Ever wonder what might happen if you actually went for it?
Did what you always felt called to do but were too afraid to?
I hope you wonder what might happen.
If there’s one thing the church in the West needs today, it’s spiritual entrepreneurs. As I wrote about here, the church today is filled with shepherds, to the point where shepherds are perhaps over-represented in church leadership. What we need most as we navigate new waters in a post-Christian culture is not more shepherds, but spiritual entrepreneurs.
Whether you call it spiritual entrepreneurship or the gift of apostleship, what we need is a new generation of Apostle Pauls who forge out in new directions. Who experiment boldly. Who dare greatly.
Spiritual entrepreneurs are the kind of leaders who will find tomorrow’s solutions when most leaders can only see the problem.
In a marketplace that’s in love with start-ups and new ventures, we need some leaders who are inclined to spend their lives in the marketplace who will take their God-given talents and energy and throw them full time behind the mission of the church.
Are you called to it? As I write about here, the fact that you have the gifts might be enough of a sign that you’re called.
So what does spiritual entrepreneurship look like?
What are the characteristics of leaders who can forge fresh ground in the church?
And how do you know if you might be a spiritual entrepreneur?
As I meet church leaders who are actually reaching unchurched people in massive quantities, here are the qualities I see among the leaders. (I wrote about 5 characteristics I see in their churches here.)
1. Think big
Too many churches die of small thinking:
We don’t have enough
It won’t happen
That’s plenty for now
Who will pay for it?
Leaders who serve an infinite God should never have their imaginations deadened by small thinking.
Spiritual entrepreneurs aren’t. They think big.
They dream of what could be, not what is.
They see the opportunity in every obstacle.
2. Believe God can
We serve a God who created amazing things out of nothing. Why do we think he won’t do the same for his church?
Spiritual entrepreneurs believe he will. And they see him do it.
They would agree with Henry Ford who said, “Whether you believe you can or whether you believe you can’t, you’re right.”
Before you dismiss this as positive thinking nonsense, remember Jesus couldn’t perform many miracles in his hometown because of people’s lack of faith. Then, moments later, he walked on water and fed 5000 because people in those communities had faith.
Spiritual entrepreneurs believe God can. And they see him do it.
3. See abundance, not scarcity
Spiritual entrepreneurs see abundance, not scarcity.
Give a dying church $10,000, and they’ll think they’re broke and need to conserve it.
Give $10,000 to a spiritual entrepreneur, and he’ll see it as seed money to start something big.
To a dying church, 5 leaders is defeat.
To a spiritual entrepreneur, it’s a start.
Same facts. Different mindset. Attitude is everything.
4. Think vision first, resources second
So what comes first? Vision, or resources?
Spiritual entrepreneurs are very comfortable with the reality that vision precedes resources.
Casting a big vision (a solid, on-mission vision) will often lead to significant resources down the road.
Waiting for big resources so you can have a vision is a recipe for death.
5. Invest in personal and team development
Spiritual entrepreneurs aren’t crazy spenders, but they see a key distinction between an expense and an investment.
They realize that going to conferences, networking with other leaders, buying books and doing whatever it takes to make themselves and their team better is an investment.
Sure, there are limits, but smart spiritual entrepreneurs will often spend a minimum of 10% of all the money they receive making themselves and their team better.
6. Believe this is bigger than them
Of all the criticisms levied at spiritual entrepreneurs, the most common is often that they have big egos and it’s all about them.
Sometimes that’s true.
But most often it’s not.
Big vision does not automatically equal big ego.
The best spiritual entrepreneurs humbly submit to God and are committed to a vision that is so much bigger than they are.
Personal humility combined with big ambition for the mission fosters incredible leadership.
Think about it this way. The reason we’re talking about Paul 2000 years later is that Paul’s work wasn’t about Paul; it was about Jesus and the mission of the church.
If your vision is all about you, it will die with you.
True spiritual entrepreneurs know that.
7. Ship first, improve later
Perfectionists make terrible entrepreneurs.
If you haven’t shipped on your vision yet because you’re waiting for ideal conditions or the perfect result, you’ll wait forever.
People email me all the time (usually after going to a conference hosted by a large church with lots of resources) and ask whether a new building or better lighting or a move to a portable location will help them grow.
I always tell them it won’t (here’s why).
Big churches never started big. They usually started very humbly. But because they are led by spiritual entrepreneurs, those entrepreneurs at every stage made the most of whatever they had.
A spiritual entrepreneur can launch a growing church in a dying building with little money.
Then they make all the improvements later as facilities and resources grow.
8. Are fine with ambiguity
Ask a spiritual entrepreneur how they’re going to do it, and the #1 answer is “I don’t know. We’re just going to do it.”
There’s something powerful in that.
If you have it all figured out before you launch it, your vision isn’t big enough.
9. Will risk it all without guarantee of success
Too many leaders hope for some kind of guarantee.
Risk brings no guarantees because it’s risk.
Spiritual entrepreneurs are okay with that.
Most spiritual entrepreneurs want to die trying. Usually they don’t die trying, but the fact that they’re willing to is crucial.
Ironically, if a spiritual entrepreneur has a solid plan that’s on mission, they usually don’t fail. But you have to be willing to fail to succeed.
10. Never wait for consensus
Too many churches will only move forward if there is consensus.
That’s a critical mistake.
Consensus kills courage. By the time you have consensus, ideas are so watered down they are worthy of the committee that put them together.
Spiritual entrepreneurs rarely act alone (at least the smart ones don’t). But they’re ready to move ahead with a group of early adopters knowing most will eventually buy into whatever is being proposed once they see it working.
11. Let the critics talk while they act
The critics will always talk.
Spiritual entrepreneurs know this.
They don’t get weighed down by critics who criticize what others do and do little themselves.
How do you respond to the critics?
Just act while the critics talk. You’ll accomplish something. They won’t.
12. Break rules
Quite obviously, you should never break biblical rules. And the great spiritual entrepreneurs never do. Their character is solid.
But you’re going to absolutely need to break some human rules if you’re going to disrupt the status quo.
Innovation always breaks rules. Why?
Because innovation never asks for permission. It just innovates.
What Do You See?
I wrote more about the challenges facing the church in my new book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow. Think of it as a manual for a new generation of spiritual entrepreneurs.
What do you see? Anything you’d add to this list?
Scroll down and leave a comment.