by Lauren Rahman, VP of Public Relations for IWU Students for BAM 

Students, BAM professionals and organizational representatives spent three days networking and learning together during meals, workshops and speaking events held in the Barnes Student Center.

This past week, a group of Indiana Wesleyan University students hosted a conference to highlight one way that missions work is changing, and to help propel the movement forward.

Business as Mission (BAM) is a relatively new movement within the mission field, combining business and ministry goals to positively transform the world for God’s kingdom through successful for-profit business endeavors.

This method results in financial sustainability and affords access to countries otherwise closed to ministry. It also provides evangelism, discipleship, church planting, economic development and empowerment for the people it touches in cross-cultural settings both domestically and abroad.

“It’s important for students in all majors to understand that their skills can be used by God regardless of what career they are pursuing. You don’t have to go into full-time ministry to make a big impact for the kingdom,” says Josh Vire, VP of Networking for IWU Students for BAM.

In 2010, students launched a group under the IWU Division of Business called IWU Students for BAM. This group spent the past year planning and organizing the first-ever student-led and student-focused BAM conference, which took place February 2-4 at Indiana Wesleyan University’s residential campus in Marion.

“Students want to know more about how their skills and passions can be used for the Lord,” says Jacob Wheeler, president of IWU Students for BAM. “This is one way that we could educate and equip students, while helping them network with other students and BAM practitioners.”

The conference hosted almost 100 attendees from as far away as California, Texas, Florida and Louisiana. Students, BAM professionals and organizational representatives spent three days networking and learning together during meals, workshops and speaking events held in the Barnes Student Center.

Keynote speakers for the event included Dr. Neal Johnson, author of Business As Mission: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice, and Bill Moore, owner and CEO of PacMoore Products.

Workshop sessions were hosted by BAM professionals who have worked in a variety of cross-cultural settings.

During the conference’s closing session on Saturday morning, Dr. Johnson announced the establishment of the ISBM, International Society for Business as Mission. This new organization is being launched in an effort between students at Hope International University in Southern California where Dr. Johnson is Professor of Business and Management, and students at universities across the US, including Indiana Wesleyan University.

Jacob Wheeler will initially serve as President of the Board for the organization. Students at the conference were invited to join ISBM as they establish BAM groups on their campuses and pursue the Lord’s calling on their life and vocation.

The Next Steps Conference received widespread attention and coverage from organizations such as Regent University’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), YWAM’s BAM initiative and the Acton Institute, which provided free books for all attendees and sent Chris Robertson, Program Outreach Coordinator, who blogged about the conference.

“I hope that the conference and whatever else myself and the leadership have done will encourage others to do something even better,” shares Wheeler. “We have not set a bar but rather a stepping stone.”

“My prayer is that the connections made at the conference will have kingdom impact and we will see the fruits from those connections made years from now.”

About the conference, David Tori, VP of Marketing for IWU Students for BAM, says, “I feel honored to have held the first student-led conference and blessed to have the opportunity to connect people’s passions with the Lord’s redemptive plan for the world.”