Business as Mission (BAM) is becoming a popular strategy in countries around the world today. BAM is a holistic ministry model that integrates business and mission into the day-to-day operations of a company. The best opportunities for ministry in business are: when new employees are hired, through skill-training for existing employees, when employees are disciplined and/or fired for not following company policy, and when employees are rewarded for outstanding performance. Business and mission are not separate activities but are seamlessly integrated together as a way of intentionally making the character of God known through business. The purpose of BAM is first to bring glory to God and then to bless people along the way.
BAM is one of the best strategies to pioneer new ministry where the church does not exist and where local economies are just beginning to emerge.
One of the best opportunities for BAM is among unreached peoples, who live in countries and cities where they have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel and do not have a local church to attend. BAM is one of the best strategies to pioneer new ministry where the church does not exist and where local economies are just beginning to emerge. The marketplace is a thriving community where people are meeting and building relationships every day. BAM is one of the best mission strategies among the unreached because of the many opportunities it provides to build relationships in the marketplace. It opens doors for creating relationships with potential employees through skill-training and job creation, with customers through the services you provide, and with other businesses and vendors in the community through partnerships.
In order for BAM to have a positive impact among the unreached, all of its products and services must be done with excellence.
I have been a part of multiple BAM startups in India and Thailand over the last fifteen years where unreached people from Hindu and Buddhists backgrounds have made decisions to follow Jesus by faith. In each of the BAM companies (training institute, real estate company, and a cleaning company), men and women had multiple opportunities to hear the gospel and see the gospel lived out by other Christians and were given an invitation to put their faith in Jesus. In each country, city, and religious worldview the people became open to the gospel through real, ongoing relationships with co-workers and/or other students participating in skill-training. In each business we have started, we not only created jobs and witnessed the unreached making decisions of faith, but we also became a business brand the local market could trust. In order for BAM to have a positive impact among the unreached, all of its products and services must be done with excellence. BAM companies that are not led with excellence will have a negative impact on the unreached and will not be sustainable.
BAM is a bridge that makes sense to an unreached and unbelieving world, a bridge creating endless opportunities to model Jesus, share the gospel, and practice discipleship.
Over the last decade, we have had the opportunity to lead over 100 previously unreached people to put their faith in Jesus. The reason we have a relationship with each of these people is that we have ability to create jobs through business. The reason they had the opportunity to hear the gospel is that we have a relationship with them. The reason that some of the hundreds we have trained and created new jobs for decide to put their faith in Jesus is that they observed the truth of the gospel lived out through other people in the day-to-day operations of our business. The reason our business is currently sustainable and growing is that we have built a brand of excellence the market needs and trusts.
It is not BAM that saves or transforms the lives of unreached people. God alone does that. BAM is simply a bridge that makes sense to an unreached and unbelieving world, a bridge creating endless opportunities to model Jesus, share the gospel, and practice discipleship. My friend and Thai mentor told me when we first arrived in Thailand, “Thai people have bad ears, but good eyes,” meaning that Thai people tend to struggle to believe what they hear from others but are always watching and believing what they can see modeled over time with their eyes. While some mission strategies struggle to build relationships with the unreached, BAM fundamentally and intentionally creates face-to-face time with its employees, customers, and vendors, which provides many opportunities for sharing the gospel, teaching biblical truth, modeling a relationship with God, and engaging in discipleship. BAM is not a strategy to replace the role of the local church, but it can be a powerful way to partner with the local church to make disciples of all nations.
Over the last twenty-five years, Hatley has worked in manufacturing with a global Fortune 100 company, the United States government, and has managed multiple non-profit organizations. He is the founder of Growing Entrepreneurs International (2010) and GEI Thailand Foundation (2013) and co-founder of Expat Homes Ltd, Bliss Clean and Care Co. Ltd in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Over the last decade, he has coached and consulted with 60+ Thai and international entrepreneurs in SE Asia launching new startups. He has a passion for mentoring and has personally invested in the lives of hundreds of college students and young professionals.