How can the gospel spread via a business enterprise? This seems to be one of the major obstacles for Business And Mission practioners. A discussion that exposes even the most ardent BAMer’s fears.
Most of us have seen evangelism done poorly. Too often, the fear of poor evangelism is what drives us to not do evangelism at all. Especially in our businesses.
Unfortunately, this also carries over to many of us who start BAM projects–even though these projects are primarily started in order to deliver the biblical mandate of the Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven.
If you’ve read the article on What is BAM? you will know that we identified that BAM projects need to deliver, at an order of magnitude greater than regular Christian living, some Jesus centered spiritual outcomes for it to be a true BAM project. The fact that we even have to explicitly say this is a testament to the fact that all-too-often BAM projects struggle in the area of introducing Jesus to the people who the business comes into contact with.
To help provide a solution to meet the felt need in the BAM community, we needed to understand:
- How to effectively introduce the gospel into a community?
- How to break down what processes are necessary for the introduction of the gospel into digestible parts that busy BAMers could absorb?
- How do we build an inexpensive, accessible, and scalable delivery system for people to learn these processes?
Item 1 – Discovering How the Gospel Moves
To tackle this we used our contacts in the mission field, and coupled that with our own experiences. We explored what was happening in the regions of the world where gospel movements are exploding.
For example, we have contacts working in the middle-east who in the last few years have participated in a huge outbreak of the gospel that has led to over 100,000 people come to Christ.
Another of our contacts has worked in southern Africa and is connected to a movement of the gospel that has led to over 5000 new churches.
We also worked with seminary trained movement experts who are documenting how these movements are breaking out around the world. Taking this data, we integrated it with ministries we were directly involved in throughout Europe and the United States. This allowed us to discover the biblical and practical steps, (we believe God has provided the Church with), for how the gospel moves through communities today.
Item 2 – Breaking Down the Steps
Once we gathered the data to determine what we believe was one of the ways God has given the Church to bring the gospel to the lost, we needed to break it down into concrete doable steps.
As we experimented with possible steps, we tested them in real world environments. We not only tried them out ourselves, but we also started to equip groups of people interested in outreach in different parts of the world. We were encouraged by the results as we started to see people come to Christ in ways we would not have originally imagined.
We also realised that if these steps truly led to people coming to Christ in a way that could lead to gospel movement, that it was necessary to present the data in a way that could be used no matter what the context.
In our experience, people regularly dismiss workable solutions under the guise that ‘it won’t work in our community or our context’. Since they are the experts in their community, it’s difficult to refute as an outsider.
To combat that, we chose to use abstract makers, that then could be applied different contexts appropriately. This means we believe these steps can be used in any context. This was important as we wanted to be able to share the resources created with both BAM projects and ministries.
We chose to call the four major stages ‘milestones’. We called them milestones because we see the process of getting to gospel movement as a journey. Each community seeking to work towards gospel movement needs to get through these sequential steps, viewing each step as milestones to reach seemed appropriate.
There are four major milestones, but several key steps in between them. For illustrative purpose I will cover briefly the 4 milestones and how they can be applied in a business context.
However, for the detailed training, you will need to see the resource we created for BAM and ministry practioners alike; which is at the bottom of this article.
CONNECT – The first thing to consider is where your business connects with people far from God. This will be different for every context. For a business, I would challenge the leaders to consider all the different places they interact with people.
Many business leaders immediately jump to their customers, (which sometimes elicits all sorts of fears that we are going to ask them to set up a street preacher in their main workplace–not the case at all). What we often encourage business leaders to consider is to think of all the different places they interact with people (including customers). What about your suppliers and vendors? What about your staff? What about your peers in the industry you might related to? Trade groups, conventions etc?
These are all places that God has placed you into other people’s lives and provide a potential place for God to show up.
Once the business leader becomes adept at letting the gospel flow through their business project, they can start to think of the need to ‘connect’ in marketing terms. The same thinking that goes into marketing your company’s product can be applied to the gospel message. (The gospel has the potential to be the most meaningful product your company brings into the world.) But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Onto Share:
SHARE – Once you’ve identified the people God has placed in front of your business enterprise for you to ‘connect’ with, the next milestone you’re trying to reach is ‘share’.
‘Share’ is the skill we spend the most time on in training because it’s the one most people feel the least equipped to do well. Again, I will point you to the actual training resource at the bottom of this article to get the detailed version of ‘share’ as that should allay any fears you might have.
The ‘nutshell’ version of what business leaders need to understand with ‘share’ is that you’re not trying to convince or sell anyone anything. What business leaders need to understand is that God is already out there working.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”Jesus in John 6:44
This is an amazing opportunity. What this means is that God is already drawing people to Jesus, and you just need to find them. The joy in the process is to understand that you are actually doing that person a favour by giving them permission to talk about God.
So ‘SHARE’ is the opposite of arguing with someone who is combative. It is actually just making yourself available to those who are desperate to find out more about God because the Father is drawing them to Jesus. We cover this in the resource at the bottom under the section “The Queue and the Traffic Light”.
In a business context there are a variety of ways this might be done appropriately. One just needs to learn the key skills, and the think creatively about how to apply them within their context.
GATHER & TRAIN – ‘Gather’ and ‘Train’ are the final two milestones, and again we go into detail in the training resource linked at the bottom of this article. The crux of ‘gather’ and ‘train’ is the idea that:
Your evangelism strategy will only be as successful as your discipleship strategy.
One could argue that this is one of the meanings of the ‘parable of the sower’ found in Matt 13 and elsewhere. We need to design good discipleship methodologies for those who are new to Jesus so they can grow and multiply.
For a Christian growing up in the church, they may have a perspective that ‘gather’ and ‘train’ only happens in a Christian church building. Certainly, churches are good places for ‘gather’ and ‘train’ for some people, but for some, who are far from God, there needs to be some creative alternatives–at least initially.
Here again BAM projects can provide things that traditional ministries cannot. It may be less intimidating for a brand new Christian to be discipled in a business context at first rather than going to church.
A lot of the genius in the process that we teach is how people implement ‘gather’ and ‘train’. Done well, ‘train’ will lead to exponential growth as it leads to these new disciples going out and themselves ‘connecting’ with others far from God.
Item 3 – The Delivery System
We needed to get this information out to whomever needed it, in an affordable, scalable, and consumable way. We landed on using an internet based system which used short, professionally produced training videos which delivered the training in bite-sized chronological steps.
We branded it Mission365 to reinforce the idea that mission is something we should be doing all the time.
A lot of missiological thought went into where we filmed and how we presented each of the videos.
We filmed in non-religious locations (including using the coffee shop, Kahaila, mentioned in the article BAM Success), to help the viewer get a feel for the sort of locations ‘connect’ and ‘share’ would occur.
We tried to keep each video training to one subject and cover it in a matter of minutes. That gives viewers the ability to learn one or two key skills if they only have a short amount of time, but also those who want the entire training can sit down and watch it sequentially.
On the ‘advanced’ tab we added the extra resources required when users get to the last step. We also link them to other websites and resources they can explore for additional learning.
The website will work on a computer, tablet, or phone, and is provided free of charge in order to make it as accessible as possible.
We believe the Mission365 tool is a great forward step which enables business leaders to discover new ways allowing the gospel message to flow through their enterprises. The training dispels myths, and helps people to learn to think differently about outreach. It equips people with concrete steps, and provides additional resources.
That’s not to say that there isn’t room for improvement. We recognise the challenge for users is how to apply the principles in their context. The principles do work, but sometimes users need some extra help knowing how they might work in their context.
If you struggle to apply Mission365 concepts to your business, we would suggest taking the space to think entrepreneurially about it. Brainstorm with your team as you would a new product launch. Think structurally about how to implement these ideas. Do you have a CFO or COO? Perhaps you need a CSO, a Chief Spiritual Officer that has C-Suite authority to assess, measure, implement and hold accountable the organisation so that it can deliver spiritual results. We believe if you can apply the same prayerful ingenuity that you use to make your business a success, you will find ways to apply these ideas and see God reap the fruit as a result.
An example of a potential upgrade would be to compile a list of real world examples of how these are applied in a variety of contexts. We could include video interviews of people who have discovered an innovative ‘connect’, ‘share’, ‘gather’, and ‘train’ strategy for their context or business.
The purpose of this article, in addition to equipping people with new ideas for how the gospel might work through their own BAM project, is to help readers understand how we at ‘BusinessAndMission.org’ work. To that end, we hope that this has helped.
If you have questions, please feel free to reach out using our contact form.
Our heart is that the world would know the love of God through Jesus; and we believe business leaders starting BAM projects can be a primary way that happens.