IBEC Ventures -- Consultants for BAM/Business as Mission
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Job opportunities in BAM

Sunday, December 31, 2017

I am often asked if there are places in the world of Business as Mission (BAM) for internships, job opportunities, for those who are not true entrepreneurs or founders.  The best BAM website out there may be Business As Mission's (www.businessasmission.com) and this recent list of job opportunities will interest many of our readers.

The list includes a wide variety of skills such as fashion design, accounting, IT, web development, management, marketing, agriculture, sales, communications and more.  Check it out:

Business is a gift

Sunday, December 24, 2017

This month of December is a month for giving. We give gifts to each other; we reflect on the gift of Jesus to humanity; and we think about year-end giving to various charities.

Patrice Tsague, CEO of the Nehemiah Project proposed that business is a gift and he stated twenty reasons. If you agree, we suggest giving to help people start and grow a Kingdom business, thus creating jobs in the name of Jesus. IBEC helps do just that.

Here are 20 reasons that business is a gift:

  1. Business brings hope
  2. Business reduces crime
  3. Business reduces poverty
  4. Business reduces the threat of terrorism
  5. Business creates income
  6. Business reduces dependency
  7. Business minimizes the threat of war
  8. Business builds community
  9. Business creates wealth
  10. Business helps families
  11. Business solves problems
  12. Business creates jobs
  13. Business helps communities and churches
  14. Business advances the Gospel and funds the great commission
  15. Business can be passed on from generation to generation
  16. Business helps turn a receiver into a giver
  17. Business turns a consumer into a producer
  18. Business pays taxes
  19. Business brings dignity
  20. Business brings innovation
If you would like to support IBEC in cultivating Kingdom-building businesses, you can find more information on the IBEC website. God's blessing in 2018.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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How the Christ of Christmas stimulated Kingdom business

Sunday, December 17, 2017
How the Christ of Christmas stimulated Kingdom business

Christians look at the annual celebration of Christmas with fond memories of the incarnation of Jesus, who as the son of God came as the Savior of the world.  Such Good News is stated in and lived out throughout the New Testament. While the simple meaning of this precious time in history has been diluted with the likes of Santa Claus, reindeer, snowmen, colored lights, fluffy gifts, elves and other trivia, I recently turned my thinking toward the connection of the “Christ- child” with our calling to business.

It seems to me that the incarnation of Jesus in this world actually contributed to Kingdom business as we pursue it today.  Here’s how:

Jesus’ Perspective on Work, Money and Wealth

Kingdom business in North America as well as overseas (BAM) has profit and sustainability as a fundamental bottom line.  Jesus not only acknowledged, but he validated, profitable business. He worked in the ‘secular’ family building business for most of his life (Matt 13:55). Approximately 50% of Jesus’ parables were in a business setting, such as the cost accounting example of building a tower (Luke 14:28). Also, Jesus spoke clearly about worker’s wages in Luke 10:7. 

Perhaps equally important, Jesus in multiple places validated the Old Testament scriptures (Matt 5:17, Luke 24:27, 44). Those scriptures begin with Jesus and God the Father as the worker deity, with Moses speaking of the value of wealth creation (Deut 8:18), and the calling of men of wealth to fulfill the purposes of God (Abraham, Job, Solomon and others). The Old Testament is full of verses guiding business leaders (Gen. 2:15; Eccl. 9:9-10, Prov 12:11).

Many other stories and actions of Jesus support profitable and sustainable business as ordained of God and the Christ of Christmas. We start and grow businesses because Jesus ordained it and gifted people to do so.

The Values of Jesus

While it is true that Jesus provides the validation for the purpose and perspective of a Kingdom business, the values of Jesus relative to operational issues in business may be equally important. Those values are too numerous to mention here but Ken Eldred in God is at Work 1 does an admirable job of demonstrating how Biblical values are at the root of successful capitalism. Under the rubric of personal character values are – integrity, honesty/truthfulness, loyalty, faithfulness, trust, commitment/diligence, order and cleanliness and hope.  

Interpersonal relationship values of Jesus include humility, service, respect/dignity, justice/fairness, grace, compassion, forgiveness, consideration, trust, accountability and interdependence. He even lists performance values such as service, excellence, value and quality; all held high by Jesus as standards for a Kingdom business.  Kingdom businesses create jobs and the purpose of employer-employee relationships is to bring glory to God but living out the values that Jesus taught.

The Great Commandments of Jesus to love Him and our neighbor become one of the central components of the BAM bottom-line. When we create jobs, we are loving our neighbor. When we live out the values of Jesus, we are loving our neighbor and when we serve like Jesus served, we are loving our neighbor.

Jesus and Making Him Known

While it is clear that living rightly in the “here and now” is central to Jesus’ teaching, he also cared as much or more about eternal values. He desired that believers work toward helping others to become followers of Jesus. Some call that the Great Commission – the making of disciples of all nations. Ken Eldred calls it developing spiritual capital; for sure it is one of the bottom lines of Business as Mission.

The Christ of Christmas stated, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36). Again, he stated in the Sermon on the Mount, “…store up for yourselves treasurers in heaven…” (Matt 6:20). It is incumbent upon every follower of Jesus to do his or her part in making him known to an unreached world.  And this is fundamentally one of the bottom lines of a Kingdom business.

Let’s remember this month of Christmas that Jesus is the origin of work, the setter of workplace values and He wants us to make him known here and worldwide using business as the best way to do so.

1 Eldred, Ken.  God is at Work:  Transforming People and Nations through Business.  Regal Books, Ventura, CA, 2005.

Beware of unintended consequences in missional business

Sunday, December 10, 2017
Beware of unintended consequences in missional business

In September 2017, Seattle’s Amazon corporation announced its intent to open a second headquarters projected to be even larger than the one in Seattle. This set off a scramble of fifty cities trying to lure the tech giant to their ‘neck of the woods”.

But it made me wonder if these cities have considered the “Seattle experience”. Once considered a one-industry town (first gold and then Boeing and then Microsoft, before other well-known companies like Starbucks, Nordstrom, Costco made Seattle home), Seattle promoted the intentional decision of Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos to build in the inner city. The result has made Seattle the fastest growing big city in the country. Amazon today at its south Lake Union core has bestowed 40,000 jobs on the city located in 33 buildings with 8.1 million square feet. Amazon owns 19% of the high-end office space in the city and has 4,000 puppy dogs registered for its headquarters buildings.

Such dominance to be sure, has its benefits. Unemployment in King County is 3.7%, well below the national average, and smaller companies have showed up in this Silicon Valley of the north. Thirty-one Fortune 500 companies have research or engineering hubs in Seattle today, bring more jobs.

But what of the unintended consequences? Sociologist Robert Merton popularized the law of unintended consequences which suggests that the actions of people always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended. It’s not a complicated idea but difficult to avoid it seems, when trying to keep up with Jeff Bezos and his Amazon juggernaut.

Taxpayers in Seattle now pay hundreds of millions of dollars in ongoing transportation and infrastructure upgrades such as transit and road networks, parks, utilities and housing subsidies. Seattle is one of the most expensive cities in America and rents have increased 65% in the last seven years. The city of Seattle spends $60 million annually to address the needs of the homeless. It is impossible to drive on or under freeway overpasses without seeing hundreds of tents and other homeless indicators. And the traffic conditions in this beautiful city by the sea and the mountains are going from bad to worse.

Not all of these consequences can be blamed on Amazon, but the company certainly is a gigantic factor.

Boston, Charlotte, Kansas City, Tucson, Birmingham, Kansas City and 40 others – are you sure you are ready for this?

But what about anything else? What about any activity? What about Kingdom businesses? Of course, everything else is on a much smaller scale but still the Seattle experience should cause any endeavor to “count the cost”, to do a risk analysis, to consider the unintended consequences?

Some of the unintended consequences that I have seen in Business as Mission (BAM) have been family stress when the business owner is spending 80 hours a week at the business site, or the cost of expansion and its related taxes, increased labor force and rent, or increased attention in the community from rival business interests or political antagonists. Some BAMers are cut out for a small enterprise of 5-10 employees and not capable of scaling into a much larger company and such growth results in stress and potential failure. Growth usually means a new team dynamic, new division of labor and the insertion of new skills such as marketing, financial analysis and consulting services. These are all important and good but owners need to plan for these important components in the growth of the operation.

Unintended consequences can be intended consequences if we anticipate them, plan for them, or design strategies to avoid them. The London “tube” has signs everywhere “Mind the Gap”. Here my appeal is “Mind the Consequences.”

Predictors for BAM company impact

Sunday, December 03, 2017
Predictors for BAM company impact

There is considerable interest these days in measuring the impact of Business as Mission (BAM) companies. Is the theory of BAM something that will contribute to the intended results? How are individual BAM companies doing when compared to the quadruple bottom line? What makes for success?

Researcher and economist, Steve Rundle reported at the BAM Conference in September 2017 on research which addresses these questions in part.1 He started with two hypotheses:

Hypothesis # 1: Those BAM workers who draw a salary entirely from the business will have a greater economic impact than BAM workers who are donor supported.

Hypothesis # 2: BAM workers who are donor supported will be more effective in producing spiritual fruit than their business supported peers.

The study included appropriate numbers of subjects; and controls for location, firm size and business type, etc. Interestingly, the results demonstrated that hypothesis #1 was strongly supported, however hypothesis #2 was not supported at all.

Donor supported or business supported?

One would expect that spiritual impact would be highest for donor supported BAM practitioners; after all these are primarily missionaries who are paid to produce spiritual results. So, why such evidence? What then is correlated with effectiveness, or in other words, what are the predictors of spiritual results for these BAM practitioners? The evidence suggests:
  • Accountability to a board of directors
  • A measurable intentionality for what one is trying to achieve
  • A balanced holistic theology of mission to explain why they are there
  • Being open about one’s faith and identity
  • A perspective of ‘blessing’ the people, rather than ‘converting’
Professor Rundle points out the negative correlations; meaning factors which did not produce the intended results. They were: narrow missional orientation, secretive identity, conversion focus, being wholly donor supported.

Blessers or Converters?

He also pointed to a similar study by Mark Russell2 which produced parallel findings. Russell’s categories were called “Blessers” and “Converters”. The “Blessers” typically responded that they were there to be a blessing. Bringing others to follow Jesus was important but only one aspect of a larger purpose and vision.

The “Converters” typically tried to “keep the main thing the main thing” and viewed the business as an avenue for missionaries to proclaim the gospel and produce conversions, rather than a place to integrate faith with the work.

In a similar manner to Rundle, Russell demonstrated that the “Converters” who focused on a converting orientation, were secretive about their missionary identity, and worked independently, reported far fewer incidences of evangelism (converts) than those with a blessing mentality.

Probably similar studies are necessary before concrete propositions can be made, but such evidence as this certainly is food for thought – and ACTION!

1  Steve Rundle -- Maximizing the Impact of BAM.

2  Russell, Mark. The Missional Entrepreneur. New Hope Publishers, 2010, chapter 11.

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IBEC Ventures -- Consultants for BAM/Business as Mission