Why Entrepreneurs Hate Your Church

Entrepreneurs were born to think big and achieve the never-been-done-before. Don't set limits on the entrepreneurs in your church.

Your Vision is Too Generic

Having a large vision is one thing, but if it is a generic vision, it will likely die. God’s vision for Abraham was big, but it was also specific. He told Abraham: “Go to the land I will show you.” At times, God is not always specific with us, but that’s okay. He’s God. But, what I do find interesting is how God treated Paul on the mission field. Paul listened to Jesus when he said, “You’ll be my witness even to the ends of the earth” (big vision), and then listened to the Spirit as he continued to instruct Paul where to go and where not go. It is amazing to watch how specific the Spirit was with Paul as he listened and relied on God (Acts 16).

What we’ll see in churches is that their vision is: “We want to glorify God in all the earth.” Well, thanks? It is a big vision, but I can frankly do that without being connected to your specific church.

Give us some handles on what you mean. When Soma Communities says, “We want to see 3,000 missional communities in the Puget Sound area,” this gives me so much information right up front. I see a big vision: a number that they desire to attain. I also see the means by which they are going to see disciples made: missional communities. The vision tells folks how they plan on glorifying God in the earth. You don’t necessarily need to see a number, but put on some sort of descriptive handles so we aren’t left to wander.

It’d be like me trying to secure a loan for my business and saying: “We want to be the best company in the whole world!” How? By being the best. Where? The world. Ridiculous. Entrepreneurs need specific vision.

Your Implementation is Too Restrictive

Many churches and pastors usually fail the most here. You literally take the best weapon from the entrepreneur out of their hand by wanting to control everything.

You tell them how things are going to run on Sunday, how things are going to run in your programs, and how things are going to work in their community, small group or missional community.

Entrepreneurs are used to coming up with game plans and strategies based on who they are, what their context is and who is working alongside them. Churches steal that mindset from the entrepreneur and tell them, “Our way or the highway.” And frankly, most entrepreneurs have said, “See ya later.”

Churches then chalk it up to us not wanting to submit to leadership, but that’s not it. We don’t want to be controlled and manipulated into thinking the pastor knows it all and knows how our lives should work. That sounds a little harsh, but that’s how they see it.

Entrepreneurs are used to being handed the “rules” to live within as they deal with local government, tax laws, officials, etc. Once we figure out the “rules of engagement” we can take it and build our businesses within that framework.

Think like that when implementing your vision. How can the church set up a system where it allows the entrepreneurs to use their gifts instead of restricting them? In Soma Communities, the parameters or rules are: We believe that the primary organizing structure of the church is gospel communities on mission, and how you work that out is up to you! They train, equip and encourage. They don’t control.

The Austin Stone does this well, too. My friend, Todd Engstrom, says, “For us, we invite entrepreneurs into conversations that are in their fields, not just ours. Most entrepreneurs hate the church because everything is pretty prescribed, and honestly not very complex. So, we help them think through ministry in their world, but allow them to be the experts.“ By inviting the entrepreneur into these conversations, Austin Stone has launched nine different nonprofits and unleashed leaders into full engagement in the mission of making disciples.

This is a dream for the entrepreneur. It allows us to work within the time frame that our businesses allow instead of having to be at programs, church services or church buildings. To be part of most churches, you have to be at the church building more often than a hipster wears a scarf. Most business owners don’t have time for that. When they don’t show up to those events, they are made to feel guilty and less than a Christian for not showing up to the latest, greatest event.

As a church, flip that scenario and say, “The mission and vision are critical; figure out how to make disciples in the ways that God has given you.” Empower folks! Free up the implementation of your vision to liberate more gifts. This respects the uniqueness of everyone’s design. We have all been made differently, with different gifts, with different schedules and different ideas.

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Seth McBee
Seth McBee is the adopted son of God, husband of one wife, and father of three. He’s a graduate of Seattle Pacific University with a finance degree. By trade Seth is an Investment Portfolio Manager, serving as president of McBee Advisors, Inc as well as a missional community leader, preaching elder with Soma Communities in Renton, Washington, and executive team member of the GCM Collective.