MODEM was founded in 1993 as a successor to CORAT, the Christian Organisations Research and Advisory Trust. An exploratory meeting in 1991 was well attended, with attendees drawn from business schools, business, theological colleges and courses, and churches. There was a clear need for an organisation that could help churches and church organisations become better led and managed.

The term MODEM was originally suggested at a meeting in 1992 as an acronym for Managerial and Organisational Disciplines for the Enhancement of Ministry. It was later accepted in its own right, echoing the device for facilitating two-way communication. This two-way process soon led to another acronym looking in the opposite direction: Ministerial and Ontological Disciplines for the Enhancement of Management.

MODEM was formally launched at the Free Church Federal Council’s Council Chamber in June 1993. MODEM’s first chair was Alan Harpham; he was followed by Bryan Pettifer, Malcolm Grundy, and the current chair, Christopher Mayfield. MODEM is a body in association with Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), and registered as an ecumenical Christian charity.

Since its inception, MODEM has organised meetings and residential conferences, produced three books, commented on papers for church reorganisation, and established local groups. It ran a research project on the Hope of the Manager that was well received.

In April 2004, MODEM published the first issue of a new magazine, Spirit in Work, with a focus on business.

MODEM’s initial focus was on putting ideas from leadership, management and organisation into the churches. More recently, it has also looked at putting ideas from spirituality, theology and ministry into business.