The Church is Open for Business

The Churchis Open for BusinessWe spend the majority of our waking hours at work between the ages of 20 and 70. Jesus was constantly entering into people’s work places and spaces – the fishing  pier, the market, the town square, the tax office. When we fail to show up and engage in the work place, we are missing an essential aspect of Jesus’ ministry strategy, and missing the opportunity to bless and be blessed by our neighbors.

Sometimes we can go to them, but we also have an opportunity to create a space where they will want to gather for work and community building.

Congregations have several elemental strengths when it comes to incubating small businesses:

  1. They are already physically present in communities.
  2. They are geographically close to individuals who are longing for greater meaning in their lives and a rewarding way to financially support themselves.
  3. They historically have a web of relationships with which to engage and collaborate
  4. They have property (buildings and land) which are often underutilized resources that can be leveraged for new and innovative projects.
  5. They may also have a tradition and a theology that encourages helping people to flourish and thrive in a holistic way – in every aspect of human life.

For more on this topic:
Small Business Incubators, Community Development, and the Church
Social Entrepreneurship on

iVM in the Spotlight

“You are not alone.”  

These life giving words are like cool water to a parched spirit for many who serve in ministry – both clergy and laity alike. Living one’s faith and spirituality by serving in ministry is an opportunity for incredible joy as we learn with, from and about other people. We can stretch ourselves as we lean into the places and situations that challenge us, perhaps even where we feel a sense of anxiety. Every day can bring new experiences and discoveries as we embrace Community, Loving God and Neighbor, and the Eucharistic Life – the three legged stool of discipleship that we seek to live at the Missional Wisdom Foundation.

And, it can be really tough. The Institute for Vital Ministry (iVM) was founded to meet people in the midst of their ministry and be “companions on the journey.” This companionship from iVM emerges primarily through coaching, pastoral care and spiritual direction offered to individuals, groups, and ministry teams. At the Missional Wisdom Foundation, we like to say “Go out. Go Deep. Go together.” Missional is always contextual, and it is always relational. For those of us raised and trained by and in the mainline Christian traditions, this sometimes comes as surprising good news. MWF seeks to respond to proclaim this good news in a variety of ways, including incubating other nonprofits whose vision is complementary to our core. The Institute for Vital Ministry is one such organization.

The founder, Ken Crawford, has served for over 25 years across multiple denominations and in ecumenical settings, both congregational and nonprofit. Through his own experience, and the research and observation of peers and colleagues, he has developed several resources and processes that support flourishing and wholeness for lay leaders and clergy. His most recent work has been with clergy who trained for and served in settled pastorates, but have found themselves drawn out into multivocal expressions of their ministry that include congregational, non-profit, for-profit, and social entrepreneurship settings.

At the center of all the work at iVM is an understanding of what we call a “Synchronous Life” – one in which individuals and groups are able to see and pursue wholeness across all of life. We help people move beyond surviving to thriving in ministry by integrating the life-giving energy available in each facet of life into a harmonized system. Too often we live siloed rhythms where our professional, personal and private lives do not overlap – if we can at all help it. Unfortunately, living this way is exhausting, and robs us of the gifts that each domain of life can offer to the rest of who we are and who we are called to be. Drawing upon the skills of coaching, pastoral care, and spiritual direction, working with individuals and groups, we are here to accompany you, because we believe that “wherever your road leads… you don’t have to travel alone.”

You can learn more about the work of iVM and Ken’s ministry at If you would like to explore working with a coach or spiritual director, please contact Ken at KCrawford(at)

* from the Missional Wisdom Foundation’s “Wisdom for the Way

ABOUT:  Rev. Ken G. Crawford serves on staff with the Missional Wisdom Foundation as a holistic leadership and life coach to the people who work at The Mix Coworking. He is also part of the leadership team for Anam Cara. Ken was fortunate to work under the guidance of Elaine Heath who served as his DMin thesis advisor. 

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Retreats for Ministry Leaders


What are you seeking from your retreat experiences?

I recall going on a clergy retreat after Easter several years ago. During a break one colleague asked me, “So, are you getting some rest?” “Oh no!” I exclaimed. “I don’t come to these for rest. If I want that, I go off by myself.” As a participant I find group retreats important and valuable, but interacting with groups of people is not restful – it takes work. My best rest is in solitude or with a very few intimates.

The event was well planned and well led, on the whole. During one session the facilitator invited us to share a struggle we had gone through. When it came my turn, I shared an interpersonal dynamic challenge through which I’d journeyed in the past year. Immediately my colleagues shifted into helping mode, and for the next 45 minutes attempted to diagnose, prescribe and fix whatever was broken. They reminded me of Job’s three friends (Job 4ff). Despite her best efforts the event leader had difficulty bringing the group back to focus – the purpose was never to elicit solutions to problems, but simply to bear witness to one another’s pain and experience the grace and mercy of knowing oneself in the midst of community of shared struggle on life’s journey.

So, I’m wanting to know what you are seeking when you go on retreat. What are the elements of an experience that are most important for you? Paint a picture in your mind of what will nourish you, personally and professionally, in whatever ways are most needed and wanted. What will help you to flourish? Then describe that preferred reality.

  • Renewal? Rest? Relationships? Resources? Reflection?
  • How do retreat and continuing education connect and relate for you?
    What is the overlap or distance between them?
  • Do you seek community or solitude, and in what measures?
  • Do you want an urban or rural setting, or does it matter?
  • What level of physical activity do you seek? (walk, exercise, etc?)
  • What kind of ritual experiences do you seek?
  • What expressions of spirituality do you seek?
  • Do you want to retreat with colleagues and friends, or do you prefer to meet new people and develop new relationships?

Additionally, there are logistical questions:

  • How long do you want / need to be away
  • If different, how much time can you afford to be away?
  • How much money do you have budgeted?
  • How far can / will you travel from home, and how do you prefer to travel (car, bus, train, plane, walking, hang glider, hot air balloon, tardis?

What other factors are important to you in a retreat experience?

I look forward to learning from you and exploring together how best to support ministry leaders through retreats and similar events.