01.01: Introduction to Business for Transformation

Our company blesses and affirms the development of business as a valid way that followers of Jesus can engage in God’s mission. Our company affirms the gifts and skills God has given to business people and encourages them to exercise those gifts and skills as they participate in His mission wherever they are. We especially want to encourage and support Christians starting businesses in places where the church is weak or nonexistent, in order to embed Christian witness in a community where it otherwise would not be. In many places around the world, establishing a business may be the only way that a Christ-follower can inhabit a community and be a witness for Christ. Even in places where other means are available, establishing a business might still be the most effective for building relationships, creating natural opportunities for evangelism and discipleship, and improving the living conditions of the community.

Many in the missions community have offered good definitions of “Business for Transformation” and its alternative, “Business as Mission.” At our company, we use the term to describe “businesses that facilitate positive economic, social, environmental, and spiritual transformation in a community.” These four aspects are sometimes referred to as the quadruple bottom line. These bottom lines can at times be in tension with each other, but this tension is a normal part of the Christian life as we await the fullness of God’s restored kingdom.

The four bottom lines in Business for Transformation:

Economic: the business is profitable. Desire for profitability, however, must not prevent achievement of other essential end goals. Profitability is an indicator of a healthy company that sustains itself on the sales of its products and services. Profitability is an outcome of good business, but it is not an adequate end goal in and of itself. Our company considers each context and business model in terms of when the business should become profitable, level of profitability, and what standards should assess the business’s profitability.

Social: the business improves the life and relationships of each person it touches. Employees and customers are the primary relationships within the business, but there are also suppliers, distributors, creditors, bankers, government officials, and neighbors. In all of these relationships the business seeks to create peace, justice, and reconciliation in the midst of broken human relationships. 

Environmental: the business stewards God’s creation. Every business leaves an impact on the environment through the resources it uses, the goods and services it provides, and the waste that it produces. In all of these areas, the business has the opportunity to prevent or limit a negative impact, or to create a positive impact by improving the environment. The business takes responsibility for its impact on the environment and seeks ways to improve it.

Spiritual: the business creates opportunities for people to be reconciled to God through Christ Jesus. Through the business's presence, people are given the chance to hear and respond to the gospel, to become disciples of Jesus, and to be equipped for leading others in following Christ. Evangelism, discipleship, and equipping of leaders may occur within the business, or in certain contexts it may be appropriate to only conduct intentional, organized spiritual activities outside of the business or workday. Either way, the business is facilitating opportunities for evangelism, discipleship, and leadership training both within and outside of the business.