Building a Strong Professional Identity
    About Lesson

    Terminology Clarification

    When working in restricted access nations, the question is often tossed around between missionaries, “What’s your platform?” or “What’s your cover?” Let’s delve into these two terms to clarify meaning and then we would like to suggest some new terminology. 

    When you hear the term platform, understand that the missionary is referring to their professional identity that allows them to live, work, proclaim, makes disciples and plant churches in a restricted access nation. For some, the term platform can have a negative connotation because it implies a wooden stage that actors stand on. Others see a platform as an elevated place that people proclaim from. While we don’t have a problem with using the word platform, it’s important to be aware that it can have both positive and negative connotations.

    The other term cover can pass on an idea that we are hiding something. We don’t want to hide the fact that we are on-fire, lovers of Jesus that also have a strong professional identity. We want to avoid using this terminology or even philosophy of ministry. 

    We would like to encourage our missionaries to use the term professional identity instead of platform or cover. A professional identity is how the people of the host nation view you. (Example: my professional identity in Saudi Arabia is that I work for the Ernst and Young Accounting Firm.) 

    Missionary in Function

    What about the word missionary? While we don’t want do be afraid of this word, we do recognize that it comes with a lot of baggage in many cultures around the world. Some organizations have stopped using the term all together and prefer the term “worker”, “messenger” or “B4Ter”. After much debate, we have decided that our missionaries can call themselves whatever they want as long as they are missionary in function, in other words, they are performing the tasks of a missionary without the obligation of using the title.

    While we want all of our workers (missionaries) to be missionary in function individually, of even more importance is for all of our teams to be missionary in function. We recognize that as individuals we are all gifted in different ways and there is not one perfect mold for what a worker (missionary) should look like. However, when we create teams for church planting, we want those teams to have a variety of individuals with different gifts so that the team can carry out the primary function of missions which is church planting.

    An Example of a Team that is Missionary In Function: Click and listen to the mp3 below.

    A few more terms you may hear…

    • Job-taker: This is a person who takes a job in the target nation and it allows them to work in the marketplace with the intent of evangelizing and church planting. (English teacher, university professor, accountant, airline pilot, doctor and so on.)
    • Job-faker: Someone who starts a fake business to give them residency in a target nation. They don’t actually do the business or they might give limited energy to keeping it alive. They see the business as a necessary evil. They might describe their business as a cover for their primary purpose of being a missionary in their country. *BAM 360 does not encourage or support job-faking.
    • Job-maker: This person starts a business that is strategically placed in an unreached area and is designed to create jobs and bless the community in Jesus’ name. (They also expect to make a financial profit.)
    • B4T: Stands for Business for Transformation, and would also fall under the category of job-maker. B4T has a specific vision and strategy for seeing the Kingdom of God come through businesses.
    • Tent-maker: This term was originally the term used for a missionary who, like the apostle Paul, worked to provide his own income. This word has now been replaced by the term BAM. Sometimes tent-making is used as a synonym for job-taking.
    • Marketplace ministry: This is a business that is run using Christian values and seeks to be a conduit for blessing the local community and the world. If the marketplace ministry is done cross-culturally then it would fall under the category of BAM or Business as Mission.
    Scroll to Top