BAM stands for Business As Mission. It is related to but different from a few concepts.
BAM is related to but different from Business For Mission (BFM). BFM focuses on dedicating part of all of profit that is generated from a business for the mission purpose. So there is a chance that the process of doing business in a godly way may be compromised with the worldly practices. Also it may cause a dualistic thinking and approach between business and mission. This has been around for a long time, but it is not BAM.
BAM is related to but different from Business And Mission (B and M). The business in B and M focuses on making a living to carry out traditional mission activities, such as church planting, bible translation, establishing bible college, medical mission etc. B and M, thus, clearly separates business from mission. Frequently people refer to this as a tent-making, like Paul did. But, if you understand what the "skole" meant during the first century like the hall of Tyrannus, you know that the business and evangelism/mission were all integrated. Anyway, B and M is not BAM.
BAM is NOT related to and thus completely different from Business as a cover-up or BAC. BAC is a fake business without honesty and integrity. Some people used business to enter into a country hostile to Christianity, but did not carry out any genuine business. Thus it is not a business, neither BAM.
BAM necessitates the business to be identified as a mission. Business equates the mission, in other words. They are alter ego. Business is mission. BAM thus is a genuine business that is sustainable on its own operations, providing quality products and/or services of excellence in a way that reflects the love and values of Jesus Christ. BAM may or may not be involved in any explicit Christian or evangeltical or missional activities, but the purpose and mission of the business centers around the Great Commission and the ultimate transformation of the people whom the business serves. The owners, the board and the top management all are aligned with the same purpose and most, if not all, of the staff should also be aligned with the godly purposes. BAM focuses on not only the outcome of the business but also the process of business operations; not only the interest of shareholders and staff, but also the interest of clients and other stakeholders.
To be successful and effective, BAM requires two qualities of excellence: business and mission. To run a business effectively, he or she needs to know and apply sound business management principles on top of the knowledge about the products/services the business provides. Also, he or she needs to clearly understand and pursues intentionally Christian values based on godly Kingdom principles. It is not easy, therefore, to establish and run an effective BAM.
Even the world that is hostile to Christianity welcomes genuine businesses because they create jobs and employment. The business missionary also can relate well to people in the target country through the business that deals with day to day issues of life. BAM also provides self-sustainability if it is genuinely sustainable, thus not requiring on-going support. Normally, it also takes care of the visa requirement.
BAM is not a new concept, but a redefined and rediscovered concept for mission. The Lausanne Movement has adopted BAM as an official way of mission in 2004. There is Global Think-tank and Global Congress where strategic directions are discussed and decided. There was a Global Congress in Thailand in 2013.
Centering around this topic of BAM, a group of 42 people gathered together and shared their BAM cases and insights into a number of issues of life in the marketplace. The schedule was tight running from 7AM till 10PM, sometimes beyond 10PM, but the spirit was high among all participants and people were encouraged and inspired. I was one of the speakers and lectured on three topics. [Unfortunately, I am unable to put a photo of the participants due to the sensitivity of some participants.]
May the Lord continue to bless those who are involved in BAM as a creative mission strategy so that the gospel of love and hope may be shared with those who are still living in darkness. It is appropriate to quote this:
"Evangelize always, and use the Word if necessary."
It requires us to live out like Christ to be called Christians. It is lifestyle evangelism. BAM is a way of life to live the mission mandate. - Jeffrey