Start a business – plant a church!

Mike Betts on Lowestoft Beach

A new strategy is coming into view over the horizon. I believe it will be bigger and more significant in its ongoing impact into the next 10-20 years than even those of us who are presently aware of its emergence can imagine. It revolves around the whole issue of business creation and mission, especially church planting.

In the last 10-15 years we have seen steady and methodical church planting amongst the churches we work with. Most of this has been at the same pace for this whole time. Praise God for each new plant that grows healthily and vitally but it is a restrictive pattern. We are at present seeing a multiplication of church planting opportunities especially across Europe. The number of these simply cannot be financed by traditional ways of offerings and ongoing support from local churches or apostolic funds; a new way has to be found.

Linking with Businesses
I believe this new way has much to do with the harnessing of business and church planting. Goff Hope, together with his team at Kings Church in Norwich, recently did a main session at one of our leaders equipping days. His session was strongly provoking of new ideas to explore in this harnessing.
King’s themselves have developed a successful business to help support mission from the use of their own building for conferencing etc. He touched on a number of models for how business creation can help resource church planting and other mission. These broadly included business as mission, business resourcing mission and business enabling mission. Without going into the fine detail of each of these models, I want to raise a flag on this whole issue to encourage you business entrepreneurs to consider whether your God given ability to create wealth could have a wider application than you perhaps thought to bring glory to Jesus.

Many believers gifted in business areas can sometimes feel outside the loop of ‘mission’. They may feel second class as they are ‘just running a business’. This is a concept which in itself denies the holistic nature of the kingdom of God. For everything should be viewed as a vehicle for Jesus glory to be displayed. If you are a gifted business person it is because God has enabled and called you. You are not less in ministry than a church leader!

To church planters …
I also want to encourage church planters to begin dialogue with business folk not just seeing them as asset managers but as friends who might get a heart for the same project and plant and feel relationally connected to what is going on. Many do not want to hold the strings of control in an unhelpful way, they just desire to be a blessing to those who are delivering the church plant and can be a blessing through finances.

For others you might find starting a business with help from a seasoned business person will help you relocate to plant churches and get you financed and connected to the community through this.

I feel there is much to explore and consider in this. Perhaps I need to write more about it as there are of course some pitfalls to avoid and things others have learnt the hard way by trying this. But I am convinced there is a vibrant way through.

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