How iBAM Plants and Multiplies Churches through Business EntrepreneurshipThe iBAM Process
“A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” – Eccl 4:12
The heart of God is for his followers to plant and multiply churches and make disciples of all nations. It has been his heart since the very beginning. God promised Abraham that “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” through him, and later calls him the father of a “multitude of nations.”
So when Jesus told us to go make disciples of all nations in Matthew 28, he wasn’t telling us anything new. He was simply re-stating what God has wanted since the beginning – to touch every nation and tribe and tongue on earth with salvation and repentance.
IBAM’s mission is exactly that – to bring a witness of God’s power and love to all the nations, using a multiplication model for discipleship using business entrepreneurship.
Our process powers the planting and multiplying of churches through the creation of well-planned businesses that meet clear needs and solve real problems, and thus strengthen the community with good jobs and steady income. Those jobs and income help become the backbone of local churches, allowing them to plant deep roots.
In many struggling nations, the lack of financial resources and steady jobs is the number one barrier to planting and growing strong churches. A person gives his or her life to God, joins the church, and becomes an influential leader. But then, they have to move far away because there’s no work.
iBAM wants that to stop!
Our Alliance Partner Model combines the church-planting and discipleship strengths of other missional organizations with IBAM’s business training program to maximize our effectiveness and fruit for the Kingdom. This model is like interweaving three strands to make one powerful cord that is not easily broken because it doesn’t depend on one or just a handful of people.
Here are the details of how our process works:
Step 1: Select Alliance Partner
IBAM is always looking for strong alliance partners. These could be churches, but more often they are missionary organizations that specialize in planting churches and making disciples. The best alliance partners have a focus on a small number of nations, or even just a region within a nation. This way, they have deep understanding and knowledge of the culture and language, and have already established working relationships with key people from those communities.
We’re looking for partners who:
- Commit to using the tools IBAM has created – our curriculum, process, and software
- Have connections to a missionary or national leader in the field who recognizes how ‘business as mission’ can help lead to accelerated church planting
- Have business people in their group who are willing to train and be trained with our curriculum
- Can commit to a three year program
- Have the funding to see it through
Our alliance partners have helped us train new Christian business owners from places like Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, China, and Kosovo. These entrepreneurs are then able to support their local churches and equip them with the resources they need to plant deep roots and lead more people to Christ.
Step 2: Survey Trip to Select Potential New Business Owners
As the Alliance Partnership is forming, a survey trip is conducted. A team goes in to an area that may or may not have an existing church, and assesses the potential for business startups that will be run by locals to accelerate disciple making activity.
For example, there may be a small house church in an area that the Alliance Partner either knows about or helped start. They know the leaders. Those leaders share the opportunity with members of their community – that they can get trained to start a business.
They are looking for people with three qualities. To access our training, aspiring business owners must:
- Be a believer in Jesus
- Have an established history of good character – of practicing disciple-making activity
- Have the grit necessary to be an entrepreneur
Step 3: Phase 1 – Business Training Begins
Aspiring business owners in the program spend ten hours a day for about a week learning what the Bible says about work and money, as well as receiving practical equipping related to starting a business. They conclude by gaining insights in how to integrate disciple-making practices into their business routines.
We want all our business owners to have a strong foundation in what we call a Kingdom Business Plan. This is a business with a higher purpose than just making money. We want businesses that become fixtures in the community and also help spread the gospel.
But we also want businesses that succeed. Aspiring business owners are taught common reasons why businesses fail and why they succeed, and how to identify an idea and plan it out so it has a high chance of succeeding.
Over the past five years, IBAM has helped launch 32 businesses in multiple nations, and 91% of those businesses are still going – a testament to the effectiveness of our process.
Phase 1 concludes when each aspiring business owner does research and develops a basic plan for their business idea. They must have this plan ready before entering phase 2.
Step 4: Phase 2 – Business Prepares for Launch
In Phase 2, IBAM and alliance partner trainers help aspiring business owners determine the viability of their business plan, and work with them to strengthen it to the point where they will be able to launch.
Trainers help them figure out where their business idea fits in the market, what products and services they will offer, who their target customers are, and what it takes to start a business – including a budget.
But the money doesn’t come until the plan is ready, certified by the trainer as ready for launch.
Step 5: Business Launch Money Is Given
For business startups that complete Phase 2, the alliance partner gives them funds to help launch their business. The goal is for the money to be paid back to a local fund once the business succeeds so it can be reinvested in another business startup, thus repeating the cycle.
This is one reason we call this a multiplication approach to church planting.
Step 6: Launch and Grow the Business
The business owner launches the business with the help of their coach who will either be trained by IBAM or the alliance partner.
The coach will work with them about once a month for a 2-3 year period, helping them navigate those critical early years of business ownership. No one should undertake a venture this great all by themselves – especially in countries with high levels of poverty or corruption.
With the seed money and the ongoing business coaching, our newly trained business owners are never alone and have a high chance of success.
Step 7: Repay the Loan – Pay It Forward
As the business generates profits, it will be able to pay forward the equivalent of the granted startup funds so the same money can be given to the next aspiring business owner entering Phase 1, and the cycle repeats.
Step 8: Impact the Community for Jesus
As a successful business, the owner will now have the respect of others in the community, and this position will give them influence into many people’s lives that a typical missionary would never be able to reach.
The owner will be making business transactions with other businesses. They will be hiring people and providing good wages. They will operate their business with integrity and honesty, which will quickly give them a powerful witness for what God has done in their life.
And with their growing income, they’ll be able to support their local church with funds needed to solidify the church’s place in the community, even if it must remain concealed, as is necessary in some nations.