Monday, May 2, 2016

Pastoring the Community, pt. 3: Social Entrepreneurship

Social entreprenuership is generally defined as the use of business to address social problems. That is essentially what the Sun Ministries Opportunity Center does. We currently run 5 businesses which act as employment and training environments for people with obstacles. We are also using them to rebuild the economy of our neighborhood. They provide jobs, bring money and visitors into the area, and act as a tool to highlight the problems we face. Our customers are aware of the nature of our work, regardless of what business they're patronizing, and learn about the challenges people have and the immensity of the solutions necessary to overcome them.

We are creating opportunity for the oppressed with the work of our hands, instead of storing up wealth for ourselves. Our missionaries are not paid, and they live a modest lifestyle so that we can use most of our resources for the ministry. We can improve our businesses, provide steady hours and decent pay for our employees, and be involved in other ministry opportunities in the neighborhood.

We are utilizing all of our resources - money, labor, creativity, skills, materials – for the sake of the Kingdom. Our businesses provide skill and tools for ministry. We've used vehicles and tools to do community clean-ups. We've used our maintenance and construction skills to fix widows' homes. We've utilized our cafe for our employees' family gatherings, and for employee Christmas parties. This is simply taking the values of the Good News of the Kingdom and applying them to everything we do- not just to our own personal attitudes and actions, but also to our businesses. In living the Gospel, we can utilize all we have and do in outwardly-focused ministry opportunities. The Gospel of Jesus is always bigger than our selves and always sacrificial, and there's no reason that should not permeate our businesses.

This business model also fits in to the long-term, big picture view of Pastoring the Community. Rebuilding economy takes time. Reentering the workforce takes time. We have to be creative, patient, and always looking to solve problems.

We have learned that not all people can perform all tasks. Having multiple businesses gives us the ability to move people around. It also diversifies our income so that the ministry as a whole can continue to function, even if one of the businesses does poorly for a while.

Pastoring the Community also involves care, and we've already shared some examples of that. In restoring buildings, creating nice spaces, and stabilizing areas, we are caring for the neighborhood as a whole. Our restaurant, Sun Cafe, has especially played a role in being a meeting space for all sorts of businesses and organizations.

We've also found that when you set your intentions on following God's design, He builds something you didn't expect. We've already talked about the idea of a prepared work, which is spoken of in Ephesians 2:10. Besides the miraculous provision and planning that has come about, we've witnessed that the businesses God has built here function differently. They are places where ministry can occur, where pride can be challenged and yet esteem built up.

To learn more about the Opportunity Center and our businesses, visit our websites:

Read Pastoring the Community, Part 1 - Social Justice

Read Pastoring the Community, Part 2 - Urban Renewal

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