An artist struggling to articulate her business goals. A team of doctors trying to make their inner-city medical clinic sustainable. A service-oriented theater company seeking investors.
These were all organizations that have been assisted by the Redeemer Entrepreneurship Initiative, an offshoot of Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s Center for Faith and Work in New York City.
“God has given us so much talent in this community,” said Calvin Chin, director of the Entrepreneurship Initiative. “And we want to use that talent to honor Him.”
Business as Ministry?
Entrepreneurship can be one way to redeem the brokenness of this world, says Chin. “You can contribute to the peace and prosperity of the city through your work,” he says. “If you’re doing something excellently 60 to 90 hours a week, how can God notbe involved?”
The Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI) was created in 2005 to help Redeemer members and others transform culture through business. “It’s for the common good that we create products and services that contribute to culture,” said Katherine Leary, executive director of the Redeemer Center for Faith and Work, and a former high-tech management executive in California. “We’re trying to exemplify Christian values by every aspect of business—how we construct a company, how we run meetings, how we treat employees, how we give opportunity to creativity and innovation.”
The Entrepreneurship Initiative is comprised of four elements: an annual forum for those interested in business, a monthly fellowship gathering for prayer and support, an annual business plan competition, and the EI Network—which connects church members with others who have needed skills, resources, and expertise.
A big focus of the Entrepreneurship Initiative is helping new ventures get off the ground.
“When you create an organization, you can control the impact the company has from the beginning—particularly the gospel impact,” says Chin. “You can control the vision and the culture of an organization, the principles of organizational structure and the dynamics.”
But, as in church planting, not all new ventures succeed. “There’s about a 50 percent success rate,” says Leary. “And it takes about five years before you can assess the success of the business.”
But whether or not these new business owners’ plans prevail, there’s a long-term benefit, says Leary. “We’re building into them theology and spiritual awareness and practical skills and relationships—even if this venture doesn’t succeed, it will benefit them in the future.”
An additional benefit is that many outside the process get a glimpse of the gospel as well.
“With our most recent business plan contest winner, there’s now a whole community of business people watching on and supporting her,” said Leary. “They’ve been blown away that this church cares what’s she’s doing and is nurturing her venture.”
To learn more about the Redeemer Entrepreneurship Initiative, visit www.faithandwork.org/ei.