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21stCPioneers 24621st Century Pioneers: Faith, enterprise & social purpose 

From a report by Jubilee Centre

The Jubilee Centre, a national Christian ‘think and do’ tank, have launched a new report, '21st Century Pioneers: Faith, enterprise & social purpose'.

The report celebrates how purpose-driven businesses and social enterprises are pioneering new ways to make this country – and the world – a better place. The report also highlights the active role that Christians are playing in this.

In one of the largest studies of its kind undertaken in the UK, the research found Christians playing a key role in purpose-driven businesses and social enterprises of all sizes, from almost every region of the UK and across a wide range of sectors – from community farms to recycled fashion manufacturers to law firms.

Enterprise and business are very important to the UK; three out of four jobs in this country are in the private sector. There is much that needs to change in the way that we do business – but there is good news; change has already started. The research shows how a growing number of businesses and social enterprises are showing how we can create and grow enterprises which are good for our families, communities, our nation and our planet.

The role that Christians play in enterprise is often low profile within the Church, but their impact is significant. The Jubilee Centre conducted this study because it believes it is time for the Church to recognise that enterprise can be a force for good, and that many Christians have a key role to play in making this happen.

The report is a call to action – based on the evidence of what is already being done - a call for Christians to be at the forefront of social change in the UK.

The report’s message to the Church is:

  • Enterprise can be a force for good. We have the power to act.
  • Working in business is a vocation for many – the work of many Christians in the private sector is their vocation; it is their mission and maybe even their life’s work. They need to be affirmed and supported in this.
  • We need a vision for ‘good business’ – there is much to celebrate but we know there is also much further to go and much work still to be done. A biblical vision of our economy will challenge and inspire us as we work out what ‘good’ really means today.
  • Renewal is happening today – it is time to stop the nostalgia for the reformers of the past, and instead recognise the work being done by the reformers of our own generation. There is more to celebrate today than many perhaps realise. These reformers also need support – and there are surely more who should be joining them.

We want to see a wave of cultural renewal in the marketplace which will reshape the UK for good.

The report builds on a previous work entitled ‘Beautiful Enterprise’ which sets out a vision for ‘good business’. It identified a set of seven principles, drawn from biblical reflection, for how businesses might deliver greater economic justice, a strong society and environmental flourishing. The seven principles are summarised here:
  1. Purposeful Enterprise – ‘a good business has a social purpose which it delivers well’
  2. Dignified Work – ‘a good business offers dignified work’
  3. Fair Pay – ‘a good business pays its workers fairly and honestly’
  4. Relational Capital – ‘a good business uses capital in a fair and relational way’
  5. Rooted Communities – ‘a good business contributes to rooted community’
  6. Fair Taxation – ‘a good business pays its fair share of taxes’
  7. Environmental Stewardship – ‘a good business promotes environmental flourishing in its approach to using resources’

One of the businesses featured in the report is Ethical Addictions, an ethical coffee roasting company based in Gloucester that trades directly with farmers in Brazil and Tanzania. Ian Meredith, Head Bean of Ethical Addictions, said "How we run our business really matters. How I buy my coffee, even how I buy my cleaning products matters, because it has an impact on the planet and on other people. So, if I can do that in a better way - even if only makes a small difference - the difference it makes to the families who benefit, like those in Tanzania who now have clean water as a result of our investments - is enormous. That impact is rewarding and it’s good. And, honestly, as a follower of Jesus, if I know there is a better way to do this, how can I not do it that way?" See previous Word on the Streets blog Ethical Addictions.

Tim Thorlby, Director of the Jubilee Centre, said: "This report celebrates the role that Christians are playing in making purpose-driven business a reality in the UK today. For the Church, enterprise is on the frontline for mission – making the world a better place. We want to help the Church to understand this, support those on the frontline and inspire more to join in. Then we will see a new generation of 21st Century pioneers and reformers delivering a wave of renewal that will comprehensively reshape our marketplace for good.”

Download the report here.

See these blogs for ideas on how to affirm those in the congregation in business; Five ways church leaders can teach that work matters, Commissioning people for the workplace, Transforming work - small group resource, Thank God It's Monday.

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From a report by Jubilee Centre, 07/07/2022

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