Dr. Jeffery Robinson speaking at the Mission and Resource Center. Photo by John Schol

Entrepreneurship Summit Re-Imagines Mission

July 5, 2016 | | GNJ News

Rutgers University’s Dr. Jeffery Robinson of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development led a day-long summit at the Mission and Resource Center on Saturday, June 18. Centered on re-imagining mission, community development and the church, the summit was a part of Greater New Jersey’s Communities of Hope and brought out 50 people representing 20 congregations and two seminary students.

Dr. Robinson, an Assistant Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship met with Communities of Hope leaders, reminding them that Jesus was an entrepreneur.

“Jesus was a risk-taker, and in His narrative preaching engaged all the major industries of His day including shepherding, fishing, winemaking and even investing,” said GNJ Director of Mission and Multicultural Ministries, Nicole Caldwell-Gross.

The event was designed for all churches, pastors, and laity interested in innovative mission and who think outside the box with a desire to learn how to do effective outreach, community development, mission and ministry. Dr. Robinson’s research described how business practices and entrepreneurship can be used to impact societal issues, particularly concerning the community and economic development issues in urban metropolitan areas in the U.S. and abroad.

“Social entrepreneurship is the process of pursuing solutions to social problems,” said Bishop Schol. “For Christian leaders, this blending of business ideas with Christian mission can be a valuable tool to help sustain communities and an organization while at the same time bearing witness to the reign of God.”

With a goal of stirring the imagination and breaking up the limited definition of what “mission” is in order to explore what mission could be, the summit was an inspiring and informational introduction to innovative entrepreneurship through the church.

“For so long the church has not considered entrepreneurship as a strategy for the larger mission of transforming the world,” said Caldwell-Gross, explaining that social entrepreneurship does exactly that. “It looks at the greatest challenges in our society and thinks about how people who want to make a difference can do things differently to respond to those challenges.”

Dr. Robinson led the group through countless creative examples of social entrepreneurs whose work has transformed inmate recidivism rates, pollution, hunger, unemployment and homelessness. The training was one of a series for  Communities of Hope congregations to equip themselves  to transform their communities  with real, tangible strategies.

Capital District Superintendent Rev. Varlyna Wright said the summit left her moved by the possibilities of doing ministry. “This was a great opportunity for churches to see how they can engage in social entrepreneurship to support what they’re passionate about.”