Our Story – About iBAMHow We Blend Missions, Disciple-Making, and Business into a ‘Whole-Life’ Church Planting Movement
The motivation for International Business as Mission began when founder S.A. went to Bangkok in 2004 on a mission trip with his church. Over the next ten years, they planted 30 churches and saw 1500 new believers come to Christ. It was a disciple-making movement. But something was missing.
Our founder was a businessman. Having left a comfortable career in banking at God’s urging, he started his own business and was having great success. But he couldn’t see himself working as a traditional missionary in a way that would use his very particular strengths and passions. Most missionaries bring skills from medicine, education, social work, those sorts of things.
His pastor suggested he go on a business-driven mission trip. So in 2007 he got trained and went to Russia, where he launched new business startups led by entrepreneurs he had trained, who were also believers. Their aim was to build God’s Kingdom by making disciples through business. When he saw the incredible impact, he realized that this is what God wanted him to do.
He started developing a program and a business training curriculum, and tested his vision in Serbia in 2009, and again in the Middle East in 2011. From there, it grew to where it is today, touching nations all over the world and accelerating new church plants alongside newly launched Christian-owned local businesses.
iBAM is driven by three intertwining pursuits – missions, disciple-making, and business.
Missions Are the Heart of Jesus
Jesus spoke and taught extensively about the Kingdom of God. It was his #1 topic of conversation and the subject of most of his parables. In one, he compares God’s Kingdom to a mustard seed.
It starts very small. But with watering and tending, over time it grows to be one of the largest trees that brings life and comfort to those around. But do all trees grow at the same rate? Church history makes clear that the answer is no. Some disciple-making movements catch fire and spread quickly.
That kind of acceleration is what drives iBAM’s strategy.
Disciple-Making Is More than Just Being ‘Saved’
In perhaps his most consequential parable, Jesus speaks about a sower casting seed on different types of soil. Many of the seeds fall on soil that isn’t suited for producing healthy plants and fruit. Those people appear to get saved, but quickly fall away. The goal is to find the good soil, which will produce quality fruit.
What is fruit? Fruit in the parable means multiplication. The good soil produces a crop that is 30, 60, and 100 times more than the original seed. That’s disciple-making – training leaders, ministers, AND average church members to take what they’ve learned and use it to teach others, as 2 Timothy 2:2 says.
We don’t just want to see people get ‘saved’ and then do nothing with it, hiding it under bushel. We want it to spread beyond them. We want them to be so enraptured by God’s mercy, love, power, and goodness that they devote their lives to sharing it and teaching it to others.
Business as Mission – James 2:15-16
What does business have to do with this? There are five reasons using business to plant churches and make disciples leads to acceleration. See 5 reasons why business as mission works
The answer can be summed up in James 2:15-16:
If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
The question from this verse is – what is ‘necessary’ for people living in economically distressed regions and nations?
What does it mean to meet their needs? Should we just make them dependent on outside aid? An endless stream of donations and giveaways? Those help in the short term, and in natural disasters they are essential. But over a lifetime? That approach doesn’t work. See the Kosovo example.
The idea is, planting churches and making disciples is much more difficult when most people have no stable sources of income and have to struggle just to survive.
It’s hard to grow a church full of unemployed, desperate people.
Without stable, well-paying work, people’s practical needs simply don’t get met on a consistent basis – let alone the needs of the church. The result? People move away. And the church suffers unending losses of promising disciples.
Kosovo’s Example – Toxic Aid
But iBAM has produced permanent change in Kosovo through strong relationships with local partners. With their help, we have trained local entrepreneurs to launch businesses that are now powering locally-driven church planting and disciple-making movements.
What Is Necessary?
What is needed is the power, ability, and resources to make wealth through businesses. These in turn produce reliable, well-paying jobs, steady income for the workers, and benefits for the whole community.
Who Benefits from Strong Locally Owned Businesses?
They bring home consistent paychecks. They acquire and develop new skills. They get respect from others in the community, and from within their own families.
Whoever the business serves, it is meeting their needs in ways that were not met before.
It is inevitable that one successful business ends up benefiting other businesses. Suppliers, inventory and organization management, packaging, marketing, design, maintenance – one single new business touches many others and spreads its economic benefits to them. A rising tide lifts all boats.
The local church relies on financial support. It has been that way since the very beginning. Even Jesus received financial support. A church full of jobless people isn’t going to last long. The minister is worthy of his wages, but the members need to have something before they can tithe it.
A healthy business paying good wages to employees who may also be part of the church will enable the local church leaders to plant their roots, grow the church, and make disciples who make disciples.
Every country is different, but many poorer nations are poor in part because their governments simply don’t have enough revenue coming in to fund even their most basic services. A thriving local business strengthens the government, which assuming the absence of corruption, benefits the whole community.
Put all this together and what happens?
More people with better jobs and stable lives can be part of a strong local church that considers disciple-making as its primary mission.
Even better, all business owners trained by iBAM commit to disciple-making as a core motivation for owning their business. Spreading the gospel is part of their mission – as a business owner. Whether it’s employees, customers, other businesses, the church, the government, or even their own family – the business owner’s faith and commitment to producing fruit for God’s Kingdom through disciple-making drives everything they do.
The mustard seed will grow, because God is causing the growth.
With local businesses owned and operated by mission-driven believers, the seed will grow faster, spread to more places, and cause Spirit-driven transformation to spread throughout the region.
That’s why iBAM uses business as mission. Because business creates the conditions for acceleration. More nations, more people groups, and more languages will be reached, and more good soil will receive the seed and the water needed to replicate and multiply.