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Entrepreneurship class bridges Christian ethics with business practices

Posted by Laura Gomez  April 3, 2013 01:11 PM

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Church leaders from various Christian institutions in the Greater Boston-area are part of the new “Entrepreneurship in Church & Community” course, which coaches these students on effective practices to help community entrepreneurs start their own business.

Taught by David Gill in the Center for Urban Ministerial Education in Roxbury, which is the Boston campus of The Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the course’s goal is to mobilize churches to create new businesses and get involved in generating meaningful employment.

“We are working our theological, biblical, and Christian theory with concrete practices of business,” said Gill. For 12 weeks, the class studies the basics of business planning, finance, marketing, and management.

Gill, a professor of Christian and business ethics for more than 30 years, thinks that churches have tremendous resources to connect the community of churchgoers, from those who know how to start and run a good business to those who need and want work.

The course enrolled 12 students who are current or future pastors from Greater Boston area churches. The students are coached in business practices once a week on Saturdays by Gill and three other instructors; Larry Ward, Mark Harden, and Devon MacCarley.

“The seminar is training future and current pastors to turn their churches into job-creating factories, not just prayer-creating factories,” said Gill.

The students then coach and support one or two entrepreneurs from their community on planning and launching a small business. In total 16 entrepreneurs with various business ideas are working with the student-mentors.

The business start-ups include restaurants, a graphic design company, imported clothing, landscaping and handyman services, and mobile apps, among many others.

Reverend Larry Ward, who co-teaches the class with Gill, said the entrepreneurs have different motivations to start a new business.

“Some were laid-off, some want to transition from a day job to a business job, for some it’s been their dream, and others want to take their business to another level,” said Ward, senior pastor at the Abundant Life Church in Cambridge.

On April 6th, the 16 entrepreneurs will be given five minutes to present and promote their new business in a “Launch Party,” held at the Center for Urban Ministerial Education in Roxbury, 90 Warren St., from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

“It’s been a fascinating experience,” said Gill, who hopes to inspire other community churches to foster a new generation of pastors who care about job creation and employment, not just prayer and worship.

The course tuitions were paid in full by funds from The Kern Family Foundation, and $1,000 in start-up funds are available per entrepreneur, according to Gill. To earn funding, entrepreneurs must justify their spending with a budget and business plan approved by their respective student-mentors.

The course funding was renewed for next spring, when an expanded class of 18 students is expected to enroll.

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