No matter how you frame it, probably, the ultimate goal of social enterprise is the transformation of people and/or place.
Of course, through the lens of the kingdom of God, that transformation has a profoundly comprehensive quality to it. A restoration of persons that includes relationship with God and inclusion in a community of God’s people is a central and overarching goal to be sure. But because this is all a work of transformation, Christians can celebrate any form of transformation as good. Because God is making everything new again in Jesus, then we can champion all kinds of ends as we work to create pathways for people and place to experience some kind of transformation.
There is a temptation in the church to pit spiritual transformation against transformation of other types; emotional, relational, vocational… One of the goals we have in CovEnterprises is to help us resist that notion by bringing together all these streams in the work we are doing. By engaging in kingdom saturated, community centered social enterprise; we have the opportunity to see transformation happening in every arena of life; in the lives of our neighbors and in the life of our neighborhood.
John Perkins always describes God’s shalom as the moment when ‘nothing is missing and nothing is broken.’ That is what we pursue in the neighborhood when we engage in enterprise and economic development. We want to cultivate the conditions for that reality to be able to take root.
Because our work is in the arena of economic development, that does mean that our effect will necessarily be economic, but it will not be merely economic. Its important from the start to think through our effect, our impact, in the neighborhood. As we said last time, starting with the impact we want to make in a community is the essential first work of social enterprise development.
When we say our goal is transformation of people and place, we have set the parameters for our work, but we have not yet been specific enough. What kind of transformation? What are concrete markers that will help us know if we are seeing some of the change we hope to see?
Over the next four blogs we will consider 4 major categories of community transformation (through the lens of economic development work) and name some of the ways we might name the impact we want to have as we consider launching social enterprise in the neighborhood.