A while ago I had the opportunity to attend a job creation conference in Memphis. I’d been doing some church planting work for the Mennonites in low-income, urban, neighbourhoods. They wanted me to look into creating micro-businesses that would employ people in our job-depleted urban communities.
So, off I went to the land of Elvis to learn the ins and outs of creating businesses.
At the first session, I listened to a panel of entrepreneurs who shared about their business ventures. I was exhausted within twenty minutes of listening to them, and it wasn’t from jet lag. Hearing them talk about their businesses and all the work they put into starting (and now running) their companies was thoroughly draining on me.
As an urban missionary, I already have enough on my plate. Recruiting, training, caring for and raising money for our inner-city church planters is hard enough.
You can imagine how I felt being told to create micro-businesses to employ our people on top of everything else I was doing. As I continued to listen to a successful business owner share about his work I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me.
In my mind, I heard a quiet voice say:
“Don’t do it. Don’t create businesses. That’s not your calling. I already have people who I have been calling to create businesses and they own successful companies. You go out and find them. You tell them that it’s their responsibility to employ your people. Your job is to train your people up to be great employees that they will hire.”
That thought was so wise I knew I couldn’t have come up with it on my own; it must’ve been from God!
Why should I create businesses when they already exist? Let someone gifted and called to business creation build businesses—I can recruit employees!
The rest of my time in Memphis I kept thinking and planning a strategy of how I could start an effective job-training program that would empower the people in our neighbourhoods to be employable.
I realized that most churches are great at providing short-term solutions to real-time needs by handing out food, clothing, or even providing shelter to people in need. In our ministry here at Connect City, we don’t want to replicate this important model. We want to take it a step further; instead of giving out food, clothing and shelter, why not give out jobs to people so that they can buy their own food, clothing and shelter?
We want to empower our people to take care of themselves and their families while keeping their dignity and self-confidence in place. This was the beginning of a partnership that some of my business friends and I hatched up between Christian business owners and the poor we serve. And I have to say, it’s beautiful.
We want to empower our people to take care of themselves and their families while keeping their dignity and self-confidence in place.
We just graduated out our first job-training cohort. Nine out of ten students are working. We also have a mentoring team of business people who journey alongside of our grads sharing life struggles and encouraging one another.
This has been an incredible thing to experience as rich and poor, male and female, young and old and a variety of cultures gather regularly to learn from each other’s lives. We even had mentors weep while praying for our students after getting to know what they’d already gone through in life. What a quality of an amazing mentor. It’s truly been a blessing for both our mentors and mentees; I can’t wait for our second class starting in a few months!
Faith alive in the work place, this is God’s will for his creation. Never forget, God has called us to serve. How we live out our calling will look different in accordance to how God created each one of us.
God’s future for you is waiting. All it takes for your faith to impact your workplace is a listening ear to the Spirit, an innovative and risk-taking faith and a heart after God’s kingdom reign.