The Theology of Business Institute (TBI), founded in 2015, is dedicated to the exploration and application of God’s will for business.
TBI produces teaching and tools to equip marketplace Christians to disciple their co-workers, companies, industries, and communities through setting Christ-centered, Bible-based standards in business. As part of the broader Marketplace Christianity Movement, their vision is to participate in equipping every marketplace Christian with a Christ-centered, Bible-based framework for the work they do in the business world.
TBI’s founder, Darren Shearer, realized the need for teaching the biblical-theological foundations for business after noticing a lack of teaching about business theology in most Christian business schools and theology schools.
TBI’s podcast, the Theology of Business Podcast and Blog, is a primary platform through which its content is delivered. The podcast averages 1,300+ downloads per episode, and the blog receives 25,000 pageviews per year. Guests on the show primarily consist of Christian business executives and thought leaders in the relatively new academic field of business theology. www.TheologyofBusiness.com/podcast
TBI’s flagship course, the Biblical Standards for Businesses Course, has been completed by hundreds of students from around the world. The course has been licensed to several college, universities, marketplace ministries, and peer advisory groups. www.TheologyofBusiness.com/course In this course, students learn the following:
- How to articulate, explain, and apply the biblical foundations for the major disciplines of business: profitability and profit management, innovation, competition, value-making, marketing, sales, customer care, management, quality control, human resources management, accounting and accountability, business law, and risk management
- Why leading your company and industry in accordance with biblical standards is part of the marketplace Christian’s calling to “make disciples of all nations”
- The current state of the “Marketplace Christianity Movement” and how to engage other Christians in this movement
Here are a few testimonials from students who have completed the Biblical Standards for Businesses course:
“Thank you so much for the wonderful teaching! As I am so hungry for the material, I dove into all the teaching and finished all in a few days. I will go back to study again and again.” -Elaine Zhou (Singapore)
“I was looking for a course that would teach how to apply the Bible to each aspect of business … and this course was exactly that.” -Walt Taylor (Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
“This course was life-changing for me. I had a plan for my business … but midway through the course, everything changed.” -Sue Cavanagh (Alberta, Canada)
“I thoroughly enjoyed the course gaining new insight to operating business. I think every Kingdom Entrepreneur should take this course.” -Patricia Simes (Gary, Indiana, USA)
To help marketplace Christians identify their unique ministry roles in the business world, TBI has developed the Spiritual Gifts in the Marketplace Assessment. The assessment has been completed over 500 times and is presented to local churches as an alternative to the traditional spiritual gifts assessment that is aimed primarily at identifying volunteer opportunities on Sunday morning rather than mobilizing Christians for ministry in their workplaces throughout the week.
To help equip business leaders to run their companies, TBI has developed the Christ-Centered Company Assessment as a tool to help Christian business leaders/owners align their company’s business practices with biblical principles. TBI administers the assessment to companies on a consulting basis.
Rosedale College in Ohio is using the Christ-Centered Company Assessment as a tool to help their local business community as well as to provide mentorship to their current students. Local Christian business owners take the assessment with their executive teams; then, the Rosedale College students interview those business owners/CEOs to learn best practices on how to run a business according to Christian principles.
Darren and TBI have produced two books for marketplace Christians: The Marketplace Christian: A Practical Guide to Using Your Spiritual Gifts in Business and Marketing Like Jesus: 25 Strategies to Change the World. Both books have been translated into Chinese and are being distributed among marketplace Christians in China.
Through their partnership with High Bridge Books & Media, TBI has also facilitated book publishing for the following marketplace-oriented books:
- Christianity in Business: Applying Biblical Values in the Marketplace (a product of Houston Baptist University’s Center for Christianity in Business, Edited by Dr. Ernest P. Liang)
- Bigger Than Business: Real-World Stories of Business Leaders Living Their Purpose (by Jeff Holler)
- Clarify: 12 Principles to Illuminate Your Calling to the Marketplace (by Deneen Troupe-Buitrago)
- Our Unfair Advantage: Unleashing the Power of the Holy Spirit in Your Business (by Dr. Jim Harris)
- Relactional Leadership: When Relationships Collide with Transactions (by Ford Taylor)
- The Christian Leader’s Worldview: A Framework for Successful Leadership and Living (by Michael LaPierre)
- The Goldmine: The Goldmine: Claiming the Workplace for Christ (by Michael LaPierre)
- Ambition: Leading with Gratitude (by Seth Buechley)
- Trading Up: Moving From Success to Significance on Wall Street (by Jeff Thomas)
- iWork4Him (A Collaborative Effort by iWork4Him)
- sheWorks4Him: A Field Manual For Everyday Christian Working Women (A Collaborative Effort by iWork4Him)
iRetire4Him: A Field Manual For Everyday “Retired” Believers (by Jim & Martha Brangenberg and Ted Hains, iWork4Him)
Darren Shearer is the founder and director of the Theology of Business Institute, a global think tank dedicated to the exploration and application of God’s will for business. He has authored three books, including Marketing Like Jesus: 25 Strategies to Change the World and The Marketplace Christian: A Practical Guide to Using Your Spiritual Gifts in Business.
Darren is also the founder and CEO of High Bridge Media, a multimedia agency specializing in publishing and promoting the world-changing ideas of inspiring thought leaders. Its imprint, High Bridge Books, has published 100+ books since 2013.
A former Captain in the United States Air Force, Darren earned the United States Air Force Commendation Medal for his meritorious service in Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He holds a M.A. in Practical Theology from Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA), an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Management from Pace University (New York, NY), and a B.A. in English from Charleston Southern University (Charleston, SC).
Darren and his wife, Marie, reside in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina with their three young boys.
To connect with Darren or to contact him about speaking at an upcoming event, you may contact him via the following:
- E-mail: Darren@HighBridgeBooks.com
- Web: www.TheologyofBusiness.com/contact
- LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/darren-shearer-44232635
- Twitter: @DarrenShearer
- Facebook: www.Facebook.com/BusinessTheology
Darren’s interview about “Using Spiritual Gifts in Business” on TBN Salsa’s AlegriaTV
How I Went from Seminary to Running a Business (Darren’s Story)
When I once shared with a businessman that I was in seminary, studying theology in preparation for going into business, he responded without hesitation, “Does that mean you’re planning to become a televangelist?”
My classmates in seminary were equally as baffled as to how theological training is relevant to the marketplace.
I want to share with you how and why I went from seminary to business school and owning my own company? It might surprise you to know that this career path has been mostly deliberate rather than accidental.
Taking the boundaries off of ministry
As the son of a pastor and a music minister, I grew up in church in Columbia, South Carolina, thinking that “ministry” was something that happened inside the four walls of a church building.
Following the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11/01, I joined the U.S. Air Force as an officer to serve my country. However, I didn’t view it as a context in which to serve God…at least, initially.
To be sure that I was doing “ministry work” while I served in the Air Force, I served in as many church ministry positions as time permitted. I became a part-time youth pastor in a local church. I led a teams of young adults on evangelistic street outreaches in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana. I led the worship music for a church service at a Spanish-speaking church. I served as a parking lot attendant at my church on Sunday morning. I did everything I could to reassure myself that I was “doing stuff for God.”
As I was leaving Barksdale Air Force Base (Bossier City, Louisiana) after work one day, heading to serve at my local church, God spoke to me. He said, “Your ministry is on this Air Force base.” In that moment, exiting through the gate of my workplace, God took the limits off of my definition of “ministry.”
From that point on, I began to witness God revealing himself to my brothers- and sisters-in-arms in our workplace. They were asking questions about the Christian faith. They were getting saved. They were growing as disciples of Jesus.
I began to realize that the workplace is where disciples are made. That’s where we spend our time, and that’s where lifestyles are modeled and observed.
The most important thing I learned in seminary
Following the Air Force, God opened the door for me to attend seminary for theological training at Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA). Unlike 99% of my classmates, I didn’t enter seminary with the goal of becoming a seminary professor, pastor, or the leader of a faith-based nonprofit. I viewed seminary as a launchpad for ministry in the marketplace. I approached seminary with the understanding that my ministry would be primarily in the marketplace… not inside a religious institution.
Although 85% of most pastors’ congregations work in for-profit companies, there weren’t any classes about the “Theology of Business” in my seminary. There weren’t any classes about how to help the members of your congregation to use their spiritual gifts in their workplace. After all, pastors usually do not have backgrounds in business, so how could they understand the daily experience of a business professional well enough to disciple them effectively in a marketplace context?
Although I was able to focus my research papers in seminary on topics related to Christianity in the marketplace, I had hoped that my seminary courses would have provided more curriculum that would help me to understand God’s redeeming plan for the marketplace.
Although my seminary experience ultimately fell short in this respect, I did have an incredibly enriching learning experience as I gained a broader understanding of who God is and what He has done through the centuries… I believe that my primary purpose for attending seminary was to make one important discovery.
Through a course titled “Biblical Models of Discipleship,” God revealed to me that my primary responsibility as a Christian is to make disciples of Jesus. This is the Great Commission: “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). It’s not necessarily about getting people inside churches. It’s not about making money for noble purposes. Yes, those things are part of it. Ultimately, it’s about making disciples, showing people what Jesus looks like. It’s about knowing Him and making Him known through every aspect of our lives.
Starting a business to make disciples
Not only did God call me to work in the marketplace, he called me to start businesses. As I learned in seminary, the entire purpose for these businesses would be to make disciples of Jesus.
When I was working for other employers, I was limited in the way I could express my spiritual gifts and calling. I had to do what my boss wanted me to do. Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, has given me the freedom to do exactly what God has called me to do… and in the way He has gifted me to do it.
Following seminary, I went to business school at Pace University (New York, NY) where I became immersed in today’s entrepreneurship culture. At first, I thought the only respectable businesses one could start were tech companies that required millions in venture capital funding (i.e. Facebook, Google, etc.). For this reason, most of my efforts to start my company were focused on pleasing investors rather than on pleasing God by doing what He had called and gifted me to do. I had been trying to start a business that was focused more on what seemed to be popular, profitable, and “disruptive” rather than on how God had gifted me.
During that season in business school, I began to take a hard look at who God had created me to be. To figure out which business God wanted me to start first, I started to ask soul-searching questions like,
- What type of work gets me excited?
- What type of work am I good at?
- As I look back over my life, what type of work has God been preparing me to do?
My responses to these soul-searching questions led me to start a publishing company. I had been an English major in college, taught academic writing to graduate students, edited numerous doctoral dissertations, and had written and published my own book. In addition, I enjoy marketing and had served as the marketing director for a nonprofit.
Starting a publishing company enabled me to launch a company immediately, without investors or lenders. I got married in 2012, so I couldn’t wait around for investors any longer. I had to begin something immediately. My company cost very little to get started, and I was able to build it while working a full-time job in marketing. I started the company in 2013 with $100, and it has already provided enough income for me to work from home and allow my wife to be a full-time mom for our baby son.
The name of my publishing company, High Bridge Books, was inspired by the “High Bridge,” which connected my former neighborhood in Manhattan to the Bronx. Still the oldest bridge in New York City, it was built in 1848 as an aqueduct to provide water to the citizens of Manhattan.
As the High Bridge provided life-sustaining water to the masses, High Bridge Books helps authors to provide life-changing books to the world. Through the more than 70 books that our authors have published since 2013, we have helped to make disciples of thousands of people.
You don’t have to create “Christian” products to make disciples through your business. I realize that the main way I make disciples through my business is through how I reflect the character of Jesus through the service I provide for my clients.
This company has also provided the financial means for me to be able to provide the Theology of Business podcast and blog for Christian business leaders like you. My goal is to help marketplace leaders to partner with God in their businesses to make an impact for Christ in society and in eternity. One of the greatest joys of my life is to create this podcast for you each week and have life-changing conversations with the guests that I have on this show.