This article was written by Luke Dooley and published by Faith Driven Entrepreneur
One of the best parts of the OCEAN story is that our work launched out of the vision and generosity of a local church. Whenever I tell our founding story, I relish celebrating Crossroads Church, our founding partner, and their entrepreneurial nature.
It all started with a simple act … leaving the doors to the building open.
Like many churches, Crossroads had a building that could have been left unoccupied most of the week. Instead, they allowed the community to access the well outfitted space (great coffee, fast wi-fi, and comfortable seating) from 7am-9pm each week day.
That simple act created countless collisions, opportunities for people to meet and dream together… many of those dreams were of entrepreneurs focused on starting new businesses to help the city and its people flourish.
And so OCEAN was born — in a collision of entrepreneurs who all worked out of a church lobby, who were empowered by the church leaders to live out their calling.
Two Key Questions
Notice the two implicit questions Crossroads asked to make this all possible: How might we leverage the resources we have for the most good for the most people? and How might we catalyze individuals to live in the fullness of their faith and calling?
Embrace the common good.
Empower and release people to be everyday missionaries.
These ideas are core to the DNA of any church who seeks the flourishing of their community. The church is a place that, at its best, understands the problems of their community, asks good questions about those needs, and empowers people to create solutions.
We call those problem-solvers & solution-creators entrepreneurs.
When Your Church Invests in Entrepreneurs, Your Mission has Exponential Impact
What has happened in Cincinnati does not have to be a unique story. The day your church invests in entrepreneurs doesn’t have to be an unattainable dream.
If the local church and Christian leaders in cities across the country decided to invest in and unleash entrepreneurs as kingdom-partners, the investment would see immeasurable returns. Think about the benefits to a local community when a healthy entrepreneur launches a thriving business:
Positive economic impact
Cultural overflow (more on this below)
Increase of generosity
One of the most significant aspects of a healthy entrepreneur launching a strong business is the fact that a full-time employee will spend close to 2,000 hours per year under the leadership of these entrepreneurs. More than 2,000 hours every year — what an opportunity to shape lives! Vocation shapes us; our workplaces change the sorts of neighbors, spouses, parents, coaches, and church goers we are. If most of the workplaces in our city are toxic and unhealthy … how can our community help but trend toward unhealthy?
It’s not hard to imagine, however, the inverse. What if more Kingdom-oriented workplace cultures were launched and led by entrepreneurs who were on a mission to positively impact on their employees and communities?
Entrepreneurs Need Support from the Church
But, entrepreneurship is hard. It’s lonely and isolating. The same people who shape places of business — and subsequently our neighborhoods and cities — are at great risk in terms of their emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Entrepreneurs deal with higher rates of depression, anxiety, divorce and suicide than the general population. They need the love, training, community, and support of the local church.
There are many great opportunities for the church to love their city. At OCEAN, and in Cincinnati, we’ve proven that serving entrepreneurs is an innovative and upstream way to serve the city. Engaging both the people already in churches and also those outside the walls — people with latent dreams secretly begging for support, who are lonely and beaten down by the entrepreneurial journey and need a safe place to build their dream into reality — with practical help and meaningful relationships.
What if the local church in your community viewed entrepreneurs as a group of dreamers who require great investment and yield exponential missional returns?
All I can tell you is that when one church in the rust-belt city of Cincinnati decided to do that, the city and the nation started talking about it. Articles in publications like The Business Courier, The Enquirer, Bloomberg Business, USA Today, Wired Magazine, and more have chronicled the efforts and impact over the years.
When the church cares about and invests in entrepreneurs, the whole city celebrates. When the church invests in entrepreneurs, they are healthier in every dimension of life. When the church invests in entrepreneurs, a tide of mission-minded leaders are sent into the city.