[ahn-truh-pruh-nur, -noor; Fr. ahn-truh-pruh-nœr] noun, plural -neurs [-nurz, -noorz; Fr. -nœr]
A person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.
Entrepreneurs make the world go ’round. They catch a vision, see a need, identify a market and take the personal and corporate risk to meet the need. If successful, they create wealth and jobs and, yes, contribute to the tax base of the community. Entrepreneurs do things no one else does. They are often the most daring and hard-working people around. I admire them. I learn from them. And with great frequency, in our nation, you see them in immigrant populations who are exceedingly industrious.
Yeah for entrepreneurs and the atmosphere that helps them thrive.
The church, at its best, can also have an entrepreneurial spirit in the way it approaches its ministry and mission. It, too, can see a need, catch a vision, take a risk and go for gold. It requires courageous and risk-taking leaders and people who believe in the power of the possible. I want to re-claim the word, entrepreneur, in its best sense, for the church.
We are not a business, to be sure. But the way we envision ourselves reaching into the future requires something similar to this. An entrepreneurial spirit in the church is very close to the creation spirit: Believing that something can come out of nothing, that there is no such thing as finite resources, that new creation creates more, that abundance is untapped.
For sure if you are doing new church development you have to have this spirit. It’s impossible otherwise. And we often learn it best from faithful business people who do it well … and ethically.
The opposite atmosphere kills churches. When churches act like regulatory agencies, limiting the creativity and risk-taking ministries for God, the creation spirit is stifled. Churches that are exceptionally control-centered want to manage the movement of the spirit. They want to regulate it. This represses generosity, creativity and risk-taking.
I remember reading about one entrepreneur who rewarded his innovative employees with a party whenever they had a grand failure. They would bring in a cake, talk about what happened, share what was learned as a result and then blow out all the candles and clap. Then they would say, “Ok, what next?”
Some have called this the development of permission-giving churches. Do you have an idea for a ministry? Let’s try it on for size. Run the idea up the flagpole and see who salutes. As long as it is consonant with our identified mission, let the creative spirit loose. But don’t say no to God before the spirit has a chance to work.
Entrepreneurs. Church. Time to let the cat out of the bag.