Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

2009 Seminars

Business as Ministry: Exploring the Issues, Trends and Challenges
July 13 - 24, 2009

Directed by
Steven Rundle , C. Neal Johnson


Seminar Description

The last fifteen years has seen an explosion of interest in the role of faith in business, and specifically in how business can be both (1) a ministry in itself, and (2) an essential partner for other Christian ministries. By one estimate there are now at least 1,200 organizations that promote, in various ways, the integration of faith and work, not to mention dozens of events held annually around the world that encourage businesspeople to “bring their faith to work.” Yet, while many professionals are embracing the idea of business as a calling and a ministry, little scholarship has been produced that addresses the many legal, managerial, missiological and ethical questions related to the integration of faith and business. Furthermore, many churches and academic institutions continue to unwittingly reinforce the view that the most praiseworthy Christian service entails working directly for the church or other charitable organizations.

The purpose of this seminar is to address those problems by exploring the opportunities and challenges related to “bringing one’s faith to work” and stimulating new ideas for research, teaching and preaching. Scholars from the fields of theology, business or missions, as well as pastors, are encouraged to apply. It is anticipated that while many participants will have done some studying, teaching and/or preaching on this topic, there will be others who are relatively new to this subject who can bring fresh thinking and new analytical skills. In either case, care will be taken to ensure that all participants have proven track records as scholars or have influential roles within academia and/or the church. The two-week program will consist of morning sessions, Monday through Friday, and some afternoon sessions. There will be three guest speakers, and one field trip to a faith-based business. As an end-product, participants will be expected to begin writing, preaching and/or presenting papers to wider audiences within their respective disciplines. One possible venue for publication is a collection of essays on Business as Ministry being edited by the co-directors.

About the Directors

Dr. Steve Rundle is associate professor of economics at Biola University. He received his B.A. in economics from California State University, Northridge, and his Ph.D. in economics from Claremont Graduate University. His teaching and research interests are focused on the intersection between international economics and world mission. He has authored or coauthored many journal articles and book chapters on this subject, as well as two books – Great Commission Companies: The Emerging Role of Business in Missions (Intervarsity Press, 2003) and Economic Justice in a Flat World: Christian Perspectives on Globalization (Paternoster Press, in press) Dr. Rundle also assists, consults or has co-founded several organizations that aim to see Christian-owned businesses prosper in less-developed countries.

Dr. Neal Johnson is settling into his office and beginning the exciting task of launching Bakke Graduate University’s Business School with two approved and accredited business degrees – a values based MBA and the Master’s in Social and Civic Entrepreneurship (MASCE). With a career extending from academics, to business, to law, to theology and a 3-year mission assignment in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Dr. Johnson brings a wealth of experience to this new enterprise, as well as the following degrees: PhD (Fuller Seminary – focused on faith-based business management practices); JD (University of New Mexico – focused on international development), MPA – Public Administration (Univ of Oklahoma), graduate banking degree (SMU) and BA in Political Science – International Studies (University of Colorado). He is also a graduate of the American Bankers Association’s School of International Banking.

Drs. Rundle and Jonhson led this seminar in 2007 and it is back by popular demand.

About the Speakers


Professor James Nichols is the Director of the Business and Technology Program at Grace University in Omaha, NE. He has taught at Grace for 6 years and has over thirty years of business experience including domestic and international marketing and sales, small business ownership and corporate planning. Prior to coming to Grace, Professor Nichols spent twelve years as an entrepreneur. He teaches a wide range of business courses and has been actively involved in Business as Mission at Grace University, his church and his denomination. He is currently working on his dissertation in the area of strategic decision making and religious salience.


David Miller serves as the Director of the Princeton University Faith & Work Initiative. His academic appointment is Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer. Prior to this, he was at Yale University for five years, where he served as the Executive Director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture, and taught at both Yale School of Management and Divinity School. David’s signature course is, “Business Ethics: Succeeding without Selling Your Soul.” David brings an unusual “bilingual” perspective to the academic world, having spent 16 years in senior executive positions in international business and finance.

Prior to academia, David lived and worked in London, England for eight years, where he was a partner in a private equity firm that specialized in international investment management, corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions. Before that he was a senior executive and director of the securities services and global custody division of HSBC Group, having held the same position at Midland Bank plc before its acquisition by HSBC. He moved to London as the managing director of the European operations of State Street Bank and Trust, a leading US securities services bank. He started his management career in the U.S., working for IBM for eight years in a variety of sales and marketing management positions. David also speaks German, having lived and worked in Germany. He is a graduate of Bucknell University.

After his corporate experience, he entered academia, receiving his M.Div. and a Ph.D. in ethics from Princeton Theological Seminary. While doing his doctoral work in ethics, David began working with CEOs and senior executives in his capacity as president and co-founder of the Avodah Institute. Through Avodah, David still conducts corporate ethics and advisory services, leadership consulting, speaking, and ministerial work.

In addition to his research, writing, and teaching, David serves as an advisor to several corporate CEOs and senior executives on questions pertaining to ethics, values, culture, and the role of faith at work. He is a frequent speaker at gatherings of business leaders, corporate events, and academic conferences. His views are often cited in the media, including in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, radio, and the major television networks.

David’s new book, God at Work: The History and Promise of the Faith at Work Movement (Oxford University Press, 2007), challenges business academics and executives, as well as theologians and clergy to think differently about faith, ethics, and work.