In the entrepreneurial world, a sense of purpose is often an important factor in success. The World Economic Forum (WEF) shows that businesses with a strong sense of purpose inspire trust, and those with a solid and effective strategy of purpose tend to be richly rewarded. Additionally, the rise of for-profit business models has seen more and more companies support environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives through the expansion of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.
Higher education, especially seminaries, are actively increasing purpose-driven entrepreneurship courses to meet the current market conditions of their respective students and the future that awaits them after graduation. “Integrating business courses into theological education is a pragmatic response to a challenging reality,” said Yale Divinity School graduate Timothy Cahill.
Making a difference and taking business beyond mere personal gain is a growing trend that adds an ethical element to evolving business models. So it should come as no surprise that those individuals with strong beliefs also blend their entrepreneurial pursuits with faith-driven principles.
Many entrepreneurs, like Dave Ramsey, and organizations like Faith Driven Entrepreneur, have grown businesses that tend toward shared personal and professional goals. For these individuals, their efforts go beyond the transactional elements common to certain businesses and are therefore in greater demand.
These faith-based entrepreneurs are thinking globally, collaborating with a moral compass as their guide. Through common principles, a community is formed with business and faith as common goals.
Often hidden from view are the strengths of the international church, and they are part of the equation. The World Bank describes a faith-based organization (FBO) as an entity dedicated to religious identity, which includes a social or moral component. They are widespread and significant because, as the World Bank reports, 80% of the world’s population claims to be religious.
Alph Lukau is a noted Bible scholar, international speaker, televangelist, entrepreneur and author interested in expanding the connection between ministry and business endeavors. As Senior Pastor and Overseer of Hallelujah Ministries International (AMI), he shaped and developed his South African operation, which was launched in Johannesburg in February 2002, with hundreds of thousands of men and women involved in his ministry .
Lukau describes himself as a modern bridge between spirituality, religious scholarship, and business success. To date, his YouTube channel has over 350 million views and 1.4 million subscribers. To put that in perspective, the current population of the US is about 334 million, which is even less than the viewership of his channel.
“It’s never been easy, but I have a very strong belief in what I’m doing,” Lukau said.
Lukau’s ministry operates AMI TV, a 24-hour Christian television broadcasting channel. The station broadcasts in Africa and Europe and has a satellite office in Germany.
Additionally, the AL Foundation, a South African Christian charity founded by Lukau in 2011, was critical in finding a balance between being popular and giving back to the underprivileged. “The foundation allows me to give back and express my deep compassion and interest in the good of society. We work for the public good and for noble causes,” Lukaw said.
Like Lukau, faith-based entrepreneur Tiphanie Montgomery, founder of Kingdom Entrepreneur University, teaches entrepreneurs how to build an online business, with a focus on alleviating the financial fears of being a business owner. Montgomery has sponsored more than 3,000 students from around the world.
In 2016 Montgomery founded the Million Dollar Assembly. Each year, she hosts approximately 2,000 faith-based entrepreneurs over two days of dynamic speakers and education-based breakout sessions, teaching them to “impact millions while making millions.”
Seattle Pacific University has further strengthened the link between entrepreneurship and theological studies by offering a dual degree program for graduate students. The ability for students to graduate with an MBA and an integrated MA, or MA, marks a substantial shift in the role of education in graduates’ future career paths.
As more students and early-career professionals integrate personal belief systems into behavior and career choices, some in academia have examined the societal implications of belief-based approaches to business.
Dr. Michael Zigarelli, author and professor of leadership and strategy at Messiah University, completed research on 50 Christian-owned companies for his book Christian Owned Business: What Does It Look Like When a Follower of Jesus Runs a Business? Like Lukau, the author of a dozen books has also found an entrepreneurial community online, and his work has been viewed more than 2 million times in more than 130 countries.
“My research shows that many faith-based businesses are model workplaces and model corporate citizens, enhancing lives and communities, helping people reconcile with God, and contributing to the common good of society,” Zigarelli said.
In a post-Covid world, findings point to an increased application of spirituality to one’s life, with more attention turned to the intersection of personal and professional pursuits. As trends take hold, institutions of higher education often sow the seeds of change in seminaries and other programs that demonstrate substantive belief in social application.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), faith-based, faith-related or faith-inspired businesses contribute $437 billion annually to the US economy. According to the World Economic Forum, when combined with broader religious contributions, the United States captures $1.2 trillion in socioeconomic value globally each year, a figure that is expected to grow and reach $449.99 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of was 6.4%.
The role of faith in the design, development, and deployment of businesses has been debated for decades. Lukau, Montgomery and Zigarelli represent an international and diverse approach to faith-based businesses, indicating a clear and important subset of markets in the global economy.
The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.