Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spiritual Entrepreneurs


I have a number of friends that are entrepreneurs.     Entrepreneurs run in our family and that is likely why I have an appreciation for people of like mind.  While we often think of entrepreneurs as people that risk capital to start their own businesses, there are other types of entrepreneurs that are looking to transform people, not just their personal economic conditions.
We need more people to consider becoming spiritual entrepreneurs. Spiritual entrepreneurs desire to be personally involved in the fulfillment of both the Great Commandment (love one another) and the Great Commission (make disciples). This has been the general charge given not to an institution called the church but the people that are followers of Christ.
Entrepreneurs are not satisfied with the status quo; they have an emotional desire to innovate, to change, to challenge. They are also highly resourceful, finding innovative ways to do more with less; they create enterprise, they build teams and organizations and grow-grow-grow!
In the 1950s a number of great men came on the scene and began a revolution within the church. Bob Pierce started World Vision; Bill Bright started Campus Crusade; James Rayburn started Young Life; and Billy Graham began his crusades. They were all entrepreneurs. Under-resourced and passionate, they were driven to change not only a nation but the world. They succeeded beyond what others could have even hoped. They operated outside of the traditional denominational walls and created a movement.
Today, when a pastor decides to start a church from scratch, or a church announces a new campus and appoints a campus pastor, an entrepreneur fills the role.  These small, struggling and modest beginnings are not only led by entrepreneurs but also need individuals, couples and families to join them as spiritual entrepreneurs. These pastors need people that can come alongside them, sometimes even pick up and move their residence and find creative ways to do ministry and to challenge the status quo.  Our communities are full of people that don’t know they desperately need God, don’t know there is so much more to life than what they are experiencing, don’t know that there are only two options that are available to them: life and death.
It’s likely more comfortable to fit in to growing churches, to follow well-established pathways and rely on contemporary but still conventional growth strategies.  The spiritual entrepreneur, however, will find great satisfaction in challenging conventional thinking and will need to rely on the power, wisdom and strength of God.
Reprint from Church Executive May 2012   www.churchexecutive.com 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Forever Home


My wife and I are fans of rescue shelters.  In particular, we are fans of dog rescue shelters.  We have had the opportunity to adopt a number of dogs over the past fifteen to twenty years and enjoy being able to give a perfectly good dog a pretty good home.

What is interesting to me when I get a chance to talk with these rescue people is how passionate they are about the rescue process.   The term they use pretty universally for their ultimate goal for these neglected, sometimes abused and often suffering dogs is that they are in search of their "forever home".

I love that term as it explains the contrast between the typical story of the dog's life to date and the opportunity that is included in this package called a 'forever home'.

Just like these dogs-in-need, we are all in need of being rescued.  Our story is not unlike some of these dogs.    None of these dogs really have the ability to go-it-on-their-own.  They are all in need of someone to care for them, to love them and to protect them.   In the same way, the Bible says we will never be 'good enough', we all have a need to be rescued.  For us, being rescued is being lifted up and out of our human condition and being placed, or rescued, in a new home.  A home that is filled with unconditional love by a God that is kind and just and far greater than we are.

Ultimately, all of us will find our forever home.  For many of us it will be heaven.  Just like these real homes that are available for a number of dogs, heaven is a real place.  Unlike what is often portrayed, the Bible doesn't describe heaven as a swing or permanent perch on some cumulus cloud in the sky.  The Bible says that Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, Paul was caught up to the third heaven and the Apostle John saw a door standing open in heaven and a throne and heavenly beings with crowns.   Jesus promised before He went to the cross that He would prepare a place for us, a forever home.

For some of us our forever home may not be heaven.  While it is unfortunate that all dogs are not rescued, all of us have the opportunity to find the eternal place of kindness and unconditional love.   Fortunately for us, the price has been paid, we need only to believe.   "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  (John 3:16)


Friday, May 04, 2012

What's Your Legacy?

This week, our men's group finished our last session and also finished Coach Tony Dungy's Quiet Strength study with the lesson, "What is Your Legacy?"

Our group consists of seven, sometimes as many as nine men, who have been meeting for the past four months.   One of the things we do on a regular basis is find out if there are anything we can pray about and one of the prayers requested a few times was from our friend Bruce who asked that we pray for his son Devin who was recently deployed to Afghanistan.

Before our lesson started this week, Bruce was excited to show us this picture.  We had heard that President Obama had flown to Afghanistan and Bruce was earnestly watching CNN to see if he could possibly catch a glimpse of his son in the crowd.   To his surprise and delight, Bruce saw his son, Tech Sergeant Devin, standing with the President (Devin is the young man directly to the left of the President in the picture).

It was a great start to our last lesson on leaving a legacy.  Tony Dungy said that "everything we do adds an element to the story we leave behind".  Bruce (the father) served in the Police Department  for 41 years.   He has left a legacy of service. His oldest son served in the NYFD.  His daughter, Danielle, worked as a 911 operator for the Suffolk County Police Department, and his younger son, Darren also serves in the United States Air Force.

The legacy we leave behind is not about money. It's all about the values, faith, character and integrity.   When we have faith, when we know that we are in need of a Savior and we embrace Jesus, we have the opportunity to leave behind the greatest legacy of all.

Coach Dungy is correct; everything we do adds an element to the story we leave behind.  What are you leaving behind?   If you know Jesus and the Holy Spirit lives in you there is a great hope.  The Apostle Paul writes about this legacy in his letter to the Galatians, " But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law." (Gal 5:23)




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Our small Christian non-profit ministry recently requested and received approval from the IRS to be re-classified as a ‘church’.      ...