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Top 10 BAM Books: Roadmap to Business as Mission Success

by | Jan 29, 2024 | Articles, Missions, Resources

Missional Marketplace – Erik Cooper

The purpose of “The Missional Marketplace” is to offer a comprehensive overview of the pivotal concepts integral to the Business as Mission (BAM) movement, Theology of Work, and the Sacred-Secular Divide. As readers explore the burgeoning library of literature surrounding the global BAM network, Erik Cooper’s book stands out by providing rich illustrations and engaging narratives. These elements not only make the content accessible but also deeply resonate with readers, enabling a profound understanding of how everyday business activities can be a powerful medium for spiritual expression and mission.

Start Here.

This book is not about the nuances of business as mission. However, I recommend it as a starting point for covering the ideas of BAM, faith and work, and our struggle to integrate the two both in the Christian majority and in missional contexts.


Missions Disrupted – Larry Sharp

Missions Disrupted” is a beautiful description of how real business is being used for God‘s mission in the world. What makes the book unique, however, is Sharp’s background as a missions director. He sees missionaries abandoning the old model of BAM for a new,  more holistic approach that is not rooted in two identities. Larry also points out the ways that missions organizations can come alongside these missional entrepreneurs and use their expertise, not as a barrier to change, but as an engine for the mission of God.

The aptly subtitled book focuses on how missionary work is rapidly changing. If we are to reach the unreached, we need to begin raising up the whole church, not just a select few ministry professionals to do so.

Larry Sharp has been instrumental in the development of the BAM movement. He is one of the founders of IBEC and for many years was VP of business partnerships at the missions organization CrossWorld.


Tentmaking – Patrick Lai

Patrick Lai’s “Tentmaking” is perhaps the first exhaustive work on the subject. Lai had 23 years in missions and tentmaking at the time of writing.

Drawing research from over 450 businesses to procure this book, Tentmaking is an essential guide for individuals who aspire to intertwine their professional careers with their Christian faith, or venture out into the business as mission world.

At the time of writing, tentmaking was an all encompassing term for BAM. It has since been more narrowly and more accurately defined as any work that is self-supported – often take-a-job work.

The book is the foundational piece for much of BAM writing and development in many organizations today.

Patrick Lai is also the founder of OPEN Network.


BAM Global Movement – Gea Gort & Mats Tunehag

BAM Global Movement,” co-authored by Gea Gort and Mats Tunehag, stands as a distinctive and authoritative resource within the Business as Mission (BAM) literature. Gea Gort, a cofounder and leader of the BAM movement in the Netherlands, and Mats Tunehag, Chairman of BAM Global, bring a wealth of firsthand experience and leadership to the table, offering readers an insider’s perspective on the evolution and current dynamics of BAM worldwide.

What sets this book apart is not just the depth of knowledge of its authors but also their global perspective and network, which allows them to present a diverse and comprehensive view of BAM practices across different cultures and economies.

The book is rich with real-world examples, case studies, and stories that not only illustrate the transformative impact of BAM but also provide practical guidance for navigating the complexities of doing business with a missional heart.

The book emphasizes the global implications of BAM versus the purely cross-cultural missions use of the term as was seen in earlier years, and provides a rich education on the nuances and developments across the world.


The Missional Entrepreneur – Mark L. Russell

The Missional Entrepreneur” by Mark Russell is a concise yet comprehensive guide for integrating business acumen with a missional heart. Tailored for those already familiar with the Business as Mission (BAM) framework, this book dives into the practicalities of aligning entrepreneurial ventures with spiritual objectives.

Russell, with his rich experience, offers a pragmatic approach, blending theological insights with real-world business strategies. He addresses the challenges of maintaining spiritual integrity in business and provides a robust framework for navigating the complexities of cultural, economic, and ethical dilemmas in diverse mission fields.

What sets this book apart is its actionable guidance, making it a practical resource for entrepreneurs eager to make their business a platform for mission. Through engaging case studies and insightful analysis, “The Missional Entrepreneur” serves as an essential roadmap for those aspiring to make a meaningful impact in the marketplace and beyond.


Scatter – Andrew Scott

Scatter” is a unique perspective in the sea of BAM books that addresses the often forgotten take-a-job route for work among UPGs.

If the mission of God is for all of us and not just a select few, then it is not limited to pastors and missional professionals, but it is also not limited to entrepreneurs and investors either.

Globalization has come.

There are non-believers living as expats and taking jobs in foreign countries than there are believers. Why is this?

Andrew Scott challenges our view of what a “missionary” looks like, and aptly subtitles the book “Go Therefore And Take Your Job With You.”

Scott is the President and CEO of Operation Mobilization USA.

The book is a vibrant manifesto for the ‘Scatter Movement,’ a vision where men and women are mobilized in their professions to go into the world, live out their calling, and bring about transformation in their spheres of influence. Scott’s message is clear: mission is not just for missionaries; it’s for engineers, teachers, entrepreneurs, and anyone who is willing to be used by God.


7 Reasons Tentmaking Businesses Fail – Toby Miles

In “7 Reasons Tentmaking Businesses Fail and How to Overcome Them,” Toby Miles offers a practical examination of the challenges faced by missional entrepreneurs in cross-cultural or unreached areas.

Miles draws from extensive research and personal experience to outline the seven most significant reasons tentmaking businesses struggle or fail.

These are good!

If you’re looking for a more practical guide that will give you some handles for doing BAM and avoiding common pitfalls, this is it!

What sets this book apart is its focus on not just surviving but thriving in the tentmaking arena. Miles emphasizes the importance of integrating business excellence with spiritual integrity, offering a roadmap for building sustainable, impactful businesses that serve as platforms for ministry and mission.


Great Commission Companies – Steve Rundle & Tom Steffen

Great Commission Companies” by Steve Rundle and Tom Steffen is a seminal work in the Business as Mission (BAM) literature, penned by two of the early pioneers of the modern BAM movement. The authors focus on larger scale businesses and point out the measurable differences between those and other BAM or traditional missions work.

Rundle and Steffen bring a wealth of experience and scholarly research to the table. Notably, Rundle’s work on the comparative effectiveness of investment versus donations in BAM is groundbreaking. His findings that investment in BAM not only leads to more profitable outcomes but also yields greater spiritual impact are both compelling and instructive.

“Great Commission Companies” goes beyond theory, providing readers with practical guidance on how to establish and run businesses that align with the Great Commission. The authors’ deep understanding of the complexities of cross-cultural mission work, combined with their expertise in business, makes this book an insightful read for Bammers.


Faith Driven Entrepreneur – Henry Kaestner, J.D. Greear, & Chip Ingram

You might be wondering why this book is in this list.

As the Lausanne Covenant and BAM Global both clearly affirm, BAM is about taking the whole gospel to the whole world from the whole church. As you will see in the next book recommendation, business for transformation is exclusive to business among unreached people groups in the least reached areas of the world.

Faith Driven Entrepreneur” by Henry Kaestner, J.D. Greear, and Chip Ingram outlines what it means to be a Christian entrepreneur.

The book delves into the challenges and opportunities that Christian entrepreneurs face, offering practical wisdom and spiritual guidance. Kaestner, Greear, and Ingram address key topics such as integrating faith into business practices, making ethical decisions, and building a company culture that reflects Christian principles. They also explore the broader impact that faith-driven businesses can have on communities and the marketplace.


Business for Transformation – Patrick Lai

Business for Transformation” by Patrick Lai is a very practical guide for those looking to use business as a platform for spiritual and social impact among UPGs. As one of Lai’s later books, Business for Transformation came to be defined as a more specific subset of BAM that is exclusive to UPG areas.

If you’re going to be launching a business among the least reached, this one is a must read.

Lai discusses how businesses can be strategically used to bring about positive change in communities, addressing social issues, creating jobs, and ultimately, introducing people to the Christian faith. He provides a clear framework for how to set up and run a business that is financially viable, socially responsible, and spiritually impactful.

What makes “Business for Transformation” stand out is Lai’s emphasis on practicality. He doesn’t just present ideals; he offers real, actionable steps and considerations for entrepreneurs and business professionals. From understanding cultural nuances to developing a robust business plan that aligns with missional goals, Lai covers a range of crucial topics with clarity and depth.


BONUS BOOK: The Steward Investor – Donald E. Simmons

Don Simmons has been a certified financial planner of 30 years. After decades in the industry, he was struck by the profoundly unbiblical trends in traditional investment portfolios of those in the church. While we were intent on giving to missions and supporting the church, our 401ks, IRAs, and other investments looked no different from the world.

The Steward Investor advocates for placing a spotlight of holiness on our investments. There is no sacred/secular divide, and that must carry over into our investment strategies as well.

What is especially unique about Don Simmon’s book is that he not only addresses the need for Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI), but he also addresses the burgeoning BAM movement and its needs for investment as well.

Why not use our pretax dollars for the kingdom as well? Doesn’t God own all of our finances? Why do we surrender the tithe to him, but then invest in companies that actively give to sinful practices?


So What’s The Roadmap?


TL;DR

  1. Missional Marketplace, by Erik Cooper
  2. Missions Disrupted, by Larry Sharp
  3. Tentmaking, by Patrick Lai
  4. BAM Global Movement, by Gea Gort & Mats Tunehag
  5. The Missional Entrepreneur, by Mark Russell
  6. Scatter, by Andrew Scott
  7. 7 Reasons Tentmaking Businesses Fail and How to Overcome Them, by Toby Miles
  8. Great Commission Companies, by Steve Rundle & Tom Steffen
  9. Faith Driven Entrepreneur, by Henry Kaestner, J.D. Greear, & Chip Ingram
  10. Business for Transformation, by Patrick Lai
  11. BONUS BOOK: The Steward Investor, by Donald E. Simmons, CFP

Jon B

Jon has spent his career as a serial entrepreneur and business consultant both in the US and abroad in missions contexts. From a young age he has worked to marry a calling to missions and gifting for business. He is currently the Director of BAM Coaching and Business Incubation at The Stone Table.

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