Multiplication Center

Building a church startup ecosystem in your city (Part 2)

August 3, 2014

missio churchSummary–This blog post (part two in the three-part series) puts forth the case that building a church-planting ecosystem in a city, typified by generosity of time and resources, that involves pastors, mentors, entrepreneurs, coaches, funders, along with supporting events and activities is better than any individual church planting effort.

Since 2005 new models of entrepreneur accelerators have emerged. All around the world in cities like Boulder, Seattle, London, Austin and Boston entrepreneurs are creating startup communities. These “innovation districts” attract a critical mass of talent and capital and create an environment where people and ideas can meet, mingle and give birth to an enterprise that previously had not existed. New thought leaders and practitioners are shaping the startup conversation. Startup accelerators like YCombinator in Mountain View (founded 2005) and Boulder’s Techstars (founded 2007) are leading the way in how startups are conceived, funded, and launched in the 21st Century.
In 2012 Techstar’s Brad Feld wrote a book called The  Startup Community: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City (Click HERE to see a short animation of the thesis of this book. Feld also writes a daily blog). Feld’s book and blog provides many crossover connections into the space of kingdom entrepreneurs. Feld writes, Startups are at the core of everything we do. An individual’s life is a startup that begins at birth. Every city was once a startup, as was every company, every institution, and every project. As humans we are wired to start things.

And as Christ followers we are wired to start churches. Feld puts forth his “Boulder Thesis”—four key components of a startup community. As you read these, think of how these components apply to building a church-planting ecosystem in your city. Here are Feld’s four components of a startup community:

  1. Led by entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have to lead the startup community. The entrepreneurs are the leaders; everyone else (government, universities, investors, mentors, service providers, and large companies) is a “feeder.”
  2. Long-term commitment. Successful entrepreneurs take a very long-term view—ideally at least 20 years (and reset that 20-year commitment every day)
  3. Foster a community of inclusiveness. The startup community must be inclusive of anyone who wants to participate in it. The only condition is that they come to give before they get. Current entrepreneurs welcome other entrepreneurs and introduce them to their network. They hold wakes for enterprises that fail and throw parties for those that succeed.
  4. The startup community must have continual activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack—hackathons, new tech meetups, mixers, open coffee clubs, startup weekends, startup weeks, conferences, etc. “It’s just this sort of network chaos of entrepreneurs doing what entrepreneurs do, which  creates things. That force of the entrepreneurs to build something bigger than just themselves and their company is so incredibly powerful”

How would you assess the church startup culture of your city?

In the past five years 52 church planters have left our city. And the saddest thing is very few people knew they were here. They operated under the radar…trying to meet existing Christians to form their critical core in order to launch. They feel like they not only have failed but that they are failures. They slink out of town feeling shameful that they let so many people down. Most feel disqualified to every plant again because they have let down their families, their sponsors, and doubt their ability to discern what God is asking them to do. Contrast that with the tech startup community. Failure is not a disqualification but rather a qualification for funding. Most Venture Capitalists will not fund an entrepreneur who has not failed. Because others in the startup community are invested in the startup they mourn the failure of the company but care deeply for and celebrate the entrepreneur. They remain part in town as part of the startup culture. They’ve earned their stripes and they have a story to tell and an audience all to eager to listen and learn.

Next post–A culture of generosity

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