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The Innovate Series is meant to offer new ideas that are intended to spark the imagination.  The ideas themselves are based on principles from Scripture, but are manifested in fresh ways.

Use them in your church.  Change them to fit your context.  Meet the people where they are at.  Be creative!

The Co-Op

A church I know in LA is doing something very innovative.  They’re opening a business.

Sounds normal, right?  Every mega-church has a coffee shop.  I know of big churches that run a housing business – buying property and renting out housing for the renters in the area.  Maybe a publishing company.

Why are my friends in LA any different?

river cityThey are putting ownership into the hands of the individuals at their church.  A co-op.

Basically, it works like this – a few individuals who have succeeded in business in the past open up a business.  Then they hire people in the church and the community who don’t have many opportunities.  Those in the lower socioeconomic class, the ones who cannot get off welfare, single-mothers, etc.

Not only does each employee learn a job, but part of their working day is spent learning skills to run the business and manage their own finances.  As each person proves competence by doing their job well and participating in leadership, they are offered the chance to become a member of the LLC.  This means if they are willing to take the risk of investing a small amount, they can become part owners.

The goal is not only to provide a well-earned wage, but also to provide business skills that will help the individuals through their entire lives.  They might become part owners of the Co-op, but they learn to run successful businesses in the process.  They will be able to create their own startups at the end.

Simply put, with new opportunities, comes more #hope for the #city. #optimism Click To Tweet

Integrating Business and the Church

Integrating business and the church sounds pretty ludicrous at first glance.  Am I right?

I mean, it sounds like I’m saying that the church needs to become more money-hungry and teaching their members to do the same.  That’s what business is about, right?

Maybe in terms of the world.  But let’s look at it through the eyes of service in the church.bike

The original owners of the business make a major sacrifice to start a co-op.  Think about it.

They take on all the hard work of a startup.  That’s a huge investment.

Then they hire people who have not proven themselves in the marketplace.  That’s a huge risk.

Then they pay their employees to spend half their day off the job in classes/mentorship discussions.  That’s a huge loss in production.

Then they sell membership to the LLC at a lower-than-market value.  From a business standpoint, that’s just plain stupid.

We were made to flourish in God's #Creation. Click To Tweet

You see, at its very core, it is a ministry.  Helping people flourish is part of the church’s purpose.  These businessmen and women have a gift and it is their duty to use the gift to build up the body (1 Corinthians 12).  As they train people to be successful in taking care of themselves and their families, they take a hit, but the church is built up.  That’s the whole point of ministry, isn’t it?

Business, the Church, and the Community

When this is done correctly, the entire community benefits.  Watch this:

  1. The owners don’t just hire people from the church, but also the larger community.
  2. This particular church in LA is putting together a neighborhood farmer’s market which will pump seed money into the new businesses being created as co-ops.  This advocates for healthy eating habits in the community, community involvement (due to the necessary partnerships to put on such a venture), and stimulus to the economy as local products are offered.
  3. As they produce a product or service through the co-op, the community reaps the benefit of having that new resource.
  4. The co-op adds to the financial well-being of the community as more revenue is pumped into the local economy.
  5. As the individuals learn to become financially stable, they are better able to take care of their families.  Studies show that strong families make the community better geared for upward social mobility.
  6. Simply put, with new opportunities, comes more hope for the city.  And that is so important to us at The Borough.

A Focus on Life Development

swimmingOur churches must think more broadly in terms of leadership development.  Yes, we must train people to be competent in ministry.  But we must also train people to be successful in life.

We were made to flourish in God’s Creation.  Gaining skills, becoming financially stable, taking good care of your families, serving Christ’s church, becoming a benefactor to the community – these are some of the traits of a life made new by Jesus.

This innovative co-op business integrated into the church is a beautiful way to develop people in their lives, spiritually as well as materially.

Thank God!

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