Pioneer leaders explore mission and entrepreneurship

Mission pioneer Jonny Baker wants to see more Christians combine their Kingdom-building ideas with business know-how.

He recently led creative thinkers in business and mission at a groundbreaking five day residential hosted by Church Mission Society.

Under the banner of "Missional Entrepreneurship", the course brought together some of the brightest leaders in social enterprise with practitioners involved in new methods of outreach and fresh expressions of church.

The week-long conversation, held earlier this month at Pickwell Manor in Devon, formed part of CMS’s new Pioneer Mission Leadership Training course.

Baker, who leads the course, said, “In order for pioneering to be sustainable, we must learn the lessons of social enterprise.

"Creative means of sharing the gospel need to be self supporting as well as transformative.

"For too long business principles have been seen as incompatible with missional activity.

"That is why we have created this learning opportunity and are encouraging students to be thinking and actively pursuing activities that extend the Kingdom of God and are not wholly dependent on charitable sources of funding.”

Course participants heard the inspiring story of Sweet Notions from founder Shannon Hopkins. The social enterprise uses donated jewellery and accessories and 'upcycles' them into brand new pieces. The enterprise aims to be zero waste - sending nothing to landfill - and uses profits for social initiatives like running a jewellery-making workshop in a homeless women's hostel.

They also heard from Steve Baker, an entrepreneur who models enterprise as mission at Pickwell Manor.

Owned by two Christian families, the business is working to become self sustaining while encouraging change in individual lives and transformation of the local community.

It does this by offering comfortable and affordable hospitality to wedding parties and families on vacation as well as hosting community events and providing conference facilities to not for profit organisations.