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Glean: What's in a Name?



In the fields of ancient Israel, farmers would harvest their crops as needed, and leave the remnants so that anybody in the community could glean and eat. Lean year or fat, everybody ate. And yet in today’s world in which religion is - by far - the biggest business, spiritual entrepreneurs are often on the outside looking in. They have limited access to the intellectual and financial resources that would enable their ventures to serve the growing populations of those who seek new forms of engagement with their faith and spirituality.

But Glean Incubator is about so much more than picking up the pieces left behind by American religion’s $1.2 trillion annual harvest (which, by the way, is bigger than the “global annual revenues of the world’s top ten tech companies, including Apple, Amazon, and Google”). At its heart, entrepreneurship is about finding value where others have passed over it, intentionally or not. Spiritual entrepreneurs -- those rooted in faith and spiritual practice -- tend to discover this untapped value by leaving doctrine, dogma, and hierarchical authority behind and embracing curiosity, openness, and the spirit of possibility.

Person by person, iteration by iteration, our entrepreneurs glean stories, insights, and values from those they seek to serve, and build those into the ethos of each of their ventures.

Just as the Lean Startup movement trains entrepreneurs to think big, test small, and listen attentively to the voice of the customer, Glean’s startups also privilege people over programs, and our spiritual entrepreneurs are constantly iterating as a result of on-going, sacred conversations with those they seek to serve.


Lastly, we think of gleaning as an act of love. One of the great love stories of the Bible - between Ruth and Boaz - began with the act of gleaning the fields (Book of Ruth, Chapter 2). Our hope is that our own shared “gleanings” will equip a generation of spiritual entrepreneurs to more wholeheartedly love the problems they’re trying to solve, the constituencies they aim to serve, and the world they dream of bettering.


Read the full January Gleanings here.