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Business, Bible & Ministry partnership offered unique experience at 2021 BAM323

Kim Chaudoin  | 

Lee Camp and Rob Touchstone

Lee Camp, left, and Rob Touchstone have teamed up to inspire leaders to use their business as mission.

When Rob Touchstone views the world around him, he sees unlimited possibilities for serving others. 

He particularly sees the potential for the intersection of business, faith and culture to have a life-changing impact on communities. 

As director of the Lipscomb College of Business’s Center for Business As Mission, Touchstone is inspiring both budding entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals to unite their faith with their careers. With this week’s third annual BAM323 conference, Touchstone has forged a partnership with the College of Bible & Ministry to offer conference attendees and students unique opportunities to learn from business leaders who are successfully integrating faith into their professions and making an impact on those around them. 

This year’s conference features emcee Mignon Francois, founder and CEO of the Cupcake Collection and Lipscomb graduate student. Featured speakers include Miles Adcox, Katherine Alsdorf, Jay Jakub, LaDonna Boyd, Jon Acuff, Patrick Leddin, Winston Justice, JoAnn Flett and Derrick Morgan, as well as a pitch competition in collaboration with Corner to Corner, a “shark-tank” style event that will feature six entrepreneurs, judges and prize capital. 

Touchstone says he is especially excited to partner with College of Bible & Ministry professor of theology and ethics, Lee Camp, to offer several unique events that are new to this year’s lineup. Camp, founder of Tokens, a radio-style variety show that blends music, humor and issues of social justice, and host of the Tokens podcast, is bringing both to BAM323 this year. 

Lee Camp hosting a Tokens Show

Lee Camp is the founder and host of Tokens.

Attendees will have an opportunity to be a part of the live studio audience as Camp interviews BAM keynote speaker Jay Jakub, chief advocacy officer for the Economics of Mutuality Movement and author of Completing Capitalism: Heal Business to Heal the World. This is a unique opportunity for students and attendees to get a behind-the-scenes look at the production of this podcast and to hear from an industry leader. In a special edition of Tokens entitled Capitalism. Conscience. Converted. Camp will examine the theme of capitalism through interviews with Will Acuff and Katherine Alsdorf and musical guest Jars of Clay among others. 

“Our tagline for the podcast is ‘public theology, human flourishing, the good life.’ I always hope that listeners can find both education and practical challenges that might contribute to living life well — in beauty, truth, and goodness — and living life well not only individually and communally. We are now hearing from people weekly listening around the country, and it's a joy to hear the ways the material is moving and challenging folks,” says Camp. “I’m also really excited about getting to spend time with Jay Jakub; the work he and the folks are doing with the Economics of Mutuality provides greatly needed antidotes to some of the most grave problems of the contemporary world. That sounds dramatic; but I think it's true.” 

We’re all leaders. Leadership isn’t a position, it is a choice. We choose to step up and lead. We choose to lead ourselves, and then we lead others. —  Patrick Leddin, founder of The Leddin Group and author, from the 2021 BAM323 Conference

Touchstone believes the idea of Business As Mission aligns with the original vision of the founders of Lipscomb, “which was to train people to live out their faith in the marketplace, in their jobs and in their vocations,” he says. “I think that's one of the best ways to address things in the world that are broken by applying the sustainable discipline of business to addressing problems.”

“Business offers so many opportunities to steward your influence for the kingdom of God … the way you treat customers and fellow employees … all such impactful moments. We want our students to do that with intentionality within their faith to see it as I would describe it as a kingdom endeavor,” he continues. “The term we use — Business As Mission or BAM — perfectly describes it because I think of it as the holy collision of marketplace and faith. It’s where these concepts collide. I am so excited about partnering with Dr. Camp and the College of Bible & Ministry as this is a perfect illustration of the intersection of business and faith. This adds a tremendous amount of value and expands what we are offering.”

Camp says being involved in the BAM323 conference is an opportunity to create awareness of the practical application of theology in an individual’s profession and in a business setting. 

“Just as the Raymond B. Jones College of Engineering has done such a stellar job exhibiting the way in which our faith can be put into practice in what the ancients called the mechanical arts, the College of Business is taking seriously questions around labor, land and capital — which are themselves the locus of much biblical reflection upon what it means to organize our communities in a way that takes seriously the gifts of God, and our covenant with God,” explains Camp.

Our biggest super power in leadership is self-awareness…. Our job is to pursue and slowly open our eyes to better understand who we are, so we can better influence those around us. —  Miles Adcox, CEO of Onsite, podcast host and business coach, from the 2021 BAM323 conference

“Exploring the intersection of faith and business is immensely important: precisely because our faith is holistic. We do not have a compartmentalizable faith, but an all-encompassing faith,” he continues. “So I'm delighted to be partnering with the COB in this venture, and proud of what Rob and his colleagues are doing in their teaching and activism, and in the Business as Mission conference.” 

In 2015 Lipscomb’s College of Business created a Center for Business as Mission to train the next generation of business leaders to develop a theological, social and practical framework for how to utilize the discipline of business to serve others and create impact. The Center for Business as Mission serves as a hub for the academic study of Business as Mission and for connecting students to local and global opportunities to engage and apply what is being learned in the classroom.

Touchstone says the college also desired to serve the community by extending the conversation outside the institution as a convener of knowledge, experience and resources. So, three years ago the BAM323 conference was launched to connect those who have been practicing BAM to those who have a deep desire to learn.

Picture inside The Well Coffeehouse

The Well Coffeehouse has several locations throughout Middle Tennessee.

Touchstone is himself an illustration of how business and faith can intersect in a powerful way. Although he is currently on faculty in the College of Business, he holds an undergraduate degree in Bible and a Master of Divinity from Lipscomb and has served as an adjunct professor in the College of Bible & Ministry. He also spent 16 years as a local youth minister. He also had the vision for and co-founded The Well Coffeehouse, which opened in July 2012, that serves as an example of how business and faith can impact communities literally around the world. 

“The idea for The Well Coffeehouse came to me while doing a class project in Earl Lavender’s class for my master’s degree,” Touchstone explained. “I wanted to create a space where we could love people toward the living water of Jesus and invite the community into something bigger than themselves.”

The Well Coffeehouse’s mission is to turn coffee into water. They do this by providing the funding for water wells to be drilled in countries such as Togo, Kenya and Malawi, Africa, as well as Haiti, to bring hope to countries that lack basic needs. Since its opening, The Well has donated more than $200,000 and impacted over 50 communities and 20,000 people with clean water. 

Ironically, Touchstone says it was an assignment to read William T. Cavanaugh’s Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire as a graduate student in Camp’s graduate ethics class in 2010 that turned him on to the notion of business as mission. This and Earl Lavender’s course sowed the seeds of theology that fueled a passion in Touchstone to do something with what he was learning. 

We should be the most realistic people out there. We should expect problems. We should be the people who can look at brokenness and understand it, because the Bible tells us it is there. —  Katherine Leary Alsdorf, founder of Global Faith & Work Initiative, from 2021 BAM323 Conference

“As Jesus and the Apostle Paul would say, we sow the seed, and God gives the increase. We can never tell how it will spring up. Just today I was having lunch with a new friend who's been practicing law and doing great work in service to justice in our community for many decades now. He called one of their new attorneys into the room, and she was one of my former students,” says Camp. “She started telling a story about some question I had raised in a class I had taught some years ago, a question she had carried with her in the intervening years. This is the beauty of teaching: you never know what might take root, and become the means of God bringing about some beautiful fruit. It's a privilege.” 

For Touchstone, BAM323 is a full circle moment of an idea that was sparked in a class and that professor now being part of the dream coming to fruition. 

Tickets are still available for Tokens, Thursday, Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m. in Lipscomb’s Collins Alumni Auditorium. Click here for ticket information. For information about the Tokens podcast or how to listen to the show on Nashville’s WPLN 90.3 FM on Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. CT, visit www.TokensShow.com.

Learn more about Lipscomb’s Center for Business As Mission.