Business as Mission: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice

by C. Neal Johnson

This book is an excellent comprehensive guide for the BAM practitioner to keep on hand to refer to it over and over again.

IVP Academic, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515, 528 pages, 2010, $35.00.

Reviewed by Mark L. Russell, Ph.D., founder of Russell Media; author of The Missional Entrepreneur: Principles and Practices for Business as Mission.

Neal Johnson’s broad and diverse background and life positions him well to write this guide to business as mission (BAM). Johnson has served as a pastor, worked in BAM in Central Asia, earned a Ph.D. from Fuller on marketplace missiology, and worked in the corporate world as a banker and lawyer. This book is an excellent comprehensive guide for the BAM practitioner to keep on hand to refer to it over and over again.

This book is thorough: it has three parts, twenty-four chapters, and five helpful appendices. The first part, “Business as Mission: An Overview,” spans 186 pages. Johnson (1) defines BAM while acknowledging the fallibility of any definition, (2) exhibits understanding and care for the social consequences of business decisions, and (3) challenges rampant free-market global capitalism with friendly, yet necessary critique. The second part, “BAM—How to Do It,” is why BAM practitioners need this book. Johnson leaves no stone unturned. It was comforting that so many of his insights corresponded with my research on BAM. He takes note that most people do not really understand the complexities and difficulties involved when they launch a business—which is good as they might not begin if they knew all they would encounter!

There are five helpful appendices that provide encouraging quotes, useful checklists, and frameworks to help the BAM practitioner engage in meaningful analysis of his or her unique situation. Having read Johnson’s doctoral dissertation, I see this book as exactly what it should be: a helpful and thorough resource based upon years of hard work and research, yet delivered in an accessible and readable way for the highly motivated and engaged BAM practitioner.

Johnson’s work is not for those who are seeking a clever entry into a creative access country or for those who might want to operate a business on the side. Also, it might be too much for the casual churchgoer interested in connecting business to a higher purpose. Instead, it is for those who are going to fully embrace the promise and challenge of operating a business with the goal of contributing to the Missio Dei.

Check these titles:
Eldred, Ken. 2009. God Is at Work: Transforming People and Nations through Business. Ventura, Calif.: Manna Ventures.

Rundle, Steve and Tom Steffen. 2003. Great Commission Companies: The Emerging Role of Business in Missions. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.


EMQ, Vol. 46, No. 3, pp. 366, 368. Copyright  © 2010 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS).  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.


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