There have been entire industries created because of the Church. I am not even talking about those that serve the Church, like fundraising companies. I am talking about medical, printing and architecture. The history of the Church is not just bringing the gospel to communities but also jobs, innovations and social gathering spaces. I think we forget about that side of the Church.
I have started six companies now in my life and helped out many others. I was also a pastor in a local church for over 10 years. Two of my companies did quite well, three failed, and one’s future is still undetermined. I will probably start a few more before it is all said and done. Why do I tell you all of this? Because I think you should hear about a church in Cincinnati, Ohio, who is putting its funds behind an accelerator that is in the crosshairs of faith and entrepreneurship.
Let me introduce you to Crossroads Community Church. Crossroads is led by Brian Tome and averages an attendance of around 25,000 people a weekend. What I find amazing is that most of the people who will read this will have never heard of Crossroads and/or Brian. I think this is a shame. Not only are they doing amazing things in Cincinnati, but they should also be getting more attention for the innovative things they are doing overall. I got to sit down with Brian Tome and Scott Weiss, the Chairman and CEO of OCEAN Accelerator, a few weeks back to talk about why a church would help start an accelerator that gave mentoring, funding, and a business and faith curriculum to 10 companies.
It all started when Brian noticed all of the people meeting in the atrium space. Crossroads opens up its building and gives away free coffee during the week. Not only do homeless people come in, but Brian discovered that entrepreneurs and business leaders come in as well. He told the church that he and some of the leaders of the church were going to have a meeting for entrepreneurs. They set out 75 chairs for this meeting. Over 450 people showed up. That night, Brian asked what could be next because of this community, and the answer was twofold: let’s do a conference called “Unpolished” for businesses and start an accelerator called “OCEAN” for entrepreneurs. Crossroads didn’t just stop by saying that it would give space for this but has given over $200,000 to date to make these things happen.
I will never forget this statement Brian made: “OCEAN is the only ministry that I have ever helped start that the more successful it becomes the less money I have give it. Every other ministry, the more successful it is the more I have to fund it.” So that brings me to my question: why are more churches not helping to fund, mentor and guide more companies in their communities?
OCEAN has had one six-month class for 10 companies so far. They plan on having another class in January 2016 with another 10 companies. Can you imagine the impact and influence the Church could have if we cared that much about innovation?
What do you think? Do you think churches should be in the crosshairs of faith and entrepreneurship? What are the things that are keeping other churches from doing what Crossroads has done?