Business Breakfast
Monday 2nd July 2018

Calling & Gifting in the Work Place, an IKEA Story

This Monday at Business Breakfast we were privileged to be joined by Remco and Jane Hempenius. Jane is a HR Consultant and Remco has held many senior positions in IKEA around Europe, both have been part of Vineyard Churches in Europe for over 20 years. 

Remco described IKEA’s very successful history. It is a foundation so all surpluses go into social causes, it seeks a strong and sustainable business model, and invests in its people and communities. Current challenges include how furniture is given a second and third life, and how the business moves away from large out of town warehouse units, into town and city centres and on-line. 

In recent years Remco described the revelation that leading in business is his calling and where his gifting is expressed most effectively. We can take a dualistic approach to our lives, work is work, and Church/ministry is where we express our Christian gifts. Remco has increasingly sought to use his gifts in the work place. Biblical principles call us to be servant leaders, to invest in others, to focus on people, and seek the prosperity of the business. As a store manager Remco takes his responsibility for the lives of 350 employees very seriously, and knows he is stewarding their lives and the lives of their families. Names matter to Remco, who are 'his' people, to illustrate this, beyond normal line management, Remco commits to 45 minutes each month of personal time with each of his senior managers - life stuff, health, family, fun; he asks those senior managers to have 30 minutes with each of their staff, and in turn that they have 10 minutes of personal time with each of the front-line staff. 

Turnover and business outcomes are the fruit of this personal investment. A turn around in staff satisfaction has brought dramatically improved customer satisfaction and neighbourhood satisfaction, and finally profit. Trust is not naïve, colleagues must still do their jobs well, trust has led to people working to their best, in their strongest ways. Remco describes times when it has been like having the Spirit of God present in the work place, working for good amongst the team. It is a common practice to give a gift on leaving an IKEA store, Remco was able to give a Bible to each colleague as a gift, the engagement with the gift reflected the quality of relationship already built, and touched people deeply. 

Business Breakfast
Monday 4th June 2018

The Church & Strategic Aims for the Region

At this Business Breakfast we reviewed the strategic aims for the West Midlands as described by the Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority, details of which can be found here -

We considered what stood out to us from the strategic objectives and then how and where the Church stands in those areas; this included:-

  • Zero Youth Unemployment, with a clear need for work experience places, mentors and entry positions with prospects. The Church Office regularly hosts short and long-term work experience and volunteering with a commitment to developing skills through this. Our Catalyst event for students helps them engage with people in work and connects to mentoring, as well as helping students stay in Birmingham while looking for work. We as a Church seek to contract with businesses that have good values, including working with Jericho.
  • Housing, around the table we reflected the boom in businesses coming to or growing in the region, and the pressure that puts on housing. We discussed Springboard Mortgages as a means to enable deposits to be paid, and Green Pastures ethical investments. We reflected on the number of people engaged in projects like Nightstop, Supported Lodgings, Refugees at Home, and Churches Nightshelter.
  • Transport, especially pinch points around stations and parking. What does generosity of spirit look like when considering parking and congestion?
  • Mental Health, we were surprised, but grateful to see the prominence given to assisting those with poor mental health. An ambition for zero suicide deaths, 50,000 trained in Mental Health First Aid, both of which challenge and inform us as Christians in protecting the most vulnerable.

Work & City + Careers Catalyst Evening
Monday 5th March 2018

"Are these the droids you're looking for...?"

The future of work and careers

Doing life well includes our work and careers. Many people currently say that the future of work and careers will be vastly different than anything we've seen to date. This evening we looked at those predictions for the future of work and their implications. Matt Williams, CEO of Top Retail Ltd talked about his career and about his multiple ventures into online sales businesses. Finally there was an opportunity for students and others to engage with people from a range of sectors with wisdom and support to share. 

Steve's slides are here.

Matt's slides are here.
Due to a technical error the recording of Matt's talk ends a couple of minutes early, but the bulk of his story is available.

Business Breakfast
Monday 5th February 2018

This morning as part of our Business Breakfast, Stephen Sellers led us in thinking about 'Living Life Well: Ambition in the Workplace'

Stephen began by challenging us with a quote - “When your memories are more exciting than your dreams, you’ve begun to die” H Dale Burke

We then thought about the experience of Caleb, how he managed ambition, setbacks and his own learning and growth.

Caleb was 40 years old when he went to spy out the land. He reported according to his “convictions” and followed God “wholeheartedly”. Moses promised him an inheritance where his feet had walked. Caleb was 85 when he reached Canaan. He shared in the wilderness wanderings although he was not responsible for them. He asked Joshua for a mountain, for more battle and not a place of rest because he was just as strong as he was 40 years ago. (Joshua 14)

  • What is the difference between a dream and an ambition?
  • Are lifetime ambitions any longer realistic in the workplace? 
  • What is it like when your ambition for the business is not shared?
  • How does it help to share your dreams or ambitions?
  • What can hold us back in seeing them through?
  • How do we handle dreams when they are dashed? 

Stephen concluded with two questions from Pete Scazzero:-

  • Ask yourself: "What is Jesus' dream for you?"
  • Ask Jesus: “What do you want me to do for you?”

Business Breakfast,
Monday 7th November 2017

This Monday morning our discussion was proceeded by a synopsis of Rutger Bregman's book, 'Utopia for Realists: And How We Can Get There', a short TED Talk version of which can be viewed below. The  conversation spanned values, choices and behaviours, in areas of global development, aid, economics and generosity.

We reflected that while in Luke 4 Jesus declares that 'God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God's year to act!" ' (msg).

Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 61, where we find an even fuller list of ways in which the Message of good news would be preached - 'rebuild the old ruins', 'hire outsiders to herd your flocks and foreigners to work your fields', 'I'll pay your wages on time and in full', and 'Your children in foreign countries will be recognised at once as the people I have blessed'. 

We reflected from the story of Ezekiel that some times it takes revelation about a situation to unlock it, in that case understanding how Israel were breaking God's covenant, and needed to repent. Bregman contends that global development in the last 200 years means that for us in the West, health, longevity, education, choice, safety, are at a level that would be unrecognisable to earlier generations, and would appear utopian. This is a challenge when we think about generosity, sacrifice and need, while we have such surplus as a society and individuals. 

Jesus and Paul were able to minister it would appear at times thanks to the generosity of wealthy benefactors who made possible their travels and sustenance. 

As we participate in this period where the challenge is 'generous living' exemplifying that in our work and behaviour is a challenge. We need revelation to understand as we wrestle with the hard questions, a willingness to have everyone participate and grow and a commitment to being generous.

Work & City Forum,
Monday 30th October 2017

This evening we heard an introduction from Steve Philpott, which included reflections on the work of Adam Grant, on the effect of generosity in the work place. You can watch Adam Grant speaking at a TED talk below.

We also heard from Steve Bavington, Director at Chaplaincy Plus, about how we can make relationships at work effective as Christians and colleagues.

Lastly Iain Dougall, Head of Operations at Office of the Public Guardian, spoke about 'Surviving and Thriving' in the work place.

Listen to the talks below.

Steve's slides are HERE


Iain's slides are HERE