Leen is an entrepreneur and director of ICP Europe in Rotterdam. He is married to Marleen and has four daughters; he unintentionally became a businessman, and at the moment he works with startups in Europe. It turns out that this has a lot to do with church planting. Four questions.

Why did you as a businessman partly switch to ICP?

After I sold my first company, in 2019, I slowly realized that life is more than working and making money. I enjoy being an entrepreneur. The people you meet, traveling, the excitement of the risks you take, thinking about strategies, etcetera. At the same time, I am very aware everything is finite. Recently, I heard an elderly Christian businessman say, “I am sure there is no money in heaven.” He is right, it is senseless to want to become the richest man at the cemetery. That is why I intend to spend half my time on other things than entrepreneurship. That is how I got involved with ICP in planting new church communities. I am deeply convinced communities are vital for society to function well. It is a kind of ‘home’ for people, a place of safety, identity, and recognition. Now that Europe is becoming more and more diverse in its population, I believe Christian faith can form an important connecting factor in the future. I see that in fact happening already in the intercultural congregation of Rotterdam, where I also am part of a community.

Are business and church planting not two separate worlds?

Now that I have been involved in the ICP work for one year, I am seeing many similarities between entrepreneurship and church planting. Both involve acting in surroundings full of uncertainty. You have to be creative, take risks, try things, make many contacts, and have a positive attitude about life. My work for startups and for ICP really do overlap. Of course, there also are differences. The church does not belong to the church planter, but to Jesus. It is a lot less man-made than a business. I believe, though, that leadership and levelheadedness are good qualities to be used in the church. In that sense, I will not overstate the differences.

What can a church planter learn from an entrepreneur?

Be creative. If plan A does not work, use plan B and then plan C. Do it step by step. Don’t go walking around distributing flyers all day in a different city or faraway land, just look for a job or start a business. Begin small, with a weekly meal or organize an Alpha Course.

Research what works and what does not. It is not smart to reinvent the wheel. Get trained and mentored by people who have done it before.

Suppose you and a team would start a church plant. What would this look like?

I like that question. First, I think I would look for a few good people to work with. I would make sure we have an awful lot of fun together. Hopefully, this would attract new people. Also, I would start small, with a few fun activities. I would use social media, organize something for the neighborhood, maybe do some volunteer work, be in prayer and be led by the Holy Spirit, become a member of a sports club, sign up with a church planting organization (such as ICP), provide enough income by working, so I can support myself without being dependent on others.

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