Serving Leaders was pleased to welcome Calvin Chin, Director of the Entrepreneurship Initiative at the Center for Faith & Work, Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City to Pittsburgh on May 16th at our Breakfast on the Great Purpose of Entrepreneurship. As we prepared for Calvin’s visit, we asked him to consider some questions about the work of Redeemer and its Center for Faith & Work. Here are a few thoughtful insights from Calvin.
How does a Center for Faith & Work help to realize the Redeemer Vision?
Redeemer was founded on a vision of “The Gospel Changes Everything!” It changes individuals, communities, and the world so that we have different values, intentions, and results.
Redeemer has done this by teaching us to live out the gospel in real and tangible ways—Jeremiah 29:7—so that our lives that are fully integrated, spiritually and practically.
In New York City, the identity people take from their work is much more pronounced than the rest of the country. Tim Keller tackled that first by preaching from the pulpit about the importance of cultural renewal and that work we do in the marketplace is part of cultural renewal and we must recognize that work is good but because of the fall is broken and distorted. The traditional thinking of the Christian is that work (toil and labor) is just something to do while we wait for Christ to come back or until we die and go to heaven. But this is unbiblical thinking—work is what most of us do for a large part of our waking hours and it is a vital part of renewing culture.
Also, we know that work is extremely important but it cannot be the thing we rest our worth and hope on; it is very easy to make work an idol. So even before the Center for Faith & Work was created in 2002, there were ad-hoc programs early on to help people see how God cares about their work and how their work is part of worship. The Bible supports the importance of work but as a mandate God gave us rather than the foundation we rest our hope in.
The CFW’s tag line is to Equip, Connect, and Mobilize.
- Equip – theologically and practically,
- Connect – people in the marketplace who feel isolated or ineffective and need touch points with other believers to remind them of their mission
- Mobilize – by being equipped and having community inside and outside of the church community, they can be the best possible worker, boss, manager or partner as they go about influencing in their role.
Why would a church make a decision to invest in entrepreneurs?
After CFW started showing some real traction in starting great conversations about why we work so hard and what is work’s purpose in our lives and the biblical narrative of redemption, we realized something profound and deeply rooted in the Gospel. While the gospel can transform people into excellent employees and senior corporate leaders, institutions are harder to change because, as Mike Novak shared, they are living organisms with fallen people running the show and carrying out legacy practices. An intentionally integrated Christian is limited in the change they can affect even if they rise to become CEO and are in positions of significant influence.
We believe that Entrepreneurs by nature are missional! Entrepreneurs can create and run new ventures and from day one they can infuse the gospel in to its mission and practice. From the vision, to the products and services, to the organizational culture and values and to the way they engage themselves. Biblically, entrepreneurs embody the creative spirit of God. Entrepreneurs want to solve problems, meet unmet needs, or do things better or in a new way, they are all about rearranging the particulars into something new that creates value and opportunity. They are true missionaries in the marketplace trying to make Jesus Christ real and tangible to their neighbors.
What sets gospel centered entrepreneurship apart?
Gospel centered entrepreneurship is about the end result and the motivation – why we are doing it and where does it lead? Similarly, with your job and career – why are you doing it matters as much as how you are doing it. If the gospel is the center and foundation of every little thing you do then you will be will energized, emboldened, and supported—regardless of the outcome.
Gospel centered entrepreneurship also points toward the redemptive love of Christ in that being involved in an entrepreneurial venture is a spiritual and physical sacrifice. The big uncertainty in entrepreneurship is always –will it fail or succeed. Someone who has the gospel as the center of their life and their venture will be able to deal with the journey and outcome in a much more loving and joyful way. Meaning, they can let go and take comfort in how God’s spirit used them to glorify Him and the other way around.
For more information about The Ei and the Center for Faith and Work and Redeemer go www.faithandwork.org
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