The application for Cycle 2 of the Co-Creators Incubator is now open through December 7, 2020. Visit to apply. 

Trend #4: Christ-propelled ventures occupy liminal space between for-profit, faith-based nonprofit sectors

By the Rev. Rebecca Driscoll

It is often the case that Christ-centered ventures fall in the space between for-profit and faith-based nonprofits. Over time, a dichotomy has been created such that entrepreneurial ideas that have a Christ-centered grounding have been rejected by for-profit and faith-based nonprofit sectors alike. New ventures are either viewed as faith-based or secular, and there is little space for overlap. 

In my experience working with secular nonprofit organizations focused on alleviating hunger and food insecurity, there was a worry that, as a Christian, I might try to proselytize. They did not want my faith life to get in the way of accomplishing their mission and goals. However, there was also push back from the Christian communities, with whom I shared my passion for eliminating food insecurity and environmental degradation. It was difficult for them to see the relevance of creation justice to their present faith life or to scripture. Creation justice also did not seem to fit into normal Sunday morning worship routines.  

Rigid church schedules meant that I had to become creative in the ways that I presented creation justice ministry to the congregations I served. I began by making connections and forming partnerships with programs that my congregations already knew and supported, such as the daily hot meals served in our city. I was then able to suggest that one congregation begin to grow a garden on their property and donate the harvested produce to the daily meal program. Planting the garden helped us talk about the significance of gardens and agriculture in scripture and the importance of caring for the environment. 

This process was multi-step, but it still did not lead directly to congregational affirmation of creation justice ministry. They also did not continue to plant the garden after I left for a different call. It was difficult to gain traction with the congregation when exploring new ways to be the church. 

It was not until I came across American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ Co-creators Incubator Grant that I had the opportunity to really invest resources into what a more robust creation justice ministry could look like in the American Baptist denomination as well as for its local churches.  As we continue to see changes in local congregational ministry, grant opportunities are becoming more important to affirm, support and give credibility to the new ways we can be the hands and feet of Christ in the world today. There was not only financial support, but also the Co-Creators Incubator Grant provided mentors, networking opportunities, brainstorming sessions and spiritual grounding.

Incubator and start-up generators create a net, filling the liminal space among the for-profit and nonprofit sectors and faith-based nonprofits. With incubators and start-up generators, new ministry entrepreneurs have the safe space they need to experiment with and roll out their Christ-propelled ventures. The Christian community needs new spaces to explore and new ways to be the church in the world today.  

The Rev. Rebecca Driscoll’s creation care project grew into a position as minister for Creation Justice with American Baptist Churches USA’s Office of the General Secretary.