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Get Trained for Business as Mission in 3 easy steps?!

By Jo Plummer of Business as Mission Resource Team of Youth With A Mission International- 8 years ago or there abouts I was asked by a business person ‘how can we provide a clear path for business people to get involved in business as mission – to recruit them, equip them and send them out…?’ Just yesterday I was asked by a mission pastor ‘what kind of process do you recommend for mission personnel wanting to get established in business as mission?’

The question of how to recruit good candidates and adequately prepare them for the rigors and realities of ‘missional business’ will always be with us.

Perhaps there are as many appropriate paths of preparation as there are people wanting to be prepared. Each of us comes from a unique background and is being led by God through different experiences… However, as true as that is, we can still make some generalisations and offer some good avenues to get people started.

In the process, we can get hung up on debates about who should and shouldn’t do business as mission. The question ‘is it easier to make a business person into a missionary than a missionary into a business person…?’ is intriguing and might generate some heated debate in forums, but stopping there or being satisfied with such generalizations does not take us very far in addressing on-the-ground realities.
Who is available? How can we mobilise more? How can we work in strategic partnerships? These might be more appropriate questions!

As we have developed the Introduction to Business as Mission (iBAM) course over the past 4 years we have sometimes asked ourselves this: If God seems to be leading this or that individual towards missional business – how can we give them the reality check that they need and equip them so that they have the best chance of success?

That is why we have made iBAM training open to people from all backgrounds -potentially a risky strategy! We have found that if we can lay some good foundations and get people dialoguing together, the shared journey of learning can be an even more rewarding experience. Sometimes the old stereotypes apply – the person from a business background who needs a reality check about the cross-cultural issues involved… or the person from a mission agency needing to know which way up to hold a profit and loss statement…. But often they don’t.
We have found it is important treat people as individuals and we leave room in the iBAM Course for ‘tailor made’ input, including one-to-one coaching. We also seek to encourage participants on their personal spiritual journey. As much as business as mission depends sound business know-how, a plan to be profitable and a thorough cultural understanding, it is very much about the spiritual realities of life. We aim to create an environment in which God can bring the revelation that the person really needs at the time… We focus on principles (business and biblical), but also on application and we take time to look inside real-life examples. Through this multi-faceted process, it is always amazing to see just how much the key points of learning and revelation are unique for each individual participant.

Over the years we’ve seen examples of business as mission grow up from opposite ends of the spectrum, with mixed results. On one hand, highly entrepreneurial business people have just gone out and started something – probably most would never have asked themselves what kind of training course they needed first! On the other hand there have been those from a mission agency background who have also dived in for better or worse…. they may or may not have any business experience, but in many cases they are still visionaries and risk takers. They are often strongely motivated because they are already ‘out there’ and they vividly see the needs and circumstances of the communities they are ministering in.

But as God is stirring up his church worldwide and as there is more and more communication about business as mission, there is more and more growth in the middle parts of the spectrum….
…The next generation of young people, perhaps with a business education or some limited experience but who feel they have an equal calling and passion for business and mission and are looking for ways to make sense of that.

… More mature people who sense God moving them into something new and for whom ‘retooling’ and ‘retraining’ are well understood concepts.

…. Those who have spent years working in business or a profession in a niche role and might describe themselves as business people or professionals but not necessarily as entrepreneurs…. Those whose skills and roles are desperately needed in the in kingdom businesses, but who might need a jump-start or a clear connection with an opportunity.

…. Those who have both a business and mission background. They might find themselves in partnership with or even on staff of a mission agency that has incorporated a business as mission strategy… or they might be ‘sent out’ directly by their church.

For us a particular hope and prayer for the coming years is that many, many more training models of all sizes and shapes (from internships, to seminars, to university courses, to.. ?) will be developed to meet the growing need for equipping.

It seems natural to us that the business as mission movement will be lead and propelled by the Christian business community (with hopefully the rest of the ‘body’ in support!). We envisage that more and more specialised support structures, along with churches will provide the equipping and nurturing that is required. Although we, like many mission colleagues, are busy making room for business as mission within our organsiations… We expect that most of the future growth will rightly continue beyond the capacity and borders of traditional models and agencies – so that we really do have the multiplication of workers in the harvest fields that Jesus spoke of.

However, we also hope that the business as mission movement will continue to evolve with strategic partnerships at the core… Where we are moving away from limiting and polarising, towards making more room for each to make their best contribution... Where we can genuinly hold our hands up and say ‘I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow’.
Valuable questions remain for all of us: What are the strategic partnerships that God is leading me/us to that will propel us forward? How can we serve this business as mission movement with what we have in our hand, whilst building capacity for the future? How can we particularly contribute our strengths and experience – and who has the strengths that we lack?

Above all, as we spend time thinking about recruiting, training and deployment, let us keep looking at the ‘grand vista’ before us – the big picture, a prayer: LORD, let your Kingdom come, let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

The Introduction to Business as Mission Course is a 3 or 5 week training course for those exploring or involved in business as mission – more information about the course can be found at www.businessasmission.com or contact bamtraining@oval.com. iBAM training is facilitated by the YWAM Business as Mission Resource Team in partnership with teachers, coaches and business people. The Business as Mission Resource team was established in 2001 to serve business as mission movement.

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posted by Justin Forman | 9.14.2009 - 8:13 AM


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