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What is Ecclesiopreneurship?

Towards an Interdisciplinary Approach to Church Development, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Expertise

This site is dedicated to the growing international community of church developers, pastoral pioneers, founders of so called fresh expressions of church, leadership, strategists, consultants and other pastoral innovation experts as well as to the academic researchers dealing with the field of Ecclesiopreneurship and Ecclesiopreneurship Education. It is intended as starting point for a better understanding of what Ecclesiopreneurship in fact is and what not.

A working definition:
Ecclesiopreneurship is about recognizing, discovering, creating kair├│s.

The field of Ecclesiopreneurship describes both the practice and the scientific investigation and reflection on how and by whom, under what circumstances and with what effect pastoral opportunities for future actualizations of church are recognized, discovered, created, evaluated and used.

The term Ecclesiopreneurship is a compound of greek eccles├şa and english entrepreneurship, expressing an entrepreneurial perspective on pastoral matters of church development, in particular by pragmatistically applying entrepreneurial opportunity theory and practice to ecclesiologic concepts of kair├▓s and signs of the times.

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Ecclesiopreneurship ÔÇô a set of methods for church development

Ecclesiopreneurship offers a set of methods for new church starts, pastoral start-ups and innovation projects. Some call their ventures “Fresh Expressions of Church”. Tested and proven by hundreds of pastors, pastoral associates, deacons and other professional ecclesial ministers as well as volunteers the Ecclesiopreneurship toolset unites renowned management instruments as a reliable concept for church development:

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Starting Up

Ecclesiopreneurship offers postmodern Spirituality and Theology of Innovation, based in bible studies and Vatican II Theology as well as in pragmatistic epistemology.

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Cutting Edge Entrepreneurship

Effectuation is a well proven decision logic and set of methods for projects under complete uncertainty regarding means and ends. Effectuation allows non-entrepreneurs to act and decide entrepreneurial.

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The Language of Founders worldwide

The Ecclesiopreneurship Canvas method with dummies and prototypes for the development and testing of new ecclesial ventures is derived from successful concepts like The Lean Launchpad and Lean Startup.

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Reducing user-sided Uncertainties

The Brand Steering Wheel (Esch) as well as long established project managing and marketing strategies allow the successful refining and positioning of pastoral services.

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Making innovation sustainable

Servant Leadership and newest concepts from technology innovation management and organizational innovation culture stand for sustainable and innovation friendly environments.

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Ecclesiopreneurship is about systematically reducing flop-risks through co-creative innovation processes
with high user involvement.

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Ecclesiopreneurship offers an open interface to entrepreneurs and other innovation experts in our neighborhood. 

Ecclesiopreneurship ÔÇô combining proven concepts from leadership, innovation management and entrepreneurship research and practice

The concepts and theory behind Ecclesiopreneurship are not the result of some wild brainstormings at the creative department. Ecclesiopreneurship combines highly renowned and serious theories and methods from innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership research, organizational development, marketing and of course theology.

This has an enormous implication for church development: Instead of teaching your working partners and volunteers to think more theologically and pastorally you offer a conceptual environment that makes it easy to engage for exactly the people you need: Successful and motivated experts in entrepreneurship, start-up development, entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation management.

It is extremely motivating for volunteers to bring in their talents and their expertise. And it might also quite have an impact when people can say that they learned how to create a startup ÔÇô at church.

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Choosing the right strategy for your situation

Ecclesiopreneurship as a methodology starts with an evaluation of uncertainties as shown in the center of this diagram:

  1. You don’t know yet what to offer and for whom, you know neither means nor ends. Perhaps there is nothing more than a will to start something new. This means big uncertainties. Since you cannot plan an unforeseeable future you work means-oriented. Let’s call this the ideation part of innovation. A typical strategy here would be effectuation.
  2. You know either the means or the ends, either the product/service or the audience who’s needs or problems you want to access. We’ll call this the application part of innovation: It’s about testing new hypotheses regarding possible solutions. A perfect strategy here will be the canvas method with dummies and prototypes for testing.
  3. You have a clear and tested hypothesis about what to offer and for whom, thus know the means and the ends of your project. You question is, how to bring the product to the audience and how to reduce their uncertainties about what to expect from you. Let’s call this the diffusion part of innovation. A typical tool would be the brand steering wheel or project management.

Learning from the world outside.

The expertise neccessary for church development and pastoral innovation is already available out there. By learning the simplicity and effectiveness of tools from innovation and entrepreneurship you open your challenges and problems for the creativity of a neighborhood full of potential solvers.

That’s why Ecclesiopreneurship combines leading frameworks and methods from renowned research areas and authors in innovation theory, systematic and pastoral theology, entrepreneurship and leadership research.

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Effectuation

Since Saras S. Sarasvathy introduced Effectuation with her seminal and award winning publication in 2001, it has become a centerpiece of entrepreneurship research and education worldwide. In a single metaphor Effectuation is perfectly described with the famous fridge metaphor: Do you cook by the book or with what’s in your fridge? Effectuation is a specific decision logic derived from behavioral studies with successful entrepreneurs under complete uncertainty regarding means and ends.

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Business Model Innovation

The Ecclesiopreneurship Canvas method is directly derived from the Business Model Canvas described in the bestseller Business Model Generation by Yves Pigneur and Alexander Osterwalder, based on Osterwalder’s research about business models. Business Model Innovation ÔÇô strongly connected with names like Henry Chesbrough, Oliver Gassmann or Frank Thomas Piller ÔÇô is a dominant trend in management and consulting.

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Open Innovation

Open Innovation, scientifically linked to the innovation researcher Henry Chesbrough, has become a container term for concepts that involve customers, users and even uninvolved and unknown external partners as potential problem solvers. Open Innovation at it’s best can be found in strategies like idea contests, where organizations learn to granulate complexity into smaller problem packages for a so called┬ábroadcast search. One of the best introductions in German is the book “Interaktive Wertsch├Âpfung” by Ralf Reichwald and Frank T. Piller.

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Marketing and Brand Development

Even when church developers have developed precise ideas about what to do and for or with whom, they will have to deal with a much bigger uncertainty on the user side. Bringing pastoral innovations to life is very similar to service innovations. As shown profoundly by Ursula Hahmann, because services are not tangible (you cannot touch and test them like e.g. a new phone) they require a high amount of confidence. Service marketing teaches us how to communicate our ideas to our users in a way that helps them evaluate what to expect. This is extremely relevant for a better understanding of faith focussed innovations.

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Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Lean Launchpad

Connected for example to entrepreneurship experts like Eric Ries or Steven Blank there are a variety of  well proven concepts for product and service development, startup ventures and even organizational development, that have one thing in common: They maximize the contact with the customer beginning on day one. Creating innovation in the 21st century means working with dummies and prototypes, means asking customers about their opinion before going to serial production. This way you can reduce flop risks, but most of all: Theologically speaking this co-creative approach exposes the fact that church must fundamentally be thought as a co-creation (GS 44).

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User Innovation

The phenomenon and the concepts of User Innovation and especially the so called Lead User Innovation are connected most of all to the research and practice of Eric von Hippel.
Von Hippel is an american economist and innovation expert who teaches at the MIT Sloan School of Management, focussing on distributed and open innovation. Ecclesiopreneurship connects User Innovation to the theology of common priesthood and anonymous christianity (Rahner) as well as it interprets Churchplanters and founders of Fresh Expressions of church as Lead Users who improve their ecclesial professions instead of waiting for someone else to do it.

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Entrepreneurial Opportunity Theory

For decades entrepreneurship research had been focused on trait theories, reflecting on skills and characteristics of good entrepreneurs, thus focussing on the person of the entrepreneur. In the 1990s there happened an important change of perspective, putting the entrepreneurial opportunity in the center of attention. This change in entrepreneurship research was coined by a seminal article by Senkaran Venkataraman┬áabout “The distinctive Domain of Entrepreneurship Research” (1997). The opportunity approach got famous with Venkat’s award winning publication together with Scott Shane under the title “The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research” (2000). Pastoral Theology gains an enormous inspiration from a combination of opportunity theory with the theology of kair├│s and the so called signs of the times.

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Innovation Management

Studying innovation in practice and research there is a clear indication that innovation is a bottom-up phenomenon requiring organizations to involve the users (customers) in the design process. At the same time it is clear that there is a need for innovation management to simply raise the chances that new things can happen. Innovation management reduces cannibalization effects (“old cannibalizes new”) and thus is something different than change management.

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Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership, coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in 1970 as a leadership philosophy combining exemplary servantship and leadership has become one of the leading ethical and resource oriented leadership concepts. Around the year 2000 leadership researchers like Robert C. Liden (US), Dirk van Dierendonck (NL) or Armin Bircher Verdorfer (DE) have provided a profound and multilingual measurement instrument for Servant Leadership behavior. This younger research of the last two decades makes Servant Leadership both a spiritually attractive leadership philosophy and a reliable leadership concept for successful organizational development.

“We need more of the crazy ones to develop new expressions of church” (Rev. Volker Roschke, Berlin)

“I agree, Mr. Roschke ÔÇô but we also need professionals who can work together with the crazy ones” (Prof. Medart Kehl SJ, Frankfurt)

The Ecclesiopreneurship Canvas, English Prototype

Together with some wonderful colleagues at the Institute for Pastoral Studies (IPS) at Loyola University Chicago we developed this prototype of our english Ecclesiopreneurship Canvas. A more detailed version is already in the pipeline and should be out by April 2019.

The Ecclesiopreneurship Canvas, Dutch Version

Together with the Research Unit of Pastoral and Empirical Theology at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at Catholic University Leuven (Belgium) we developed this wonderful dutch version of the Ecclesiopreneurship Canvas for pastoral pioneers in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Ecclesiopreneurship Canvas, German Version

The german version of the Ecclesiopreneurship Canvas was developed as part of a research project with Center for Applied Pastoral Theology (Zentrum f├╝r angewandte Pastoralforschung / ZAP) at Ruhr University Bochum and the Diocese of Aachen, Germany. It is the result of more than 10 years active practice, consulting and research in pastoral innovation and new church starts.

Please help us with your opinion.

Which translation of the Founders' Handbook for pastoral startups should be next?
Which translation of the ecclesiopreneurship canvas should be next?

Ecclesiopreneurship: A growing community of users, enablers and experts.

Ecclesiopreneurship has been a leading and growing trend for pastoral innovation.

Hundreds of pastoral practitioners, strategists and consultants have successfully started working especially with Effectuation and the Ecclesiopreneurship Canvas method. This method has become one of the de facto standards for a systematic design of pastoral innovations and pioneer ministry. The following map marks some of the dioceses, educational and research institutes as well as different denominations in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and even the United States that have introduced Ecclesiopreneurship in their fields.

Institute for Pastoral Studies, Loyola University

Universit├Ąt Z├╝rich

Bistum Aachen

Gr├╝ndertraining f├╝r Seelsorger*innen 2012, 2014, 2017, 2019

Bistum Innsbruck

Bistum W├╝rzburg

KU Leuven

Erzbistum K├Âln

Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum

Bistum Linz

Bistum Limburg

Bistum M├╝nster

Bistum Trier

Bistum Mainz

YOT Brugge

Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland

Erzbistum M├╝nchen-Freising

Erzbistum Paderborn

Bistum Essen

Bistum Speyer

Bistum Speyer und BDKJ Speyer

Bistum Fulda

Evangelische Landeskirche W├╝rttemberg

Erzbistum Hamburg

Bistum Rottenburg-Stuttgart

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Literature

For the convenience especially of the researchers and students here are some starting points.

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  • Sobetzko, F. (2017). ÔÇ×Wie gr├╝ndet man ein Gr├╝ndertraining?ÔÇť ÔÇô Das Aachener Gr├╝ndertraining f├╝r SeelsorgerInnen als Prototyp kirchlicher Innovationsdidaktik. Gr├╝nderhandbuch f├╝r pastorale Startups und Innovationsprojekte. F. Sobetzko and M. Sellmann. W├╝rzburg, Echter Verlag.
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  • Zinkl, G. (2011). Zwischen Heilssakrament und Management. Die ├ämterstruktur der katholischen Kirche aus der Perspektive des Kirchenrechts und der Organisationslehre, Universit├Ąt Regensburg.
  • Coon, Christian (2017). Failing Boldly. How Falling Down in Ministry Can Be the Start of Rising Up.
  • Nixon, P. (2006). I refuse to lead a dying church! Cleveland, Ohio, Pilgrim Press.
  • Sobetzko, Florian (2017). Stille W├Ârtchen. Von Null auf Gott in 90 Sekunden. Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau.
  • ┬á
  • Joas, H. (1992). Die Kreativit├Ąt des Handelns, Suhrkamp Frankfurt aM.
  • Joas, H. and J. Beckert (2001). Action Theory. Handbook of Sociological Theory. J. Turner, Springer US: 269-285.
  • Peirce, C. S. (1976). Schriften zum Pragmatismus und Pragmatizismus, herausgegeben von Karl-Otto Apel und ├╝bersetzt von Gert Wartenberg.
  • Reichertz, J. (2013). Die Abduktion in der qualitativen Sozialforschung: ├╝ber die Entdeckung des Neuen, Springer-Verlag.

The author of this page

Florian Sobetzko is a pastoral associate with almost 20 years of experience in ecclesial ministry, specialized on youth and young adult pioneer ministry. From 2012 to 2017 he served as personnel developer and innovation evangelist in his diocese, since 2013 he has been a associate researcher at Center for Applied Pastoral Research at Bochum University. Since about 2010 he has been freelancing as innovation expert, trainer and consultant with his small venture Ecclesiopreneurship Education, teaching hundreds of strategists and practitioners internationally.

More info: http://www.sobetzko.de

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Impressum

Ecclesiopreneurship Education
Florian Sobetzko
Eupener Str. 130b
D-52066 Aachen
Germany
Europe

florian@sobetzko.de
Tel. +49-241-99711500

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Books and Posters

Order Gründerhandbuch and ready printed Ecclesiopreneurship Canvas Posters online at gruenderhandbuch-seelsorge.de.

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