Entrepreneurial Ministry and Innovation
- by Robin James Graham (UTS’80) and Cabot Peterson (UTS’92)
Exploring the vision and mission of Alumni Relations, the value of a UTS education and the possibilities that come with a UTS degree enter into the conversation. Also considered is the importance of friendships that are made during one’s time at UTS, and how alumni and alumnae stay in touch after graduation.
The February 7 UTS News article: The Top 5 Qualities of a Successful Faith-Based Social Entrepreneur, gave us food for thought. Robin was reminded of the concept of the entrepreneur as it was introduced to him in his undergraduate Economics degree. One definition tells us that an entrepreneur is, “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” Dictionary.com.
Another description says Entrepreneurship can be viewed as:
- recognizing change
- pursuing opportunity
- taking on risk and responsibility
- making better (higher value) use of resources
- creating new value that is meaningful to customers.
Certainly there is a need for management training to prepare students for the organizational and administrative tasks of running a social program, a mission, or a church. There are skills needed in human resource management (volunteer and paid), communications and social media, financial administration, event-planning program management, and marketing. The list goes on as in any business venture, but perhaps the skills needed are even more critical when the manager has a social or spiritually-oriented “business.”
UTS offers a broad range of courses to address these needed skillsets. They can be found in the UTS Catalog 2017-2018, pp 44-46. One of these courses is Entrepreneurial Ministry, MGT 5312.
MGT 5312 Entrepreneurial Ministry: This course explores the challenges of starting one's own business and looks at the best practices of successful entrepreneurs. Many of the principles studied in this course can also be applied to church planting or starting a non-profit ministry [an “NGO,” i.e., Non-Government Organization]. Through theory, history, case studies, and examples this course will explore the triumphs, trials, and tribulations of entrepreneurship so that students will have the necessary tools to start their own enterprises and businesses.
There are a couple of cutting-edge programs in religious education circles. Tabor College runs an Online MA in Ministry Entrepreneurship and Innovation. A Distinguished Visiting professor for the program is Leonard Sweet, Ph.D., now Emeritus Professor of Evangelism, Drew University.
“I’m happy to be working with Tabor College’s Ministry Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MEI) initiative because this Masters degree program offers a pioneering model of Tablet-Table learning. Students meet together in person two times; once in a face-to-face local setting to focus on spiritual formation, and again in a global setting to participate in an international experience. During these ‘Advances’ (like the Marines, Christians don’t “retreat” but “advance from another direction”), students and faculty form a learning community built around table talk and table rituals. In addition, students take innovative and creative online intensive courses that help them answer the missional question, ‘How do I see what God is doing in the world so I can join it?’
“Students also meet weekly with each other in face-to-face cohort sessions, using the latest in technology that creates a tight-knit learning environment even though students are spread all across the country and the world.”Leonard Sweet, Ph.D.
Earlham School of Religion is also exploring entrepreneurial ministry and innovation
“Entrepreneurial leadership, whether in ministry, service, or business, has a spiritual vein, connecting with the deep life of the Spirit. As something new and untested, the experimental nature of this venture is all but guaranteed. As a response to the work of the Spirit within, the feel of holiness or sacred ground is natural. The sense of riskiness is genuine. The value of courage can hardly be overrated as one takes the initial steps toward this new investment of one’s self in the work that emerges from this effort.
We live at a vibrant moment. Whether in established structures or new ventures, desires to be useful, faithful, and successful co-mingle toward an integrated life where faith and vocation are one. Many old structures struggle to survive. New visions insist that innovative approaches and new models must be found! But how does one begin? Who understands the challenges faced? What does one need to succeed? It is an exhilarating moment for the entrepreneurial spirit. We may expect fresh leadership to emerge from successes and failures alike.”Dean Jay Marshall
Doing some further research in Christian sources we notably found:
- Top 10 Traits of Entrepreneurial Church Leaders | By Cameron Trimble
- Why We Need More Entrepreneurial Church Leaders, Not More Shepherds | By Carey Nieuwhof
Both articles provide insight and provoke reflection on the status quo.
UTS is navigating its second 40 years (2015-2055) and regularly explores opportunities to better serve and prepare our graduates to enter a changing religious and social landscape where innovation and creativity are needed to succeed.