B4T Terms and Definitions


One of the challenges of hanging around cross-cultural workers is the lingo we use.  Here are some words you are likely to hear this weekend.

B4T (Business for Transformation) – businesses strategically placed in unreached areas designed to create jobs and bless the local community in Jesus’ name; generally through transformation, and specifically through evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.

BAM (Business as Mission)business as mission is a term being used in Christian circles to describe the integration of ministry goals and business goals to make an impact for God’s Kingdom.  As a strategy, BAM generally describes any for-profit business endeavour that seeks to reach people and communities for the glory of God and is not artificially supported by donor funds.  Justin Forman of businessasmissionnetwork.com explains BAM this way:

Business as Mission, has four core components. First, it involves the creation of a business controlled by Great Commission minded owners and senior management who seek to glorify God with every aspect of their business operation. This eliminates tentmaking which focuses on individual impact rather than the business impact. Second, it has profit (or at least sustainability) as a goal. This eliminates business “platforms” and other ministries and NGOs which cannot operate without donor funds. Third, it exists primarily to advance the gospel among less reached peoples of the world. This eliminates marketplace ministries which are typically not cross-cultural in emphasis. Fourth, it is socially responsible; it does not seek profit at any cost. Restricting our definition in this way is not to say that these excluded strategies are not desirable or effective.

Bi-vocational – someone who works 2 jobs, often one for pay and one as a volunteer worker or supported by donors – not a B4T worker.

Transformation – referring to impacting a community in 4 measurable ways: spiritually, economically, socially, and environmentally.

Missionary – someone who is paid or supported by churches and donors to serve God in another culture.

NGO – (Non-Governmental Organization) an organization that is not government sponsored, but is a non-profit charity.  Christian organizations have multiple NGOs which do a variety of services, including; providing medical services, education, job training or giving aid to the poor. Many micro-enterprise development projects are also NGOs.

Platform – often refers to business identity used by a worker/missionary as a means of legitimizing his/her presence and work among people in limited access contexts. In many cases these businesses are paper fronts or do not produce a profit.  The worker is heavily dependent on donor funds. 

10/40 Window – The 10/40 Window forms a band encompassing Saharan and Northern Africa, as well as almost all of Asia (West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and much of Southeast Asia). Roughly two-thirds of the world’s population lives in 10/40 Window. This Window is populated by people who are predominantly Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, Jewish or Atheist.

Tentmaker – a believer who intentionally takes a job with a company in another culture, is fully supported by that job, and strives to witness cross-culturally.

Worker / Cross-Cultural Worker – descriptive of someone called to serve Jesus outside of his/her home culture.