As part of the Evangelical Alliance's Job Creation Project, I caught up with Rich Robinson, co-founder of Catalyse Change, to find out how his charity, and specifically its initiative CREO, might help Christian entrepreneurs create new employment opportunities amid the current unemployment crisis. Rich is based in Edinburgh with his wife Anna and three children, where he also does some work with their local church.

Rich: Catalyse Change has been set up to release kingdom potential’”

At the heart of Catalyse Change and CREO, the charity’s initiative for entrepreneurs, is the belief that God’s people are to embody and extend God’s kingdom now as in heaven, wherever God has placed them. Rich says, That might be how you parent, how you lead a team, how you create jobs. It’s spiritual, social and systemic change.”

Rich believes that the responsibilities we have in life are God-given, and as such we ought to view our jobs and businesses as gifts from God. That way, he says, we are more likely to seek to honour God in the way we work and approach job creation. 

Rich: This is why we set up CREO

CREO, which in Latin means to create’, exists to empower and equip Christian entrepreneurs to use their venture to bring about change for the common good. CREO help its entrepreneurs launch their idea, or scale and pivot if they’re already established, and Rich and his team journeys with them as they develop. 

CREO works with a range of entrepreneurs: They may be in their 20s with an integrated worldview that Sunday is just as important as Monday, a millennial who’s just starting out, or an organisation leader who’s stuck and needs to pivot,” says Rich. We work with different age groups, life stages and in different towns and cities around the UK and further afield. It’s a real mixture.”

Rich: Community is crucial”

Since being an entrepreneur can often be difficult, and sometimes lonely, CREO seeks to build a community of entrepreneurs so they can support and sharpen one another. 

Along with one-to-one coaching, Rich also runs group coaching sessions as well as cohorts of entrepreneurs. CREO currently has a Kenyan, Indian, and global cohorts. 

We try to do a lot which is communal and collaborative,” says Rich. If you look at the gospels, there weren’t many times Jesus ministered to individuals; we tend to learn better together than on our own.”

Rich: Jesus’ example and teaching has inspired CREO

Jesus didn’t do hit-and-run evangelism”, Rich points out. He dwelt among us; His message was spoken and demonstrated.” Rich says that it’s this approach that led to social transformation during Jesus’ earthly ministry, and that Christians today should learn from. 

So Rich wants Christians to partner with their city for social transformation. There are people in your church who have tremendous opportunity to bring kingdom transformation in your city, but often we’re too busy to notice,” he says.

Rich: The pandemic pushed entrepreneurs to act”

There were parts of CREO that were not affected by the pandemic. Rich says, We had created CREO to be accessible online by anyone, anywhere.”

Rich did, however, notice some difference to those who were signing up to their courses: The tenacity of the people involved increased. It went from those with a nice idea they might one day pursue, to those with a core business idea they needed to achieve. Some felt threatened with unemployment; the pandemic brought an urgency. Others had a need they knew they were meeting, but suddenly that need was much greater.”

Rich: Christ-like attributes and competency are needed for job creation”

Rich tells me that Christian entrepreneurs have to walk a fine line when seeking to create jobs, between making wise business decisions and trusting God in seeking to serve others. 

Money can be a driver, but it shouldn’t be a determining factor,” he says. That’s easy to say from a comfortable middle-class existence, but it’s true.”

Rich holds this view of money in tension with the fact that for the common good” to be advanced, ventures have to be financially sustainable. Whilst money shouldn’t be a primary motivation, we can’t tackle the unemployment crisis with bankrupted Christian entrepreneurs”. Rich said there has to be both Christ-like attributes and competency” when it comes to making financial decisions for a business, but that entrepreneurs tend to drift to one of these. 

We ask, How does faith sit at the centre of what you do?’ Or on the other hand, What is the problem you’re meeting, how will you provide jobs and advance the common good?’”

I know individuals who have chosen to employ somebody as an act of faith rather than choose the safe option – to wait until the pandemic is over. There is data to back up their choice, but it’s also faithful. There’s great stories of individual’s faith defining their work, and job creation coming as a by-product of that.”

Rich: There’s a formula for success”

With all of Rich’s experience, I wanted to know if he’d seen a pattern in new businesses that had flourished. 

There’s an intersection of passion and faith and a problem. It also works when people don’t try to do it by themselves; we’re designed to work in community.”

He also shares there are some vital questions that need strong answers for an idea to work: What is the value to the customer? What is the problem you are seeking to fix? Why does this need to exist?”

Takeaway

Rich explained so clearly how, as Christians, we cannot separate our professional lives from our faith. I believe connecting these dots is vital to equip Christians to be a voice for hope in the UK during this unemployment crisis. 

My conversation with Rich is the fourth in a series of interviews I have conducted with Christians in leadership as part of our Job Creation Project. The Evangelical Alliance seeks to encourage the church to step into the unemployment crisis wherever possible, to love our neighbour and demonstrate the character of God to our communities.

There’s great stories of individual’s faith defining their work, and job creation coming as a by-product of that.