The following is an interview with Jennifer Quillen, a financial advisor and small business consultant. Jennifer talks about Christian entrepreneurship, the role of the Church, and some cues we might take from Starbucks.
What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
The first thing that I think of when I hear entrepreneur is never settling, never stopping, always striving to do or be the solution to whatever problem, whether we know what the problem is or have the insight to recognize a problem before it was made aware.
How about a Christian entrepreneur?
For me personally it means being able to problem solve without compromising my values. I am able to look at a situation and have faith that through God and his love I will be able to accomplish the task within His will and glory.
What is the cultural mandate of Genesis 1-2, and why is human flourishing so important to God’s mission?
This is a very good question. In my humble opinion, I know that God created us to glorify Him. That was his ‘goal’ for us to glorify Him and have a familial relationship with Him. He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve before the fall and He wanted to have a relationship with them. Within this relationship God would be glorified every day and it was very good. So after sin came and separated from God, he still loved us. He still wanted us to worship Him and glorify him. Therefore, he placed burdens on us to bear, all with knowing that one day he would send his son Jesus to save us and bring us the Holy Spirit to continue our relationship with him. God wants us to flourish with total reliance on Him to glorify Him because He loves us.
How does human flourishing relate to the gospel message?
God sent Jesus to save us and rescue us from the permanent death that sin creates. With this in mind He sent Jesus so that we would have life eternal and have it in abundance. Abundance to the world looks different than that of a Christ follower. Abundance to the world means ‘stuff.’ Abundance to the Christian means joy, happiness, to commune with God through the Holy Spirit daily and to celebrate the victory that is ours.
What does human flourishing look like?
To the world it looks like success with lots of stuff, cars, big houses, pride. But I think to the Christian our flourishing rests in the attitude of the believer. This means: as business owner there are always issues and challenges that I face every day; however, I can have an attitude of gratitude or an attitude of success and this will flourish my relationship with God which in turn leads to abundance which in turn leads to God being glorified.
Is it possible for the church to be too “heavenly minded”?
If you are saying Church as “God’s people the Church,” then I do not believe that you can ever be too heavenly minded. Keeping the end in mind will help you accomplish the daily tasks to reach that result. I know as a Christian that I am saved by Christ’s blood and will go to heaven once I leave this earth. This makes me very excited! I want to know what heaven looks like, sounds like, smells like—I can’t wait. Now on the flip side is the saying “so heavenly bound, no earthly good.” We have to mindful to not be prideful and ugly everyday – this does not fulfill our mission of bringing Jesus to the lost.
How can local churches work purposefully to help their communities flourish holistically?
Great question: this is something I am struggling with myself. Only 100 years ago our churches/church building/church community was the center of our social relationships. Now it is the last place we think of to go to on Sunday morning—let alone on a Friday night! I feel that there needs to be a re-purposing of the church building, meaning it needs to be a place for folks to gather and have a social time with friends, to serve one another, to grow with one another, to pray for one another, as well as to worship. What I would like to see is our church become the place to go to accomplish life. For example: Starbucks provides tables, chairs, coffee, free wifi, community, fellowship, servant hearts, in general a place to gather to accomplish whatever it is you need to that day. Why can’t we drive to our church and do this?
Can you offer examples or inspiring stories of some churches or communities that are engaged in holistic mission?
Within our community in Jessamine County, we are unknowingly witnessing God’s work take place. The coffee shop in town called J’s Place, what a place to go if you need to fellowship with God! Our new homeless shelter…But what I find interesting is it isn’t the normal church going community but an extra ordinary church willing to take the leap of faith and do God’s will!
I like to refer to Christians as the church. Many people refer to the church as the building they go to once or twice a week. But if we can remember that we are the church, then the holistic mission is easily accomplished through our relationships and activities. Why can’t we go to workout with the church? Why not have a cup of coffee at the church? Why not go to church for counseling? Why not go to the church for help? I would love to see a church building willing to open its doors to the church every day to be on a mission to using our whole bodies/lives to glorify God just as Adam and Eve before the fall. To walk with God in fellowship. To relate with God in community. Until then we have the church and the Holy Spirit.