A new online conference, Christ in Business, aims to help a generation full of hopeful, would-be entrepreneurs build their own businesses and influence the world to the glory of God. However, some are worried the church is being left out of the "startup revolution," missing the chance to create opportunities for themselves and others.
The Christ in Business online conference was the brainchild of Michael Holmes, an author, speaker, and internet entrepreneur. He feels that in the face of high unemployment and more jobs moving into the internet space, young people familiar with online practices and marketing should invest their time in online startups.
"Millenials [ask], 'Why exactly do I need a [traditional] job?'" he explained to The Christian Post. He aims to give "young entrepreneurs in the faith actionable, practical guidance to success" via the experience of experts he assembled for the conference.
Holmes argues that younger people esteem "value, mission, and purpose behind their work" over simple job security in a field they may be unhappy in. "[There are] less barriers than 20 years ago … [to] creating a company that mirrors their values," he said.
Statistics agree with him. 14 million Americans are self-employed as of 2011, with the average freelancer's salary being $68,000- that's about $21,000 more than the national average, according to Credit Donkey. From 1990 to 2008, freelancing shot up 126 percent in some places.
So why aren't Christians taking advantage?
"With notable exceptions, startup incubators to build businesses- the church isn't up to it, it's taking time for them to catch up," said Holmes. Most churches traditionally think of Christian-owned businesses as brick-and-mortar buildings, with defined hours. He also thinks that the "generational gap regarding technology" steers older folks away from online business.
For the entrepreneur, many churches are missing out on a wealth of opportunity provided by startups and online business. Just take Rick Warren, who- after the success of his books, like "The Purpose-Driven Life"- donated back all of his years' salaries back to his church. That's a possibility for those who want to minister full time without necessarily accepting payment.
"Online business allows time for full-time ministry," said Holmes.
More opportunities abound once the church starts proverbially "teaching men to fish" through startups as well. Christians can "give something" to communities, "the church becomes more relevant," he said, and perhaps best of all, folks become self-reliant.
That is the focus of Holmes' Christ in Business conference, which goes from Aug. 13-17 and features a slew of successful entrepreneurs.
"Entrepreneurships and startups are the next move of God," said Holmes, who plans to "help startups to reach their God-given potential."