by Michael Baer
Business as mission (BAM) is an ongoing topic of discussion and has yielded much interest. Michael Baer’s aptly titled new book addresses this topic from personal experience and with a practical tone.
YWAM Publishing, P.O. Box 55787, Seattle, WA 98155, 2006, 157 pages, $12.99.
—Reviewed by Mark L. Russell, doctoral student, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky.
Business as mission (BAM) is an ongoing topic of discussion and has yielded much interest. Michael Baer’s aptly titled new book addresses this topic from personal experience and with a practical tone. After getting a masters of theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and serving in the pastorate for fifteen years, Baer was called by God to become a business executive. Sharing from his twenty-five years of business experience, Baer speaks about BAM from his heart.
The book contains five sections. The first four describe a kingdom business as vocational, intentional, relational and operational. The final section shows what a Christian business executive can do to move toward having a kingdom business. “Vocational” means that business is an authentic calling from God. “Intentional” means that God has a unique purpose for each business. “Relational” means that relationships are where Christ is glorified. “Operational” means that a kingdom business is managed with excellence.
This book is well written and enjoyable. Its straightforwardness and simplicity is its strength. Deep theological truth is packaged in clear and concise terms. Missionaries and business professionals will benefit from Baer’s insights. Although the book is a recommended read, there is one significant downside: there is little interaction with other BAM books, resulting in a need for additional resources. There are no footnotes and a very short bibliography. Missiologists looking to go deeper will want to consult additional titles. For case studies, see Yamamori and Eldred (2003) and Rundle and Steffen (2003). Although Baer mentions personal experience in some of the most unreached places on earth, he does not give much detail.
The book does not address the possible negative consequences of running a kingdom business with a pluralistic staff. Will workers feel compelled to go to Bible study? How does an executive avoid giving subtle signals that Christians have a better future at the company? These genuinely sensitive topics need to be discussed further (see Eldred 2005).
The book also does not discuss the possible negative consequences of integrating economic enterprise and missionary activity. This merger was done well and poorly during the period of Colonialism. We need discussion so that in the future we eliminate the negative and maximize the positive.
The book seems intended for Christian business executives. It is good as an introductory overview on the topic. It would be ideal to use in a discussion group with marketplace leaders. This is the book’s most significant contribution.
Check these titles:
Bakke, Dennis. 2006. Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job. Seattle, Wash.: PVG.
Eldred, Ken. 2005. God is at Work: Transforming People and Nations Through Business. Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books.
Rundle, Steve and Tom Steffen. 2003. Great Commission Companies: The Emerging Role of Business in Missions. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Stevens, R. Paul. 2006. Doing God’s Business: Meaning and Motivation for the Marketplace. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.
Yamamori, Tetsunao and Ken Eldred. 2003. On Kingdom Business: Transforming Missions Through Entrepreneurial Strategies. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.
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