A local pastor who recently left his church to launch a food market where individuals are invited to sponsor hungry families with money that then enables them to purchase food at a market where the food itself has been donated. Part of the idea is to counter the humility of poverty with a little dignity while at the same time build some sustainability into the market itself so that it doesn’t turn into a typical struggling food pantry. This pastor turned social entrepreneur calls this “doing church,” and apparently, it represents the current expression of religiosity preferred among Millennials (a.k.a. the “Nones“). Get out of the church buildings and do church in the world.
My own church has recently launched an initiative to give away $250K in funding along with mentoring and coaching for young social entrepreneurs seeking to start projects for cultural betterment for the sake of the gospel. As it turns out, a number of organizations and some churches are already doing this with a good deal of success.
The latter was featured in a recent HuffPo piece, with a good bit of pushback from the faithful. For example:
It always amazes me that the people who most loudly profess their Christianity seem to know the least about Jesus Christ and his teachings. Jesus did not support “business start-ups.” The message Jesus taught was one of social concern for others. He urged the rich to give up their wealth to care for the poor and those in need. He disliked the accumulation and display of wealth and actually warned that it would be virtually impossible for the rich to reach heaven. He did not urge people to go and build business empires. I wish everyone good luck in their business and employment ventures. But … please … do him a favor and leave Jesus out of it ..
While God and money can’t be worshipped together, they have a long history of cooperation. I consider these recent endeavors more of an integration of faith and work than faith and profit (especially since most of these launches do so as low-profits). The passion of those pursuing these things represent, I hope, a redemption of capitalism for the sake of service rather than simply greed.