Can You Really Plant a Church and Launch a Startup?


The wider the message of Intrepid spreads the more the we've heard back from many of you. Not that we’re pioneers or came up with this, but we’re simply bringing together church planting with community economic development and startups. That’s our angle on church planting.

We’ve heard from many of you who’re resonating with what we’re doing and the message we’re communicating. Conversely, we’ve also received pushback as well. Both are warranted and welcomed.

Usually the pushback comes in the form of this statement, you can’t plant a church and start a business (or non-profit) at the same time. You can’t do both well. In the minds of those who think and say this the premise is that so much effort, energy, and resources are directed towards the launch and growth of weekend worship gatherings that anything else is a drain and a distraction. Also, for many the process of church planting is such a resource-intensive endeavor that adding a startup makes it even more unfathomable.

It all depends what you want to start and how.

There’s an enormous spectrum of what we call a “startup.” For many that word conjures up images of a tech startup in San Francisco where millions of dollars have been raised or solicited through angel investors and the like. With that in mind, yes, the task of planting a church plus launching a startup seems even more daunting. There are definitely those wired and skilled enough to actually do that.

However, on the other end of the spectrum that Dr. Charles Heying researches and writes about in his book Brew to Bikes: Portland’s Artisan Economyis a whole different group of start-up entrepreneurs. For many in his research, they launched their businesses with a passion, love, and even a sense of “calling” (“I must do this”). A number of start-ups noted in his book did so with little to no start-up funds. Instead ... they just started. Maybe they cobbled together supplies and began brewing beer in their garage as they figured it out. Maybe they began sewing cycling bags for friends on a sewing machine they picked up at Goodwill. Some started roasting coffee on an air popper on their kitchen table. And then these turned into businesses and grew incrementally.

Heying writes:

Artisan enterprises seem first to appear in sectors that can be learned by doing (self-teaching, peer sharing, and apprenticeships), do not require difficult-to-attain professional licensure, have accessible production technologies and low-tech resource inputs, depend more on skilled labor than capital, and initially have minimal spaced needs that can be met by a variety of configurations (p. 49).

The moral of the story? Depending on what you want to do or start ... it might not take any money, or at least a very minimum amount (which can be rolled into your fundraising if you’re raising funds for planting a church).

You don’t have to be overwhelmed. Like a planting a church, you don’t have to start with a lot of hype and a loud bang. You can simply begin ...