs, re-sets our agendas, restores weakening faith, encourages the heart and gives us the opportunity to begin again, re-focused on Christ and the importance of pressing “on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 3:14.

In stillness, forcing ourselves to set aside all the intrusions and worries that life throws our way, we can commune with God, knowing that “those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength” – Isaiah 40:31.

Raphah – Abandon, Cease, Let Go, Fall Limp

The second grouping of meanings we impute to raphah leans toward reaching an end, especially of our own strength to accomplish something, or moving beyond performance expectations. Perhaps it is best summed up when Jesus says, “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it” – Matthew 16:25.

When Adam and Eve fell from grace it was essentially due to the sin of self-determination. But self-determination, which is a product of pride, has a deeper cause. They chose to disobey God because they questioned whether what God had told them about eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was true. In essence, they removed the authority from God to decide what was best for them, taking upon themselves the mantel of moral authority. But that action was merely symptomatic of their loss of faith in the integrity of God. They distrusted Him. They stopped believing God.

Ever since the Fall and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, humankind, in one way or another, has striven to “re-gain” the lost intimacy with God, or pursued a variety of panaceas to replace His presence, whether through wealth, power, alcohol, drugs, sex, or fame. All those, without a relationship with God, end in the desperation of trying to fill the void left by His absence from our lives. Often those pursuits will bring us to a crash, recognizing enough is never enough, whether it is in the diminishing psychological returns of increasing wealth or the dissatisfaction and emptiness wrought from deeper and deeper addictive behaviors.

Unfortunately, we sometimes also strive after religion, which is nothing more than trying to achieve righteousness by our own actions, as one of those panaceas. We get in our heads that if we can be good enough, to discipline ourselves to perform the right way every day, we will be good enough to go to heaven, good enough to earn God’s love that saves us.

Even if we have turned from overtly sinful behaviors, we often put on religion as a new addiction and find we are drawn toward legalism, following the checklist of God’s commands to justify ourselves. God proved by giving Israel the Ten Commandments that they were a fallen people. We seldom think about the fact that He gave Adam only one law . . . and Adam broke it!

Because we cannot atone for our own sin, that is, to make right the wrongs we have committed against God, our striving after holiness outside of the finished work of Christ on the Cross will fall short. But until we come to the realization that we cannot save ourselves, we strive on and become increasingly anxious wondering if we are yet good enough to please God.

In a word, raphah in Psalm 46:10 speaks to abandoning any notion of our own righteousness or our ability to attain in. Be still tells us to release our agendas or false notions of our own holiness. Here raphah also encourages us to release the anxiety that comes from falling short of the glory of God . . . and we all fall short (Romans 3:23). It is not until we fall limp in our inability, in our weakness, to become holy, that God can manifest and we begin to understand how the power of Christ is “perfected in our weakness” – 2 Corinthians 12:9.

You see, it is not until we come to our own end, recognizing our utter lack of righteousness and ability to save ourselves, that we come to the recognition of our need of a Savior, one other than us who is able to atone for sin, one already holy and willing to sacrifice self completely, in the very character of God, for the sake of the one fallen. Only Christ can take that position in our lives and only as we collapse under the crush of our indebtedness to God and abandon our self-justifying ego. In that moment of our coming to terms with our brokenness, His strength comes into the middle of our relationship to God and is made perfect for our restoration into the Kingdom of God.

Raphah – Become Discouraged, Lose Courage, Fail, Become Helpless

By now, I hope that you are beginning to see the richness of the word raphah, and why I consider the first phrase of Psalm 46:10 as pivotal in our relationship to God. But the meaning is deeper still as we take this last look.

It may seem odd that we can “know that God is God” when we are discouraged, or back away from following Christ, seeing only the pressing and demoralizing circumstances of life or the depth of our weaknesses when we fail, stumbling in sin. Can we “know that God is God” when we become helpless?

In Western thought, we are driven by a sense of self-worth based in our ability to perform. Individualism and our standards of success compel us toward independently striving for success, pulling ourselves up “by the bootstraps,” so to speak, to be recognized by our peers and families as worthy of acclaim and respect. Our economic system is geared toward working harder and smarter to carve out our place in the world. As the saying goes, “Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone” (from Solitude by Ella Wheeler Cox).

When we fail or find ourselves discouraged, we also often find ourselves alone. It is easy to think that we are the only one suffering in such ways, that others in the church are surely more holy than we, or the folk down the street do not have the same depth of financial, career, or marriage struggles we face every day. Isolation deepens the darkness of our despair.

But we are not alone. Foremost, God is with us. When Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah, he said that the One would be called Immanuel, meaning God with us (Isaiah 7:14). A major component of the incarnational (in the flesh) presence of God in Jesus Christ was God condescending to share human experience with us. He faced the trials, tribulations, and temptations we all face. Life is hard and God knows it . . . firsthand.

So, when we are discouraged, or failing God, or recognize our helplessness to be holy, how is it we can “know that God is God?” Though Christ ascended back to heaven after the Resurrection, He did not leave us without resources, especially resources for the moments of our deepest spiritual needs. First and foremost is the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit within us. It is by the presence of the Holy Spirit that God helps and teaches us (John 14:26). The literal translation of helper (parakletos) is comforter. When we think of the gentleness of God, it is in the moments that the Holy Spirit invites us to look to God for our salvation and help rather than to self in the midst of our daily madness that we can perceive the comforting voice of God’s presence, calling to us, inviting our return, so “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” – Hebrews 4:16.

God has also given us the Bible. There have been many verses that have been soothing to me over the years of my walk with God. One of my favorites in the times when I am mostly acutely aware of my sinfulness is 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When I read this verse, I am encouraged to be honest with God and myself about my weakness and my stumbling. There are a lot of promises in the Bible that encourage, such as Philippians 1:6: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” It reminds me to not try taking on God’s transformational work in my life and encourages me to reflect on times past when God has demonstrated His faithfulness in my life, and to think about His ability to save me when and where I am unable.

Finally, there is the church which is instructed to “come alongside each other daily for encouragement” (Hebrews 3:13). There have been countless times that I have feared the vulnerability of revealing my true self to others for fear of being rejected. We are created to live in community and fear being put out of fellowship with others. But inevitably, if I confide in those I trust in Christ, I find encouragement, sometimes exhortation, prayer, restoration, and forgiveness, all by the power of God’s grace, present in His church.

When we are hard pressed by the world or our own weakness, we should be still before God and know Him as our loving, Heavenly Father.

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BAM Think Tank Report #6: Business as Mission and Church Planting

Fruitful Practices for Establishing Faith Communities

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Executive Summary (© BAM Think Tank 2013)

Many within the business as mission (BAM) movement, especially those from church planting mission agencies, are hopeful that the BAM concept can become a key strategy in starting new churches and transforming communities. This report will confirm that indeed the potential exists for these goals to be attained. However, while there is a good rationale for integrating business and church planting, to date there has been a relative lack of working examples and resources on best practices.

The objective of the Business as Mission and Church Planting Issue Group has been to research current practices and trends in the BAM movement and to identify fruitful practices that lead to the formation of new churches. We conducted interviews with BAM practitioners to identify foundational principles, key challenges and fruitful practices for BAM and church planting. Real examples from BAM companies are shared to illustrate some of the lessons learned by current practitioners.

Fruitful practices for integrating church planting and business include:

• Make sure that the business provides regular contact with the focus people. 

• Invest substantial time in learning language and culture before attempting to start a

business.

• Make business sustainability and profitability an essential goal.

• Give thoughtful consideration to staff selection.

• Clarify and communicate your strategic mission.

• Build local partnerships.

• Work in a team.

• Incorporate prayer right from the start.

• Incorporate biblical values and teaching.

• Work with a coach or mentor(s).

• Witness by doing business ethically and with care.

• Provide excellent products and services.

• Intentionally invest in relationships.

• Be socially responsible in the wider community.

Most BAM practitioners were able to share illustrations of transformational business practices, discipling conversations, significant relationships and anywhere from one to a handful of new Christ-followers in their company or work community. In some cases the double bottom lines of profitable business and planting churches has been achieved.

Therefore, the results of our research indicate that God has already used business to launch new churches. However church planting alongside operating a viable for-profit business presents significant challenges. Furthermore, we discovered only a handful of examples that have helped initiate a new church that can reproduce itself on its own.

Areas for further consideration and research are suggested, as well as practical recommendations for making greater advances in this area of business as mission. Our hope is that in the future there will be many more companies that do business well and at the same time help establish communities of faith that will be a reflection of God’s glory.

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BAM Think Tank Report #10: Business as Mission in Haiti

Case Studies and Insights from Business as Ministry at the Base of the Pyramid

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Executive Summary (© BAM Think Tank 2013)

Christians in Haiti have been in business for centuries, yet, within the last decade, have come to see that there is no dichotomy between their vocational calling to business and their Christian faith. According to data and interviews collected from many entrepreneurs in the Partners Worldwide network and other networks, entrepreneurs throughout Haiti now sense an affirmation to allow their Christian faith to guide every part of their lives, including their businesses.

The main difference is in the daily ways business people live out their faith. Business as mission (BAM) practices have tremendous influence in a culture where voodoo, mystics and irrational thinking prevail and negatively affect the workforce. Businesspeople and other stakeholders in a business sector are able to join force to utilize BAM practices that reflect the life of Jesus Christ and can influence societal and individual transformation through the direction and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Ralph Edmond, Evelien de Gier and Daniel-Gérard Rouzier are among these inspiring businesspeople living out their faith in Haiti. Although they have practiced Christianity throughout their lives, they have very rarely been affirmed—and oftentimes even been criticized—when they tried to see the direct connection between their Christian faith and their sphere of influence: their business and community. This is all undergoing transformation today, especially as they are now affirmed by other Christian believers to follow their calling from God to be in business.

Through the affirmation of business as ministry in Haiti, the BAM movement is bridging the gap between the church and business, by bringing Christian entrepreneurs and business professionals to a new affirmation and deep understanding of their sphere of influence they have always had, yet never recognized before. As a result, the BAM movement is moving throughout the country and region. This affirmation encourages and equips businesspeople to bridge the gap between business and the global church, and to humbly, faithfully, and practically follow their calling as Christians while serving God with the talents of their business skills. To God be the glory.

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The Divine “E” of Christian Marketplace Ministry

I previously wrote about three vocational “E’s” that marketplace Christians can leverage for the sake of advancing God’s mission in the world: education, experience, and expertise (From Milk to Meat: Applying the Three E’s of Marketplace Christians). There are other e-words that we might apply, like energy or effort, to consider the work that marketplace Christians intentionally direct to missional activities and ends. But the Divine E, is the impetus of God as partner in the work of the Holy Spirit working through us: in Hebrew, the `ezer.

We first come across `ezer in the phrase `ezer neged in Genesis 2:18 when Eve is conceived as a “suitable helper” to overcome the inadequacies of Adam’s isolation. The “suitable” – neged – implies “one in front of, visible, present with, or corresponding to.” Eve is Adam’s co-worker but of equal and perfectly paired roles. We find the superiority of Adam’s position in the relationship (to rule over her – Genesis 3:16) comes only in God’s response to Adam and Eve’s sin.

The concept of `ezer recurs in the Old Testament, occurring 21 times in all. Of those, five pertain to human assistance – the two occurrences in Genesis 2, where coupled with neged, and once each in Isaiah 30:5, Ezekiel 12:14, and Daniel 11:34. The other sixteen occurrences refer to God as the `ezer, the help or helper. This occurs most famously in Psalm 121:1 ­– “I Will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From whence shall my help come?”

Perhaps most telling about the relationship between the God of the Old Testament, Yahweh, and Jesus Christ, as the man-God of the New Testament is a similar sounding sentiment between Psalm 124:8 – “Our help (`ezer) is in the name of the LORD, Who made heaven and earth,” – and Romans 10:13for ‘Whoever will call upon the name of the LORD will be saved’” (Paul citing Joel 2:32, emphasis mine).

Seeing the connection between these verses, surrounds the concept of `ezer with salvific overtones. The introduction of Eve, as the `ezer neged, was for the communal working out of Adam’s salvation (Philippians 2:12), to overcome the shortfalls of his isolation. She was his co-worker in the temporal toward his material prosperity. She was his collaborator to deepen his cognitive reach. And she was his partner in the practice of holiness, that is, obedience to God. She was able to help him to some degree, we can be sure, on the first two counts. But on the third, she, as do we all, fell short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Adam put his trust in her words and leading, turning his back on God’s command, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But when we turn back to God as divine `ezer, we can be assured of wise counsel and positive intervention in our endeavors. The cooperative and collaborative nature of the community of the Triune God is not only the example we follow but puts forth the impetus to move our hearts, compelling us by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit within us each to act according to holiness. It is this helping power, the `ezer of God’s Spirit and presence, that creates in us right thought and, moving outwardly, right action to undertake ministry in every arena of life. Just as God moves us to love and serve our families, to take on charitable causes, to glorify him as readily as we breathe, it is by God’s help that we are moved to embrace our work as the stamp of God’s image (imago Dei) of who and what we are when we carry forth his nature, character, and will into the marketplace.

It is by the `ezer of God that our education, experience, expertise, energy, and efforts (and one might even include our entrepreneurial leanings!) are woven together (Romans 8:28). These, working well together, contribute to the productive wellness of human life, giving households incomes but also supplying the funds to meet every need, whether through charitable gifts, regular purchasing, or the application of taxes to common goods like parks, schools, police and military protection, and transportation corridors.

God’s Spirit has opened our eyes to a great opportunity: to glorify his name by our works (Matthew 5:16). When we pursue economic development and financial security for the poor through the wise use of all those other “e’s,” but most importantly with God’s help – his power and leading – it is truly Good News, a strong proclamation of God’s goodness and grace, divine kindness extended to all humankind. Marketplace ministries, extolling and demonstrating the righteousness of God, and offering our labors sacrificially for the sake of others, have the indwelling power of God infusing our witness. Marketplace Christians, for too long relegated to pew sitting and serving only as checkbooks to Christian churches and missionaries, have the opportunity to carry the Gospel to the world in unprecedented ways.

The lever is the simplest of all tools. By its use, one can create enormous advantage. God has gifted us with a wide variety of education, experience, and expertise. These are levers for our advantage and the advantage of the world. The `ezer, the help, of God is our fulcrum, the pivot point of our ability and productive existence, and by it, with apologies to Archimedes, we can transform the world.

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