First element of the triple bottom line (TBL)– Spiritual Transformation.
Spiritual transformation is the first facet of the TBL and is the most crucial in distinguishing a missional enterprise from any other business venture. It is the hardest to accomplish and measure, but requires living out The Navigator Core and aiming for a multi-generational ministry starting within the context of a business. Although every missional enterprise needs to intentionally pursue the spiritual bottom line, the appearance can vary significantly between enterprises and regions of the world.
The intentional pursuit of a spiritual bottom line within the framework of The Navigators Core is the responsibility of every missional enterprise. There are almost an unlimited number of factors that influence the context and therefore the look of the spiritual transformation bottom line in each missional enterprise. Intentionality and integration is required.
By JACK BENJAMIN
I will never forget the moment 24-years ago when Aldo Berndt, the Latin America Regional Director at that time and a man for whom I have deep respect, made this stunning comment:
“It is cruel to talk about the Great Commission in two-thirds of the world.”
“How could that be?” I thought to myself. “The Great Commission is the reason my wife and I just moved to Colombia with our three young children!”
After Aldo’s bold statement, he saw my distress. So with a gentle smile, Aldo went on to clarify. When fully funded gift-income missionaries launch a new work with the hope of reproducing and sending out laborers, those new laborers often don’t have the funding capacity or time to replicate what the missionary had modeled.
The consequence is that future generations of laborers may become discouraged and end up giving the work of the ministry to the “full-time” workers.
“If we want to see nations reached for Christ,” Aldo went on to say, “we must offer the majority of people a different model, one that is more realistic and replicable in their context.”
Since that time, Navigators in Latin America have been taking strategic initiatives in response to the challenge that their Regional Director articulated. For example, Jimmy Payton had started a leather goods manufacturing and export business in Bogotá, named Tenazcol. Employees, customers and suppliers—all those relating in some way with Tenazcol—saw that this business was different. They heard the Gospel message and saw it in action. Many were irresistibly drawn to Christ and followed Him.
The daily opportunity for Jimmy to work side-by-side with his staff proved to be an ideal arrangement for life-on-life discipleship. Some of those employees were discipled well and have gone on to lead the next generation in Colombia.
A decade later, Jimmy and Roberto Blauth (from Brazil), who were serving in Aguascalientes, Mexico, began a construction business called Casas Mas that provided low-cost homes to the community. As with Tenazcol, Casas Mas became a place where life-on-life discipleship and the Scriptures combined with God’s Spirit to make Jesus real to many.
It wasn’t long before a vibrant community of faith grew up in Aguascalientes and, energized by Casas Mas, contributed significantly to a new generation of laborers in Mexico. The word spread and a number of emerging laborers from around Latin America chose to intern in Casas Mas and serve in the Aguascalientes work as part of their ministry training. Today most of them are laboring fruitfully around the region.
In recent years, a group of Navigator alumni who are successful Mexican professionals, including a former Casas Mas general manager, have come together to launch a new generation of missional enterprises like Tenazcol and Casas Mas. United by this passion, they provide mentoring, subject matter expertise, whole-life discipling and funding to aspiring missional entrepreneurs—people who can serve as Gospel pioneers in other nations.
The Navigators have been involved with missional enterprises for more than three decades. Each of the seven regions in the Worldwide Partnership has missional enterprise initiatives as part of their overall strategy to advance the Navigator calling. Such enterprises help not only to gain access to closed or hard-to-reach places, but also to establish credibility with the local community in which they are operating.
Please pray that God will continue to lead our leaders to work together to start and sustain missional enterprises that truly fulfill our calling.
You can watch a short video about Jimmy and Roberto in Aguascalientes below.
Jack Benjamin is director of the Global Enterprise Network for our Worldwide Partnership.
We often praise individuals who are entirely themselves, pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps and achieving success. We are exhorted through scriptures like Psalms 139:14 to stand as individuals and focus on how God has created us.
“ I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
It is true how God has uniquely crafted every person. But if we are imposing or separating ourselves from others through our "uniquely individual" perspective, how do we address "adapting" to engage the values and customs of the other cultures we are seeking to live and disciple among?
In “The Missional Entrepreneur,” Mark Russell addresses a crucial topic regarding the necessity for missional entrepreneurs to understand and respect their new cultural context.
In the past, many missionaries sent to the "lost " were Americans. As Americans, we have been raised in an “Individualistic, Universalistic, and Monochromatic” environment. In other words, Americans are taught and naturally bring to the mission field how to:
The cultural values Americans have been raised in are viewed differently in the cultures they are seeking to live and disciple among. For example, Asian and Latin American cultures often function as “Collective, Particularistic, and Polychromatic” socities. This challenges missional entrepreneurs to:
Understanding and abiding to these cultural adaptations is not denying your self or your heritage. “Contextualizing” is living out the calling to serve as a relational and personal witness, to give up our self, and to love others first in a new set of cultural values. Paul describes his journey as:
"For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Every missional entrepreneur will face the challenge to remain comfortable and stagnant in their own cultural context. Yet, remaining unwilling to see the world through a different perspective, or understand the customs of different cultures, will weaken our ability to see the gospel of Jesus and his Kingdom advance through generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost.
- GEN Desk Director
Consider Foreign to Familiar by Sarah Lanier for further reading on cultures, adaptation, and contextualization.