Christians in the workforce are teaming up Feb. 2-4 to kick off the first-ever Next Steps Conference. The three-day event will take place in the Barnes Student Center, sponsored by the Indiana Wesleyan University student group Business as Mission.
The BAM conference will host 14 speakers with presentations by students and business professionals. The focus topic for the weekend will be the practical integration of faith and business in the marketplace.
Headline speakers include Dr. Patrick Lai, Dr. Neal Johnson and Bill Moore, businessmen recognized as the “thought leaders behind the BAM movement” by Dr. Keith Starcher, professor of business at IWU.
“These guys have spoken at conferences around the world, and they’re coming to Marion for this conference,” said Starcher.
Dr. Lai, Dr. Johnson and Moore will lead three 20-minute, small-group sessions with students, in addition to large-group presentations.
The conference will also be hosting a number of workshops with topics ranging from business development in central Asia to the strategies of BAM groups at Wheaton College and Taylor University.
One of the representatives from Wheaton College in Illinois is Yacht Tedla. He will be speaking on behalf of his school’s student group, Growers First, about the BAM movement on his campus.
“We will cover some of the things [that] we have been able to accomplish on campus along with some our goals and visions for the future of BAM at Wheaton,” said Tedla. “We hope to share some of the methods that have worked to reach the student body.”
Business vendors will also be present, advertising internship opportunities to students interested in networking.
“I am really looking forward to the networking aspect of the conference,” said Tedla. “I think it’s going to be really exciting to connect with other peers and professionals who are passionate about the idea of Business as Mission.”
Students from Texas and California will join representatives from Midwestern schools like Anderson University, Taylor University and Huntington University at the conference.
“I’m most looking forward to connecting with other college students from around the nation who have a passion for BAM,” said David Tori, vice president of BAM marketing at IWU. “I’m also really excited to hear the different speakers and their experiences in different cultures.”
Students at IWU are invited to attend the workshops for a discounted fee of $5 per day. Online registration is available until Feb. 1, but payment is welcome at the door.
IWU’s BAM founder and president, Jacob Wheeler, sees this conference as an opportunity to both inform and inspire the diverse group of students to embrace the BAM mission in their own communities.
“We want to show students how to integrate their vocational skills with their faith. I’ve always seen missionaries in a great light and want to inspire students to become missionaries in their own disciplines,” said Wheeler.
Membership in BAM is not exclusive to business majors, who make up only half of the IWU group. Other member disciplines include nursing and TESOL.
Wheeler introduced BAM at IWU his sophomore year. As a senior, he hopes to use the conference to gain publicity for the group and inspire other schools to start their own BAM student groups.
“I hope that people gain a better sense of what [BAM] is. I would be happy if just one person would be affected,” said Wheeler, “and that their life would be changed when they see that they can make a change in the workplace.”
For a detailed schedule of the conference and registration information, visit the event website at www.indwes.edu/BAMconference or check out the blog at nextstepsconference.wordpress.com.