June 05th 2015

Entrepreneurship means breaking down temples and creating new space!

Reverend Jim Stewart, Church of Scotland, Minister of Letham St Mark’s Perth

What is a priest doing at the Entrepreneurial School®? With these words, MCI Rector Andreas Altmann welcomed Reverend Jim Steward within the framework of the MCI Alumni & Friends lecture series and introduced the guest as “one of the most entrepreneurial people” he had ever met.

In 1997 as Stewart took over the Minister of Letham St Mark’s, he was suddenly in charge of a parish that had been shattered and had lost contact to the community. Confronted with this problem, Stewart realized that the gap between the church’s vision and reality has widened, which potentially might have led to the collapse of his community. Similar to an enterprise, he faced the challenge to carefully develop a new vision with which his community could identify itself.

In this period of upheaval, Reverend Steward demonstrated effective change management. He found that sometimes one had to give up long-established patterns to create new ones. Driven by this enlightenment, he demolished the old community house because it wasn’t functional anymore and liquidated the parish’s assets. Furthermore, the management structure of his parish was changed, as it had not been flexible and functional enough to keep up with the fast changing society. Although he admits that some people will always be resistant to change, he turned his vision into reality by being passionate about what he was doing: Stewart created a new church center for his community, where today everyone is welcome without being judged.

With this example in mind, Reverend Steward encourages entrepreneurs to embrace changes and appeals to them to devote themselves to their visions, to make them happen, to struggle with them and to finally overcome their fears. “It takes an effort to create changes and they might cost us everything” he notes realistically. But it is worth taking the risk, if peoples’ life can be transformed for a betterment.

Concluding his presentation, Stewart confesses to be proud of being a part of the “world’s biggest franchise system, with a branch not only in every city but in every town”, and is confident that the church will manage to develop a new vision and provide people with stability in the future.

The event was chaired by MCI rector Andreas Altmann.