How Some Churches Are Encouraging Entrepreneurship And Supporting Startups

By Victor Ochieng

It’s important to acknowledge that the faith-work movement has registered notable success in their efforts to teach Christians how to link their faith and daily work, helping many to reorganize themselves and take new approaches to economic growth.

Individuals use the teachings differently, with some taking a complete mental shift towards economic activities, while others simply have to fine tune a few things to get going. While some choose to continue working at their usual workplaces, others choose to disrupt their normal economic activities to venture in totally new paths.

It’s evident that more churches are showing interest in helping their members to focus more on innovation, entrepreneurship and capital investment, being some of the best approaches to disrupting one’s normal economic life, especially for those employed in the 9-5 jobs.

Crossroads, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based evangelical church, has posted tremendous success in such efforts, including organizing an annual conference and startup competitions. A Bloomberg piece by Mya Frazier talks about the church, its history and some of the plans it has to boost new businesses.

The church’s drive can be traced back to 1990 when it all started as a Bible study session by some business figures at Procter & Gamble Co. The Bible study grew quite impressively that in 1996, they held their first church service. Now, they boast of about 30,000 members and have a yearly operating budget of $33 million.

“A business endeavor is close to the heart of God and every bit as important as anything else on God’s green earth,” says Brian Tome, Crossroads’ senior pastor. “God’s placed a seed in you,” he explains in another piece, “and he wants to see it come to fruitfulness … the right seed that will bring forth the right fruit at the right time in every business.”

Through their startup competitions and annual conference, the church seeks to “engage, energize and inspire the entrepreneurial spirit.” Their activities include a well-funded pitch contest, in which participants compete for real investor capital and a slot in the church’s business accelerator initiative.

The program consists of two main wings, namely, Ocean Capital (for-profit investment) and Ocean Accelerator Inc. (Increasing God’s presence in businesses).

“Our core approach is developing the capability and training them to raise money,” says Weiss. “If you are a Christian and you want to produce in your faith, Ocean teaches 0000you how to raise money in a Christian way, and that there’s got to be an ethical standard to doing that. We teach them to pick your investors with care and to be very careful¬†because you are going to be married a very long time.”