We are at the beginning of 2024. As we look back on last year and into the new year, let’s reflect on the “state of the union” (SOTU) in the B4T movement. We will be looking at where it has been (B4T 1.0), where it is now (B4T 2.0), and where it is heading (B4T 3.0).

B4T 1.0

Description: Missionaries who realized because of the way the world was changing and the identity they lacked among their host people, they needed to do business.

  • Transition from one paradigm to another with a lot of overlap.
  • Some businesses that looked a lot more like platforms[1] than real businesses.
  • Some time spent in the business, but “need to get to the important stuff” (business is a means to an end).
  • Widespread use of “missions” terminology with secure emails, VPNs, and latest secure communication platforms to keep locals from finding out the real purpose for being in country.

B4T 1.0 is like a group of people who need to get supplies into a remote area, so they cut down some trees and build out a small landing strip to land a tiny plane.

[1] In the OPEN Network, platform is akin to a four-letter word. It is used to specify a fake business that only exists on paper to grant an entry visa to an undercover missionary. We view this as unethical.

Single Strip Remote Airport

Figure 1 – Single Strip Remote Airport

B4T 2.0

Description: “Businessaries” trying to figure out how to integrate business and mission better than before.

  • In their home country, they are known as missionaries; in their host country, they are known as businesspeople.
  • Trying to do business but are not fully supported by the business (even post-startup phase).
  • Dual identity in transition: missionary à businessperson who loves Jesus.
  • Trying not to use “missions” terminology for fear of being found out in host country but use of secure communications platforms still common.

B4T 2.0 is likened to a regional airport that can move people and cargo over mid-range distances but isn’t able to support long-distance travel. A bigger airport is needed!

Single Strip Remote Airport

Figure 2 – Regional Airport

B4T 3.0

Description: Businesspeople who follow Jesus and live Kingdom-oriented lives anywhere they are.

  • In their home country, they are known as businesspeople; in their host country, they are still known as businesspeople.
  • They realize their future lifestyle comes from the profits or potential profits from their business, and they work hard.
  • They live an integrated life where they don’t see some things as more spiritual than others.
  • They no longer use secret “missions” terminology because they don’t feel it applies to their lives.

B4T 3.0 is like a large international airport that is capable of hosting far more travelers, including both locals heading somewhere far away and other passengers just transiting through. International airports need multiple terminals, more services, and can deal with many millions of people per year. For purposes of this illustration, I’ve chosen the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar.

Single Strip Remote Airport

Figure 3 – International Airport (Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar)

When I moved to Doha in 2013, the airport was a tiny backwater with inefficient, long lines and effectively no services. Before our second year in country, Hamad International was complete and traveling from or through Doha became a breeze. Though I haven’t lived there for four years at the time of this writing, I have transited through several times in the past couple of years. The airport continues to grow and has now added an orchard for travelers to walk through or take a nap in.

Single Strip Remote Airport

Figure 4 – Larger airport accommodates more opportunities for longer distance travel and more options

Our target market is growing to include more business professionals using their gifts working both in large international companies and within B4T businesses, while maintaining an appropriate focus on entrepreneurs. We are growing a larger ecosystem to launch more people with world-changing ideas. We are growing our mentor base and convincing more people to invite the accountability and growth that comes from being mentored. Our coaches continue to grow in their strengths and find skill gaps in B4Ters to home in on. We are growing a larger network of partners helping launch B4Ters and helping them thrive.

The Hamad International Airport now boasts a great variety of restaurants and shops, in addition to its orchard. A large ecosystem has been created in the airport that facilitates whatever needs travelers have as they transit the globe. We see OPEN similarly. It is a network for people to have their needs met via coaching, investing, mentoring, and comradery so that they can thrive and remain focused on the task in front of them. We want to build not just a small terminal that can launch a few planes over medium distances, but an entire ecosystem that even provides for rest within beautiful scenery while in transit (see picture of Hamad’s orchard below).

Single Strip Remote Airport

Figure 5 – Orchard in Hamad International Airport

Toward a Healthy B4T Economy

Small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) account for about 99% of firms and 70% of all jobs, as well as more than 50% of GDP[1]. In the United States specifically, SMEs create 67% of net new jobs and drive innovation while keeping the economy competitive. SMEs also account for nearly 50% of economic activity in the US[2]. Meanwhile, the top 1% of companies in the US makes up 90% of the assets within the US economy[3], and are often the customers of the SMEs. Additionally, large corporations are able to scale operations to national and multi-national levels that attract talent and add weight to an economy.

Any healthy economy has a diverse mixture of SMEs, which provide the lion’s share of jobs and innovation, as well as large companies that provide scale, capital for megaprojects, and business for SMEs. In the same way, a healthy B4T economy will consist of an appropriate mixture of small, medium, and large businesses. As we continue to upgrade, we will expect to see half or more of total employees in a healthy B4T economy coming from small businesses. Most small businesses will be solo entrepreneurs (have no employees), but 10-20% of small businesses will have between 1-19 employees. About 2% of companies in the US have between 20-499 employees,[4] and we would expect to see something similar in the B4T space.

Our Ecosystem Now

As a movement, I see the OPEN Network mostly in B4T 2.0, while some within our ranks are still in 1.0 and others have moved into 3.0. We have a long way to go in terms of integrating our lives, seeing work, worship, and service not as three distinct concepts, but seamlessly honoring God with our whole lives. When we have our theology down correctly, we will be able to upgrade our practice. We will then make disciples that are correctly reproducing this theology and practice in their disciples and we will see healthy churches being birthed among least-reached peoples.

When the people of God see the Kingdom of God as their primary citizenship, they will spend more time and energy building on or co-working with Jesus in that Kingdom than their own little fiefdoms, and we will see greater human flourishing all over the world.

B4T 4.0

One final note that hopefully inspires us toward the future: B4T 4.0 will mark an end of this terminology as the B4T movement merges into the greater Kingdom movement. This will occur when the entire global church realizes their Kingdom purpose and lives it out together. Terms such as BAM and B4T will no longer be necessary because all followers of Jesus everywhere will use their gifts and skills to build on the foundation that has been given to us as co-workers of Jesus for all eternity, bringing about a thriving civilization of human flourishing (as well as animals and plants) in the presence of God from thenceforth and forevermore.

All business will be done in a perfect world with no greed, no suffering, no pain, no death, and no tears. His glory will reign forever and ever and of His government there will be no end.

If this sounds like Eternity, that’s because it is.

[1] Helping small and medium-size enterprises thrive | McKinsey

[2] Small Businesses Generate 44 Percent of U.S. Economic Activity – SBA’s Office of Advocacy

[3] Rising Corporate Concentration Continues a 100-Year Trend | Chicago Booth Review

[4] Small Business Statistics Of 2023 – Forbes Advisor

Greg is the President of OPEN USA. He used his education to work as a tentmaker in the Middle East for 8.5 years seeking to plant a church amongst a least-reached people group. Currently back in the USA with his wife and children, they aim to return to finish what the LORD used them to start.

To learn more about B4T, read Business for Transformation by Patrick Lai.

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