God was an entrepreneur in choosing to relate to us through Christ in a new way. Up until that point, our direct experience with God was limited to some choice “burning bushes.” Christ was the embodiment of risk taking on behalf of God; constantly finding new ways to challenge the status quo and ticking off enough people along the way that it got him killed. One way of describing atonement is that Jesus risked everything so that we would be free to risk everything on behalf of God. We can risk our very lives for God and not have to worry about the consequences.
This Christian tradition of entrepreneurship continued through the apostolic order; first with the disciples, then with heretics, martyrs, and saints. There were a lot risk takers in those groups who gave their lives in the process of following God. There are still Christians in the world who are persecuted, and causes that are worth dying for. In the first world; however, the nature of risk taking has changed. Instead of waging bodily wars, we wage wars with ideas. Our beliefs have been amplified through information technology. The Arab Spring in Egypt is a great example: The hearts of the people there were the same, but their ability to share their beliefs was enhanced by social media. The result: a less bloody path to democracy than Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Joshua being commanded to cross the Jordan, it’s clear that God is doing “a new thing.”
Let me back up and talk about one of our greatest entrepreneurs: Paul. Some would say that Paul brought franchising to Christianity, opening up new branches in every city he visited.
It was also Paul who gave us one of the best theologies of entrepreneurship when he wrote to the Corinthians about “the body of Christ.”
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
That section ends with:
But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
I know of a church that takes Paul’s letter to heart by choosing to measure “success” by one factor: the number of people who were brought into a greater role in the body of Christ. They didn’t care about membership or attendance numbers, or even giving. Instead they focused on how many leaders they were developing. The result was a thriving church, doing truly innovative ministry in the name God. For example, they were dismayed about the number of families they were losing to Sunday morning soccer. This is a common problem, but instead of lamenting and throwing their hands in the air, they decided to create a sports complex as a new church instead of doing a traditional building project. The church focused on the connection between spiritual and physical health, and of course had a Sunday morning soccer league. It was leaders in the church that made it happen, and as a result dozens of coaches, trainers, and nutritionists were raised as new ministers in the church.
The lesson is this, creating a culture of entrepreneurship in your church isn’t a new idea; in fact it more closely resembles the early Christian traditions and the behavior of the triune God.