Thursday, May 15, 2008

Evangelical Venture Capital in Scotland

The Church of Scotland is investing in entrepreneurs, it seems to me.

A news brief I found reports that this Presbyterian denomination is planning to invest about $3 million in "emerging ministries" over five years. Some grants could be as large as $60,000 per year for three years.

But more than the dollars, here's what really caught my eye (emphasis added):

The Emerging Ministries Fund will be supporting projects that engage with people outside inherited formal structures and at grassroots. In many cases this may mean less of a dependence on buildings and getting people to 'come to church' and a greater emphasis on taking church to the people.

The Assembly will hear that the Emerging Ministries Fund intends to support work in three areas: the promotion of new church growth alongside or beyond the existing congregation; establishing church from the ground up and exploring what that means for the given demographic and cultural context; and experimenting with new approaches to ministry.

Can you say "House Church?" Perhaps using - oh, let's call them "Home Front Missionaries" who could plant micro-churches alongside and in companionship with existing congregations?

But enough of that... let's get back to the dollars! My own tribe is about 7 times as large as the Church of Scotland, so if we invested proportionately that would put about $20 some million dollars on the table. That's some dough. If something like that is coming down the pike I'd sure love to hear about it!

Lately the term "seedcasting" has been lingering in my thoughts. Like when the sower sows liberally, though only a few really produce, yet the harvest is still abundant. Seems like a good strategy. Seems like the Scots are gearing up to sow, God bless 'em!

1 comment:

Steve G said...

Sounds like the Church of Scotland is venturing out into new territory. Halleluiah! Their "spirit" reminds me a little of the first century church ... leaving behind the established church of Jerusalem to venture out into Gentile (read: "foreign") territory in order to reach people who were completely outside the boundaries of what was normal and accepted practice.

It's a huge challenge for any institution, including the church, to create pockets where entrepreneurship can be born, much less flourish. It's like starting an R & D unit in a company that is given premission to color way outside the lines in order to experiement with new contexts and methods, some of which can be brought back to help the larger institution be more effective in its mission in proclaiming the gospel.

It takes leadership that is passionate, courageous and bold to take risks (let's be honest) that often do not take off like a rocket, or even bear fruit. It takes persistence to stick with it to find that one idea or method that does offer a breakthrough though, or bring a new level of effectiveness. And--it takes humility to be willing to try new things and new directions in the first place, because this says that we may not have all the answers yet. Or, that there may be some better answers out there that will help us be more effective in proclaiming the gospel.