Making a difference? : societal entrepreneurship and its significance for a practical theological ecclesiology in a local Western Cape context

Swart, Ignatius ; Orsmond, Edward (2011-10)

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This article is concerned with the question of whether and how a local church or congregation can, as indissoluble dimension of its vocation as a Christian faith agent, make a difference by influencing the dynamics of social and economic change that are transforming the face and structures of ‘traditional’ social and religious life in its community. Based upon the authors’ own interest in the specific context of the Dutch Reformed congregation of Simondium in the Western Cape and the case study work that they have conducted in this context, an argument about the potential role of this congregation is developed through the conceptual lens of ‘societal entrepreneurship’. After exploring some recent thoughts on this concept in the literature, the authors use the results of their recently conducted case study work to show how the dynamics of a new entrepreneurial drive amongst long-established residents and newcomers in the Simondium region shape the social reality of both the region and the congregation in a forceful way. This insight leads the authors to develop a sociologically and theologically motivated argument about the way in which this changing reality offers newfound opportunities to the Simondium congregation to fulfil its Christian calling. As such, the notion of becoming an ‘entrepreneurial church’ is introduced and a more detailed perspective is offered on those factors that a contextually orientated practical theological ecclesiology should take into account in building the entrepreneurial model in the congregation.

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