Fostering and Developing Entrepreneurs in Mission

There is currently a many voiced call to release the entrepreneurs in our culture… in the worlds of business and culture and, in some ways surprisingly there are voices in the Christian world too calling for innovation and innovators. Perhaps this is to do with the changing paradigm in which we live and breathe, perhaps it is the beginnings of not only a response to its challenges but a reflection of it’s natures. For many people and many years culture has been perceived as the bedrock on which we build, the things which sustain the status quo, the things which make us identifiable as British, Christian, European, etc. etc. In the Church Mission has been tacitly a tool of maintenance, a means to preserve the way we are or at least the way we perceive we are. Perhaps change is afoot? Mission not as a way of bracing the Church as it is, rather as engaging with the culture, seeing people not as products or numbers but as individual seedlings growing from the soil of their own history and context. Not a Church seeking to be relevant, but to be resonant. More and more voices are crying that instead of attractors we need innovators, instead of church planters we need entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage. – Niccolo Machiavelli

People who imagine the future, who look for possibilities not programmes.

Christendom is dying but a new and dynamic Christianity could arise from its ashes. – Stuart Murray

Inspired by Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom, particularly their book Funky Business (2001) along with other writers such as Tom Peters and Bill Bolton, I have begun to explore some principles for encouraging entrepreneurs.

1. Recognition
Bill Bolton has written extensively on how to identify the entrepreneur. In his Grove Booklet The Entrepreneur and The Church (2006) he creates the acronym FACETS;

Focus – delivery
Advantage – selection of opportunity
Creativity – seeing many opportunities
Ego – motivation and courage
– multiplying effectiveness
– finding a cause.

Bolton with Professor John Thompson developed this tool to help begin to identify and understand the entrepreneurs within a business/academic environment but has since begun to use it in a Church/Mission setting.

This is incredibly useful but I also think that most of us can spot an entrepreneur instinctively, the question then becomes how are they recognised and released? I am also sure that most of us can remember a situation or an incident where an entrepreneur has been dismissed as just “rocking the boat” or “being awkward”. One of the great challenges we have is are we really able to join Sir Francis Drake when he prayed;

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Journeying out requires the capacity to rise above the anxiety associated with encountering and embracing a potentially overwhelming, outside world. – Ann Morissy

Entrepreneurs are often the voices from the margins, liminal voices. Douglas Rushkoff in his book, Children of Chaos (updated as Playing the Future in 1999) calls us to think like new immigrants in a strange land, exiles one might say! He proposes that we “look to our children for signs of how to act and think. Natives of chaos, they have already adapted to its demands.” Often the voice of the entrepreneur is that of someone who “belongs” to neither culture, yet is passionate about both, who is native to the chaos…

Post-christendom… requires leaders who listen to the voices on the edge. This is where the apostle, the prophet and the poet are found. – Alan Roxburgh

The entrepreneurial voice is the voice of the poet and the prophet who more often than not feel constricted by institution and culture.

Another way of thinking about this poetic/prophetic voice is Poïesis, which Martin Heidegger describes as “he blooming of the blossom, the coming-out of a butterfly from a cocoon, the plummeting of a waterfall when the snow begins to melt”. The root of our word poetry, Poïesis means to create in a way that transforms and continues the world, to reconcile thought with matter and time.

The work of poetic imagination holds the potential of unleashing a community of power and action that will finally not be contained by any imperial restrictions and definitions of reality – Walter Brueggemann