Most churches have a hard time getting entrepreneurs, like me, to join their mission and vision. We are either running from church or passively sitting in pews on Sunday. We have gifts and strengths to offer, but they lay dormant in the local church. Why? It isn’t for a lack of asking. Pastors frequently attempt to pull the business owners in, but are met with, “I’m too busy.” Excuses like these are usually a cloud of smoke to mask the true objections. My hope is to help shed some light on what lies beneath the “I’m too busy” objection.
A Big Problem
First, entrepreneurs are not more important or better than the rest of the church. However, we can all agree that the entrepreneur is usually a pretty odd specimen with unique gifts and abilities. The church can’t afford to have anyone’s gifts sidelined. The mission of the church is too important to miss out on a single part of the body. What does it say about our church if a fraction of its gifts go unused, unengaged?
The entrepreneur is not super human, but they usually have a ton of capacity, they aren’t scared of risk, they love thinking outside the box, and they don’t mind submitting to leadership. What’s really interesting is that if they find something they are sold out for, they’ll call others to join them. They can become a huge ally for the church to aid in the understanding of making disciples who make disciples. The problem is that for many years the entrepreneur has been told to “fit into this box” or go elsewhere. Many have. Many entrepreneurs have decided to fulfill the great commission through parachurch organizations and nonprofits. I understand why.
What if you were a baseball player and were continually told by your coach that instead of playing baseball, you were going to knit scarfs? I’m guessing you’d find a different place to allow your talent to mature. In a sense, churches have been doing this for years with the entrepreneur. We don’t put them in the game they were designed to play.
Entrepreneurs are so unique they can give a church’s vision a run for its money, ask tough questions and sharpen the leadership of the local church. They have the ability to challenge and push leaders in ways other folks can’t. They cause us to dream bigger, get specific, empower others and take major risks. So, why do entrepreneurs hate your church?
Your Vision is Too Small
What do I mean by “vision”? The mission of all followers of Jesus is to make disciples who make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). The vision for your local church is the how, where and who of this commission. How are you going to make disciples? Where are you going to go? Who are you going to reach? Your church was placed on earth to make disciples. That is why you exist. If we all had the exact same vision for the how, where and who we were going to make disciples of, then we might as well be one big church. But the fact is, God has given each church a unique vision to carry out the mission he has given us all. Far too often, churches settle for a vision that is too small.
Entrepreneurs think big. Honestly, that’s also what makes us (entrepreneurs) fail sometimes. We think all our ideas are going to be the next big thing, when in reality, our dreams are often bigger than the marketplace can handle. However, these big dreams allow businesses to be born and succeed.
Entrepreneurs want to be part of something big, not something that is going to only affect those around the block. Now, those around the block might be the starting point to implement the vision, but shouldn’t be the end point. If you want entrepreneurs to be engaged on the mission in the context God has given your church, think big, not small.
Soma Communities told me they wanted to see 3,000 missional communities in the Seattle area. That’s 1 for every 1,000 people. That vision started with me getting after it, trained and excited for multiplication. If they merely told me that they wanted me to go and start a missional community in my neighborhood, that would have been great and all, but the first thing I’d be thinking is: “Is that it? Is that where I stop?” Honestly, as an entrepreneur, to have that be the end goal wouldn’t be exciting enough.
God is our example for casting vision. He told Abraham: “Your offspring will be numbered as the stars. The whole earth will be blessed through your family.” This is a big vision. God also said that we were to be his witnesses, not only to our neighbors and cities, but to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Think of this vision laid out by God in Genesis and Acts. It includes the people next door to you, but is also much bigger that that. God’s vision is simultaneously as small as a family and as big as the world.
So, when we hear this, we get excited. Not because we can do it on our own, but because we know that God can, and he has given us the Spirit to empower us for the mission. This is a vision beyond our powers and requires us to rely on the Spirit. So, while others may balk at a large vision, the entrepreneur will be your ally in calling people to fulfill the seemingly impossible. We need entrepreneurs calling us to push the envelope, to think beyond our neighborhood and consider the world. They will become a litmus test: If your vision is too small and doesn’t require risk, innovation or creative thinking, they will pick up on this.