Christianity and Entrepreneurship

David Lynch of Somnium Consulting and Trinity Cheltenham

David Lynch – Somnium Consulting and Trinity Cheltenham

An entrepreneur can be described as an individual who organises and operates a business or organisation, taking on financial risk to do so. This individual can be seen as an innovator of new ideas and/or business processes while possessing management skills and strong team building abilities

Chris Hyman, CEO of Serco Group of companies which provides various government services identifies four qualities of a leader. These qualities are passion, compassion, empathy and courage. For each of the qualities, Ryman attaches commitment, kindness, involvement and bravery respectively. These same qualities could easily fit the definition of a Christian.

Entrepreneurship should therefore be a positive force within the Church rather than a negative. Christians should not be afraid to compete and make money in the marketplace. Jesus tells a parable of a man gave his servants different amounts of talents before he travelled far away. On his return, the parable says, the man was impressed by the servant who had been left five talents and doubled the amount making him ruler over some cities. The one servant who chose to hide his talent in the ground and not invest it for profit was punished. His talent was taken away and given to the risk taker who had doubled his talents.

Christians need to be mindful of how the money is made and how that money is spent (our bank statements reveal our priorities). Business should be seen as a witness of God to the world. It must be understood that Christians are still on this earth rather than heaven because there is work to do. Businesses should therefore contribute to the work in God’s Kingdom helping people to ultimately come into a personal relationship with Jesus.

To achieve the Kingdom objectives of bringing people into a personal relationship with Jesus, Christian businesses should be attractive to both those inside and outside of the church. This attraction should be modelled around issues like; the motivation for going into business; the methods used to get into and in the operations of the business; how customers are handled; how employees are treated; attitude to resources and the treatment of oneself and family.

One way of looking at Christianity is as a “club” that focuses on the non-members. A Christian business must therefore be operated in a way that shows the love of Jesus to those who do not yet know him.

A Christian business should be as well run, as efficient, as innovative, as disciplined, as any other. It should be more than, not less than, other businesses.

There has to be an attitude to work as if the success of the business depends on the business owner but praying as it the same success depends on God. This means operating in God’s strength not your own, but not being hung up on the difference. One has to pray that the Holy Spirit fills you up giving you the wisdom, discernment and strength that you need to run your business, and then get on with the job to the best of your abilities trusting that He has enabled you.

A Christian Entrepreneur like any other will organise, operate and manage the organisation taking on (financial) risk in a controlled way. They bring innovation of ideas and processes as well as building strong teams with a foundation of honesty and trust while keeping God at the centre of all they do. These same skills are needed by the Church and Church leaders.

While it is recognised that Churches and business are not the same, many of the skills, competences and best practice overlap. A church needs to be more than, not less than a business.  Some businesses don’t care about their employees and customers in the way that a Church cares about its congregation and parishioners, but a good Christian run Business should.

Some say that loving and pastoring a congregation is nothing like managing employees and customers.  But if we look at New Testament love, it  encompasses; listening skills which in the business world can be viewed as having sympathy and respect; teaching as Jesus did, interpreted in business as coaching; disciplining or correcting; leading which in business involves mentoring and developing staff.  If the Bible teachings so seamlessly overlap with what is expected to be good management practice, the Church should surely benefit from the skills of entrepreneurs in it.

Some say that Churches don’t take risks like Entrepreneurs, but John Wimber used to say that FAITH is spelt R.I.S.K.  If you don’t take the risk of getting out of the boat, how can you walk on the water?! Entrepreneurs have the ability to take risks in a controlled way in the same manner the church exists on faith.

Christian business people should bring their skills to the church for efficient running of Ministries, day to day operations, project management, offer training and alternatives to the way things are done so Pastors can also learn from outside world experience. It is even possible to have a business person actually lead the church even in the presence of a pastor! Once the business person takes care of the operations of the church, the Pastor can be freed to do what they are really good at.

History in the UK has given us a model with one person leading the church and doing everything. In business we have an alternative model: a team of individuals with different skills but aligned vision, working together lead by an Entrepreneur, whose role is to deploy and manage that team and resources to get the best results.

David Lnych is the Managing Director of Somnium Consulting and the Director of Operations at Trinity Cheltenham Church. He presented this topic at the Kingdom Business Briefings: God’s Workplace, God in the Marketplace Conference

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