At Work & Public Square

Igniting the Business for Transformation Movement Could Advance the Great Commission in Great Ways

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Missionaries have been using businesses on the field to support their ministries for generations. These businesses have often been inefficient, struggle financially, and lack the proper expertise to make a significant impact for Christ.

It is time for Christian business men and women to invest their gifts, knowledge, time, and capital in one of the greatest untapped opportunities to spread the gospel around our globe in the 21st century – Business for Transformation (B4T).

What Is Business for Transformation?

Business for Transformation (B4T) has been called by numerous names over the years, such as great commission companies, entrepreneurial missions, marketplace missions, or business as mission (BAM).

Regardless of your preferred name, the fundamental goal is building a sustainable, profitable, and reproducible enterprise with a clear kingdom-focus.

These small to medium sized for-profit businesses are typically established or expanded by mission-minded individuals in developing countries (but should be established in urban cities or low income communities in America as well). A B4T effort provides an effective platform to:

  • Provide employment to low income or unemployed individuals, helping to lift them from poverty.
  • Develop valuable, in-demand business skills for workers who have had limited opportunities.
  • Use profits from the business to build loving and caring relationships, share the gospel of Christ, begin Bible groups, plant churches and transform lives.
  • Make or provide products or services, such as clean water filters, which meet real needs and enrich the lives of individuals.
  • Build a for-profit enterprise which is both ethical and an effective steward of God’s resources.
  • Involve experienced businessmen and women in utilizing their spiritual gifts for kingdom work.

For years business leaders have only been asked to give and/or pray for missions. Today the B4T movement is seeking to mobilize experienced businessmen and women to provide kingdom-focused expertise in areas such as:

  • Financial consulting: Analyzing performance measures and business operations.
  • Strategic planning: Evaluating the vision, purpose and future direction of the company.
  • CEO coaching: Assisting and mentoring company management in best business practices.
  • Board and staff training: Sharing executive, legal, or operational knowledge.
  • Entrepreneur and start-up advising: Helping create and implement business models.

The opportunities to deploy business expertise and capital are unlimited today, especially when you consider that small and medium sized for-profit businesses are the backbone of most economies, creating value, increasing wealth and causing social transformation.

Challenges to Helping Communities Flourish

A B4T not only has the opportunity to transform communities economically, socially, and environmentally, but can shape and transform lives for eternity.

The task before us is great and will not be easy. Several challenges still need to be overcome to see the B4T movement gain momentum and begin to help people and communities flourish.

Here are just a few of the challenges I have seen:

  • The sacred/secular mindset: Many cultures still view business and ministry in dual or separate spheres, when God sees them as one. Thus, they view businesses as greedy and unethical entities.
  • Debt-equity issues: Who and how best to fund B4T companies; access to capital and loans (microlenders?). How much debt should a Christian business hold? What kind of return do stockholders expect? I also suggest a B4T adopt a more comprehensive goal of maximizing “long-term stakeholders” value for their business.
  • The for-profit or for-charity balance: B4T managers tend to permit unprofitable practices to continue because of the social good. Striking the proper balance is crucial. The business must thrive, not just survive, for long-term spiritual, social, and economic transformation.

The B4T movement may be one of the greatest vehicles in the 21st century to spread the gospel, lift people out of poverty, and build stronger and more stables communities around our world.

The challenges will be great, but the outcomes will be even greater. I am praying that many business men and women will be moved by the Lord to better steward and deploy their knowledge, skills, and experience to advance the work of Christ through a B4T for such as time as this.

Here are several websites you can visit to learn more about mobilizing businesses for Christ:

http://business4transformation.blogspot.com/

http://www.om.org/b4t

http://www.eastwest.org/initiatives/business-for-transformation/80/

http://www.valuesandcapitalism.com/

https://hill111.com/

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  • Sid Whiting

    This is a very interesting article, and I enjoy the concept of witnessing thru providing improved livelihoods for people.

    I do have a question about this line, though: ” How much debt should a Christian business hold?”
    One would think that Proverbs 22:7 answers this question, “…the borrower is slave to the lender.” There are many other scriptures regarding debt, and a quick summary is debt is neither necessary nor smart.
    I’ve been a rental property owner and manager since 2005. When I started, I did the ‘normal thing’ real estate investors typically do and borrowed up to my eye balls to purchase rental properties. Around 2008, the economy tanked and I almost lost it all. I truly felt the ‘slavery’ aspect of debt. About the same time, miraculously, I found a mentor who helped show me how dangerous debt is, not only from a practical standpoint, but also from a spiritual standpoint.
    I’m not here to preach or shame anyone who has debt or uses debt, either in business or personal life, but I am here to say that my heart was convicted and convinced that debt is not the answer. It’s not even necessary.
    I have talked to literally hundreds of other business owners who disagree. Most of them swear you can’t start or grow a business without debt. I beg to differ. Since 2011, I’ve been investing and growing with cash only. I started a side business based on cash only and it had quadrupled in size and revenues.
    So my question to fellow Christian business owners is: how do you think Proverbs 22:7 speaks to you and your business?

  • Chris

    Great thoughts here Dr. Salazar. The “Bible on Business” devotional on YouVersion is a great resource for those engaging in B4T: http://bible.com/r/O0

  • Joao Mordomo

    Mike, nice work. Glad to see B4T/BAM being emphasized. Some other outstanding sites are http://www.businessasmission.com and http://www.bamthinktank.org.

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