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Church Incubator? Co-working? Huh?

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

What exactly is a co-working space?

This is a question I have consistently gotten since returning to the States for our home assignment. The basic premise of co-working are simple. Co-working is an arrangement in which workers of different companies share an office space, allowing cost savings and convenience through the use of common infrastructures, such as equipment, utilities, and receptionist and custodial services, and in some cases refreshments and parcel acceptance services. Of course, after explaining the terminology inevitably the next question is:

What does this business have to do with missionary work?

It all started with a burden that we first heard about and then witnessed first-hand.

Church planters and pastors are not free to shepherd and lead their churches in true Gospel-driven worship. They have to have a full-time job outside of the ministry to pay the bills and support their families. Another challenge pastors face is the cost, upkeep, and logistical challenges of having a building for the community. The churches are empty a significant percentage of the week. A Pew-Center survey revealed 31% of 18-49-year olds are attending church a few times a year. The majority of churches frequented are merely parking places for our spiritual shot on Sunday mornings but not centers for our community.

In unfolding Scripture, the story begins in a garden and ultimately ends in a city. Sin entered the world distorting God’s creation leaving mankind in desperate need of redemption. Jesus Christ is that redemption, making all things new by his Spirit which dwells in the hearts of His people. Our idea started out as a way to create a collaborative environment meant to be a CATALYST for the local church AND the community AND be self-sustaining. Our mission has always been to start and strengthen healthy church plants in Barranquilla, Colombia and South America that are advancing God’s Kingdom through the power of the Gospel message.

So God gave us a plan! We wanted to create a place and a program that pastors and church planters (a fancy word for pastors that believe in starting new churches) could utilize a space that would be either low-cost or free, connect with the community, and support them financially while allowing them to spend the quality time in professional development and loving on their congregations. With that, Co.Laborwas born. The Nest is a co-working space provider. Co-working was the perfect fit for what we were trying to achieve. Why? At the heart of co-working is the desire to be in community. A community of business owners, entrepreneurs, and employees from diverse backgrounds working in the same space that have an open mind toward collaboration. If you don't know what co-working is, take a look at this link to find out more. Or you can check out Remote Job Tips to see why co-working is such an advantage for some groups of workers/business owners/entrepreneurs.

Co.Labor is a for-profit business. It is meant to have clients, offer extraordinary services, and bring in enough revenue that we can create the church incubator program for the church planters and pastors in the city. The incubator, we will get to in a moment. The Nest will look, walk, and talk like a traditional co-working space (with obvious perks to set it apart from the competition!) during the week. However, on weeknights and weekends, it will pivot to be more community and ministry focused. The first way that is accomplished is to have small group classes that revolve around the needs of the community. Classes that impact people's lives from a financial, marital, and parenting perspective. They are for the community and for those attending church. These are meant to be classes that bring the community within our walls. It is a no-pressure environment that inspires, educates and connects people to Jesus Christ through non-traditional ways. The second way is to give space on the weekend to the pastors and church planters for them to have actual church services. This way they aren't having to worry about logistics and all the other stressors of maintaining their own building and space initially.

The church planter's incubator is a unique concept. The incubator model allows for a new church plant to become self-sufficient spiritually and financially. This incubation period is set to allow a window of success for a pastor and regular attenders. The period can range from 1 to 2 years. The goal is to “incubate” church plants and planters in order to give them a year to be equipped and shepherded by experienced pastors. This will allow the local planter a viable pathway to spiritual, financial, and operational success. The year-long intensive will allow the planters to avoid the concerns of personal funding and rent for their church site at the same time learning within a group of 6-8 others in the same phase of planting. The program will focus on not only theological training but also working through church administration, evangelism, and community development. It is a unique way to not only train these pastors in the community but really empower them to take the Gospel to different parts of the community to see more churches started.

There are many details that come with running a for-profit business along with a non-profit ministry. I am continually praying for God to build me up professionally and spiritually to take on the challenges. We believe that God gave us this concept to impact church planters and marketplace trailblazers who are stepping out in faith. This concept is creating a “new frontier” of ministry/missions. Now we can impact 100s and even 1000s of lives through the Nest and empower so many to hear the Word of God in our cities.

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