Joining the family business: Why love, community and creativity are key church values

I grew up working in a family enterprise. My lovely parents owned the local hardware shop in Northolt in the far west of London. Each night after school I put in the hours at the shop, serving customers, carrying heavy stuff to people's cars and helping my dad to close up the shop.

At home we would talk about the business around our dinner table. It was at the heart of our family life. It also provided us with a living.

PixabayFamily businesses can model churches.

I have reflected often on the virtues of a family business. In fact, I think that a great family enterprise and a great church have much in common.

There are patterns that family businesses share. The best of them aren't motivated by pure profit. They have values. These values include hard work, teamwork, honesty and enterprise. Family businesses tend to be rooted in a local community and play a great part in that community's life.

Our shop was a place for the lost and lonely. It was a place where people came to swap stories, have a cup of tea and take a rest from the hardships of life. Everyone was welcome and everyone was treated with respect.

And at the heart of everything was enterprise. Enterprise is not a dirty word. It certainly isn't about exploitation. Indeed the money earned in enterprising activities is what pays for a society's hospitals, teachers and social workers.

When I began training to be a priest I wondered if I was to leave behind my old life of enterprise and entrepreneurship. I sometimes wondered if holiness had anything much to do with business.

But I now embrace the enterprising parts of my life story and try to bring what I learned into my life as a church leader. Of course, there are many differences between the world of business and the world of church. There s not a direct correlation between the two and the language of business can sometimes be off-putting. But I have decided not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

My parents' quirky, inclusive and respectful little business helped me to understand the value of love, community and creativity. None of these are out of place in church. Indeed, they tend to help a church to be approachable, real and part of the place in which we are grounded.

I am struck by the fact that Jesus grew up in a family enterprise. He would have been part of a family unit, striving together to sustain themselves and to earn a good honest living. The values of working would have informed his ministry. God with us was also a worker.

I have at least this in common with the creator of the universe – we worked for our dads in the family enterprise.

Rev Steve Morris is the parish priest of St Cuthbert's North Wembley. Before being a priest he was a writer and ran a brand agency. In the 1980s he tried to become a pop star. He is the author of 'Enterprise and Entrepreneurship: doing good through the local church' The Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics, £4.99. Follow him on Twitter @SteveMorris214

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