What is the difference between a Business As Mission (BAM) project and a company that is run by good Christian people?
To answer, let me ask you this: Should a missionary or pastor have something MEASURABLY different about their life than a non-vocational Christian?
We should all be doing bible study, prayer, and evangelism, so what is different for a pastor or a missionary versus someone who works in the secular world and attends on Sunday?
One answer: Scale.
There should be an order of magnitude difference between a pastor or missionary and someone who holds down a secular job. Generally, the pastor/missionary should end the week with more prayer, more study, more evangelism. And here’s the thing: this should be a measurable difference. As a rule of thumb, if you count up the hours, the conversations, the people hearing the gospel, you should be able to actually see this in the data.
(Of course, there are exceptions, and there are contexts where this won’t be true across the board, but I hope you will agree with me that this is true as a general rule.)
The same should be true for a BAM project. If you really are BAM, and you’re telling others you’re BAM, you are raising money because you’re BAM, there should be data to show that you are actively working to deliver the Spiritual Bottom Line at a level above some good Christians who owns and runs a business.
Consequently, it would be good to have an explicit plan stating how you intent to act in order to maximise what your project can do for the Kingdom. A plan that explains how you have thought through how you can bring the gospel into every place the Lord has opened up for you.
If you’re relying on anecdotal stories of someone coming to Christ here or there—as amazing as those stories are, I respectfully suggest that all Christians should have some of those.
Perhaps surprisingly, when I’m helping a BAM project, the data I’m looking at is not really the outputs, i.e. how many conversions. I’m more looking at the inputs: What is the plan to maximise the opportunity for the gospel to spread?
The missionary analogy is helpful here too. If I’m supporting a missionary in the deepest darkest jungle somewhere, I’m not really worried about how many conversions that happen as long as they are putting in the effort. They are a missionary because of the scale of the effort, not necessarily the results.
Sure results are important, and long-term lack of results may mean some skills training could be required, but what makes a missionary a missionary is the plan, the effort, the scale.
So too with a BAM project. If you want to have integrity to all those people who are supporting your project because you have called it a BAM project—not a social enterprise—then I would humbly suggest you work on putting in a plan to maximise the opportunity for the gospel to be appropriately shared wherever your BAM project touches people who are far from God.
Like a business plan for profitability, a spiritual plan for the Spiritual Bottom Line will make all the difference. I suspect someone, (maybe you), is responsible and accountable for the business plan. Remember what you don’t measure; and if any of what isn’t included are items pertaining to the Spiritual Bottom Line. We all measure what is important to us. Which are you measuring?
If you don’t have a plan, and aren’t delivering the Spiritual Bottom Line at scale, then perhaps you’re just some well-meaning Christian running a regular business or a social enterprise. Are you?