Why We Need More Entrepreneurial Church Leaders, Not More Shepherds

I realize I might be opening up a controversial conversation. But I think it has to be said.

And I hope you’ll hear me out.

If the church is going to reverse some trends and maximize potential, we need more entrepreneurial pastors, not more shepherds.

There’s too much at stake to ignore this conversation.

We’re (Quite Literally) Missing the Boat

If you’re a Christian, for certain the reason you have the faith you have is because Jesus died and rose again. That’s the absolute foundation of our faith.

But would you ever have heard about Jesus if a rabbi named Saul hadn’t sailed all over the known world telling every Jewish and non-Jewish person he could find about Jesus, planting churches almost everywhere he went?

The Apostle Paul, as he became known, left a huge impact not just on the church, but on millions of lives (and on human history) because he possessed the spiritual gift of apostleship.

What’s an apostle? To put it into today’s idiom, an apostle is a spiritual entrepreneur. (Here’s a great article from Leadership Journal about apostleship in the church today.)

A shepherd cares for a (usually) small group. An apostle launches dozens, hundreds or thousands of new communities of Christ-followers.

The church today is flooded with leaders who fit the shepherd model, caring for people who are already assembled, managing what’s been built and helping to meet people’s needs. (This is also a spiritual gift.)

But we have far too few leaders who have the spiritual gift of apostleship.

I believe this helps explain the malaise in much of the Western church in which the vast majority of churches are plateaued or declining.

We quite literally need people to get in a boat (or a car or a plane) and start new things, shake up the old and lead into a better tomorrow.

When it comes to spiritual gifting in today's church, we are quite literally missing the boat. Click To Tweet

Is This Just Another Slam of Small Churches….?

Is this another slam against small churches?

Well…yes and no.

I love what Karl Vaters has said about small churches.  Karl pastors in Orange County California, where everyone has a megachurch it seems. He leads a smaller church.

According to Karl,

90% of the churches in the world have less than 200 people.

80% have less than 100 people.

And he asks a great question. What if [having a lot of small churches] is not a problem; what if that’s a strategy God wants to use?”

Interesting. You could hear this as a justification for keeping churches small (a justification I’ve heard far too many times).

But hear him out. He adds a crucial caveat:

I’m not interested in someone who says “We have these few. That’s all we ever want. That’s all we ever need.” If that’s your attitude, God bless you (I don’t think he will.)

I want people who want to innovate…who realize that maybe because of their gifting it works better in a small setting. But it’s not about settling. Never settle. Never settle.

Couldn’t agree more. Thank you Karl! (Here’s his whole interview.)

I just wonder if part of that innovation is going to come from people (even in small churches) with the gift of apostleship. If the church as a whole is going to grow, this has to become an all-skate.

5 Things Entrepreneurial Leaders Bring

There are at least gifts crucial skills (gifts) entrepreneurial leaders bring to the table:

1. The willingness to risk

The early church took incredible risks. People risked their health, safety, financial security and their very lives for the sake of the Gospel.

In a time when too many churches are trying to figure out how to survive, we need leaders who will change the question to how the church is going to thrive.

You can’t do that without risk. Being willing to risk what you have today is the best way to get to a different tomorrow.

Being willing to risk what you have today is the best way to get to a different tomorrow. Click To Tweet

2. Experimentation

Have you ever asked yourself what it would have been like to be in the New Testament church?

It was an audacious experiment that God was completely behind. Everything changed in a generation; the place of worship, who worshipped, where people worshipped, how they worshipped, how they connected to each other, how they gave and how they forgave.

There isn’t a single element of everyday life that looked the same after a decade of life in the church.

If the church is going to grow, it’s going to have to change. (I wrote about 11 characteristics of future churches here.)

3. A restless discontent with the status quo

Entrepreneurs and apostles are never satisfied. While it can be frustrating to work with someone who is never satisfied, it’s an essential gift in birthing what’s new and expanding a current mission.

Entrepreneurs are not only discontent with what others have created; they’re soon discontent with what they’ve helped create.

Paul died in prison longing to do more. Why do we make fun of church leaders today who have the same sense of urgency?

4. Boldness

If you search the New Testament, you’ll see boldness as a hallmark of early church leaders.

You can hardly describe the church culture of many churches today as bold. Anemic, maybe. Bold, no.

And when people become bold, people criticize them for being arrogant or in it for themselves. Well, sometimes yes. But often no. They’re just exercising a God-given gift. Paul, after all, was no stranger to that criticism.

After all, boldness moved the cause of Christ forward in a remarkable way, changing millions of lives.

5. A bias for action

We have plenty of thinkers in the church and not nearly enough doers.

Entrepreneurs bring a bias for action that is often astonishing. Spiritual entrepreneurs accomplish things nobody else accomplishes because they do things nobody else is willing to do.

If you think about the (much-criticized) innovations in today’s church (video venues, multisite churches, online campuses etc.) you realize that you open yourself to a world of criticism when you start bold new things. So what?

You open yourself to a world of criticism when you start bold new things. So what? Click To Tweet

Not the Only Thing, But a Missing Thing

I’m not saying the gift of apostleship is the only thing, but it is a missing thing.

Conventional seminaries are mostly addicted to producing shepherds. If all we get have is shepherds stepping into leadership, then what you get is people who will (mostly) care for small groups of people.

Organizationally, it makes some sense to hire leaders and have shepherd volunteer. That’s what we’ve done at Connexus. You can care for hundreds, or thousands, of people through volunteer shepherd (we call them small group leaders) and let the leaders lead.

Do we need the gift of shepherding? Absolutely.

But we’re desperately missing the gift of spiritual entrepreneurship in the church today.

Don’t Just Leave a Comment, Tap Someone on the Shoulder

Feel free to leave a comment, but please don’t stop there.

The church has plenty of opinions but not nearly enough capable leaders.

So here’s my challenge…why don’t you tap an entrepreneur you know on the shoulder today and ask him or her, ‘have you ever considered ministry’?

Think about it.

Who do you know who might be in business today who could be in ministry tomorrow? My guess is that there are people who are running businesses and leading in organizations who have the gifts for ministry but have never thought about ministry.

And maybe they’ve never thought about ministry because they’ve never seen anyone with their gift set use it for ministry. (You know that’s one way calls often happen, right? God uses human conversations to stir massive redirections of people’s lives.)

The church has plenty of opinions but not nearly enough capable leaders. Click To Tweet

If You’d Love to Reach More People in 2021…


So you would love to see your church grow in 2020, but the question is how? 

Naturally, I can’t make a church grow and you can’t make a church grow. Only God can do that.

But I believe you can position your church to grow. You can knock down the barriers that keep you from growing. You can eliminate the things that keep your church from growing and implement some strategies that will help you reach far more people.

That’s what I’d love to help you do in the Church Growth Masterclass.  

The Church Growth Masterclass is designed to help you jumpstart a stuck church, or help your growing church reach even more people. 

It’s everything I wish I knew about church growth when I got into ministry more than 20 years ago.

In the Church Growth Masterclass you’ll learn:

  • The 10 reasons your church isn’t growing
  • Why even committed church-goers aren’t attending as often as before
  • How to tell if your church leaders are getting burned out
  • The five keys to your church better impacting millennials.
  • What to do when a church wants to grow … but not change
  • 5 essentials for church growth
  • 5 disruptive church trends to watch—and how to respond
  • How to increase church attendance by increasing engagement.

You can learn more and gain instant access to the course today.

Really hoping 2020 is a year of growth and impact for you and your church!

And now…

So while I am very interested in what you think (please comment), seriously, don’t just leave a comment, tap someone on the shoulder.

Why We Need More Entrepreneurial Church Leaders, Not More Shepherds


  1. Joe on August 5, 2021 at 2:26 am

    It’s eyes openings, it’s bomb blasting and it will send the church back to the Acts of the Apostles. I love it.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on August 5, 2021 at 12:27 pm

      Same here!

  2. Mike on April 9, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    I understand your sense of need for the Church. A lack of growth, churches plateauing, etc. Appreciate your sense of it and a willingness to act upon it. Church growth is good, and we should all work towards it.

    However, I believe that you are off the mark on how God grows the church and impacts the world for His Kingdom. God grows the church and impacts the world through leaders who have really encountered the holiness of God, that led to genuine conviction of sin, and then to a real experience of His infinite love (out of a realization that they have been mercifully rescued from deserved wrath).

    Take a look at all of the greatest leaders of the Church that made a huge impact on the world. Prophet Isaiah, Apostle John, Peter, Paul, St. Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, and so on. Every single leader listed experienced, by the work of the Spirit, what I have previously listed above. This was their secret and their power to extraordinary works here on Earth. This is also the central secret seen in Acts as well. Extraordinary joy in the love of God from a realization that they have been rescued from holy wrath. Spirit filled people who has had their eyes opened to the holiness, beauty, and Majesty of God.

    We need men and women who are absolutely Spirit filled, not merely gifted with CEO abilities. We need men and women who have really encountered God, seen His beauty, and tasted His goodness, not merely capable people who can organize large institutions. The Church desperately needs these people. We can’t just go to CEOs and very competent people and tell them to start Churches and lead spiritual organizations. We need to go to people who has seen the glory of God, love the glory of God, and who has devoted their life to magnifying and exalting the glory of God.

    God will call true leaders by filling them with His Spirit, so that they would love the glory of God above all things, and these people will vary in all sorts of different gifts. God will call geniuses this way, entrepreneurs this way, musicians this way, etc. God will build His church in this way by filling men and women with the Spirit (emphasis). Jesus loves the church, so much that He died for her. I find peace knowing that He will build His church, so that one day He will gather a people from all nations who will praise Him, and be infinitely satisfied in Him for all of eternity. A people who will share in the very fellowship of God in the New Heavens and the New Earth!

    “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” – C.S Lewis

    • Nate Marialke on December 12, 2020 at 11:26 am

      I think Carey is 100 percent right in this article but has only given us 50 percent of what the Apostolic gifting is. Mike, you’ve brought up the other side of this. If we merely have gifted CEOs that can build structures to gather people and finances which support programs we will only have a hollow shell of Christendom enterprise filled with consumers and not a vibrant New Covenant church revealing Jesus. I think this is a real issue in the North American church. On the other hand, as Carey pointed out, if we have men and women who have encountered Jesus with no Apostolic gifting it is likely the church will not quickly impact the world the way, I believe, the Spirit, through scripture calls is too. Great thoughts from both sides!

  3. Craig on February 11, 2020 at 11:40 pm

    Sometimes you have interesting posts. This one buys into a business model. Jesus isn’t a CEO. A Minister isn’t called to be a CEO. An apostle isn’t a CEO.
    You are reinterpreting the meaning of apostle to be something it never was in the NT, where apostleship was an office of those who were one of the twelve, as compared to ordinary disciples of Jesus. There were thus thirteen apostles. Only.

    Nothing stops a pastor from ” being bold” or visionary or “having a bias for action” or “willing to experiment”. None of these verbs are necessary qualities of a NT apostle. An apostle in NT language was simply one of the Thirteen, including Paul.

    You, and other “Ephesians Four” acolytes, are attributing something to apostleship that didn’t historically exist. Which sadly means that the current lot of “apostles” have merely appropriated a title for themselves, that has zero to do with a biblical interpretation. This, Timothy nor Dorcas are called “apostles”. Simply imputing a modern cultural (“entrepreneur”) notion to a specific NT concept is eisegetical.

  4. Ben Bowman on February 10, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    I like it, I haven’t heard it before, but I think I agree with you.

    I’m an entrepreneur (i think anyhow based on personality tests and general passion for finding/making/marketing/profiting …no $ to prove it yet though lol…)

    I think to make earth like it is in heaven (Jesus’ example prayer for disciples) will require a fairly large population of folks on earth to join in worshiping Him first… and that number is just continuing to grow by second… +\- 8Billion

    So yeah let’s get some folks who like getting other folks onboard to join in the fight and win souls for Christ?!

    Why in the world would any professing believer disagree with that?!

    • Clint Garman on February 12, 2020 at 7:26 pm

      Being BiVo/CoVo for last 10-15 years has been amazing. While being on church staff as men’s pastor and owning an Irish Pub both have played well with one another. Going out into parts untapped to create new places to gather and break bread outside the institution is necessary. When both support each other it’s beautiful and sacred.

  5. Gerson M. on August 30, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    I’d like to encourage all the leaders/Pastors replying to this Blog post to please read the article with the intent of comprehension. So many just speed-read and saw some words that they did not like or understood and dismissed the article! I hope that’s not the way you comprehend other writings! …especially the SCRIPTURES! Guess what, we can ALL tell, you have no idea what CN was trying to get across because you were hacking at the wrong tree!

    I have been in ministry all my life (grew up as a PK sleeping on the pews) , and have noticed the zeal that the office of the pastor (even in 3rd world countries like my own Nicaragua) has in protecting it’s own role. The five-fold ministry aspects of a healthy church have been snuffed out by a Whacking Shepherd mentality. Where Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, and Evangelists are told to take a hike because they don’t fit into the mold (“vision”) of the Pastor “Shepherding”, and the Pastor absorbs these roles and calls it good!

    Now we have those offices working independently (outside of the confines of the local church) because there was no room for them there to grow and benefit God’s community! This article definitely struck a chord, because it is exposing the Whacking Pastor mentality (ie..see the pastors whacking the author who is serving as a prophetic voice to the current church model…even whacking with the Bible, how embarrassing!)

    I agree with CN that those offices work best IN the local Church context! It may be time to embrace the strengths that Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, and Evangelists bring without fear that they will take your herd! Perhaps it is not healthy for Pastors to absorb those roles, and say “See! We don’t need those guys! I can be ALL you need!” You might be surprised how the other roles would not care for being on your payroll…perhaps they enjoy walking in their giftings and callings without looking to be the Head Honcho because they are already leading organizations, ministries, companies, blogs, podcasts, books..etc. You might also be surprised in how the Church will grow more healthily into its identity in Christ!

    • Bob on February 10, 2020 at 11:21 pm

      I have been saying the same things you are saying for the past 15 years. I now pastor a church that is in a revitalization stage with the intent on not surviving but thriving. I have been here 2 years and many changes have been made but we have lost about 1/3 of our members because they wanted to stay in a status quo mentality. I grew up in a church plant, I was involved 5 church plants as planter and mentor. In 2003, I felt led to get my doctorate in Church growth and church health and start helping churches get healthy. Healthy churches can supernaturally reproduce. From 2004- 2011 did radio show on KNLB radio in Lake Havasu City, AZ that reached most of the southwest called “Strengthening America’s Churches.” I believe and understand exactly what you are saying. The church I am serving as an entrepreneur/pastor/revitalizer has tremendous potential and is almost turned around. It has almost crippling debt that incurred 10 years ago. Numbers in seat mean more giving units which will help us pay the debt down faster and have resources for more ministry, evangelism, discipleship and duplication.
      Pastor Bob Greene
      Boones Mill Baptist Church, VA.

  6. Keith Smith on June 17, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    We are so ingrained in our modern church philosophy that we can’t see beyond a “bigger church means you did a better job” concept. The only thing I’ll say is that the church at large has lost much credibility by acting like big corporations and not pastoring and shepherding well. The church today is smaller, not larger. We trade members to the newest, hottest church. We drive further and further towards consumerism. We need more pastors, not more CEO’s. God help us. Somebody needs to bust up in here and turn over some tables.

  7. Brandi on May 13, 2019 at 4:05 am

    I stumbled across this post as I was googling the opposite idea lol. But I also don’t disagree with you. I was thinking that modern pastors are not Shepard’s. In my church experience we have 5 pastor’s and none of them even know my name and Ive been attending the same church for 3+yrs. I think most of the church members would probably say that also is true for them as well, and it’s not the first church that has been this way. Unless I were to reach out for “shepherding” no one would know of I needed it. I started thinking about this when I was studying Ephesians 4, verse 11 lists a few ministry gifts : apostle, prophet, evangelists, shepherd/pastor, and teacher. I don’t see any of those roles filled often except for pastor. But modern western churches seem to expect the pastor to full fill all the roles except for shepherding. Many churches I have attended focus on preaching the gospel, there isn’t a lot of shepherding of those who have accepted the gospel already. The “shepherd” is expected to evangilise new comers and preach the gospel, teach the word, and shepherding sounds nice but falls low on the priority list, and if it’s a new church they are also filling the role of apostle. This all in one preacher isn’t good for anybody. As you said that some who would be gifted apostles might not realize they have a skill set for ministry because they haven’t seen that modeled, I don’t think most of those roles are actually modeled so we end up with a bunch of under equiped Christians who don’t even realize that there are roles to become equiped for. Why would anyone aspire to be an apostle, prophet, evangelists, or teacher if they don’t really feel called to be a pastor? Given our modern multitool preacher, it’s all or nothing. If real shepherding was happening we’d have pastor’s who are helping mature Christians step into these other roles.

    • Ben B on February 10, 2020 at 9:58 pm

      Valid point, lots of Pastors lose flock trying to grab strays and neglect fold… truth.
      I guess what I got out of article was, that more often than not shepherds tend flocks and ignore everything else that might help make fold triple or double.

      You’re right though we need both.

      Really we need ministers who ”moonlight” at their 9-5 day jobs but have been called according to His purpose and linked into His body to put up our (church’s) best fight at winning world for Christ, and we need a Body that nurtures that possibility

  8. aimtux on March 31, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    Usually I don’t read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very great post.

    • Mike Johnston on February 10, 2020 at 10:13 pm

      Entrepreneurs is one way of saying vision keeper. We have kept Christ in a box for toooooo long! It’s time to let Him out!!! He belongs in the community that we live with support from the small groups that have been formed as support for the growth. We preach the gospel but have we really preached the gospel. He is beginning a revival in this land as is occurring around the world.

  9. mega. nz/#f!cjbgmarb!wxmi6bmxc-irq6crfernsa on March 29, 2019 at 3:39 am

    Your home is valueble for me. Thanks!…

  10. Jana E on January 31, 2019 at 7:31 am

    I, personally, find this very interesting. I am an entrepreneur. I came across your article in a search for wisdom. Currently, I’m sitting in my time with Jesus, and I got this crazy prompting to revisit and address something that happened to me nearly a year ago…. I was turned down after an interview for a seat on the board of directors for a Christian organization. I’m not upset about being turned down; if I’m not a fit, then I’m not a fit. But during the interview, I was told that they were excited about my interest because of all I brought to the table. The Executive Director of the organization was ecstatic that I wanted to serve. So I was shocked when I got the call denying the seat. I was shocked for the reason… One person was able to convince the committee (not present in the interview) that I was basically seeking the position to grow personally and that was wrong. For a year, the reasoning hasn’t bothered me. I let it go. But my desire to serve remains. And here I am searching… Is it wrong to serve God and hope to get something out of it personally. I’m looking to see what others say and scripture references. I know that we are to serve selflessly and putting God first. But is it wrong if doing so makes us satisfied? Is it wrong if we SEEK to do God’s will because it glories him and makes us feel good? Is it wrong to seek out “iron sharpens iron” situations were we grow as Christians in the process of serving God? This person who, in denying me the seat, told me it’s wrong to go into a ministry hoping to get anything out of it. I just don’t understand how that’s bad and I want to know what God has to say. I know that selfishness shouldn’t be the motivation. Got it. And it’s not my motivation. But I don’t understand how the desire to grow is bad. Entrepreneurs are a different breed of people, and a breed that most can’t understand. It is inherent in every entrepreneur I know that we get a sort of high by growing businesses (and, yes, ministry is a business). I don’t understand why it is wrong to have that excitement for the ministry and also excitement that, as an entrepreneur, I could do what I do best around people who love Jesus and grow in the spiritual realm in the process. To me that’s something to get excited about! So why would it be seen as selfish and bad? Please contact me!

    • Martha on September 9, 2019 at 11:52 pm

      Did you receive an answer yet?

      • Don Jacobsen on February 8, 2020 at 11:01 am

        Carey, this is one of your best. I’m 87, a retired pastor, and I can hardly sit still. 80% + of America’s churches are plateaued or in decline. That does not honor the Lord who promised to establish a prevailing church. Desperate times are not confronted by timid dreams. I pray the Lord of the Church will raise up hair-on-fire leaders who will make themselves available to do what God is longing to do in and through His Church.

    • Pastor Nolan Soldahl on October 1, 2019 at 2:28 pm

      Okay. So, a lot to unpack here. I’m an associate pastor state side currently and my wife is an entrepreneur. I found this post currently thinking about starting a personal business as I have a desire to affect the community and not rely on ministry to cover life expenses so that I may do with financial blessing as Jesus tells me to. That little background aside, I’m going to go through this comment you left blow by blow in the interest of recognition of desire to serve and wanting to grow. As I read your post, I couldn’t help but think that your desires may be honest in wanting to serve and that you are asking great questions. However, something came though clearly that I doubt you intended. In bringing up your past story of being denied the position you said that you had let it go multiple times and that you were okay with the decision made. Though you said this, you still brought it up and used victim mentality language. As this is only my observation I want you to truly spend time in prayer asking God to reveal the desires of your heart and examine yourself with honesty though it may be painful. Have you truly let it go?

      That aside, I love the struggle and what you are asking. Let me see if I may shed some light into this. Being in ministry needs to match up (for all believers, not only elders and overseers) to 1 Tim 3 & Titus 1 as we are all to desire to meet those expectations. How many of those qualities can you truly say you’re matching up with and what are you in deficit of? I am doing this constantly in my own life as well and I don’t think we should ever stop.

      As for the business side of things, it’s never about numbers and growth that way. God only cares about quality of disciples (those who are humbling themselves before Him and truly in love with Him on a daily basis), not quantity. Are you desiring to lead a life that is able to create people who are mimicking those traits that you have? As Paul wrote, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Are we able to say that with confidence knowing that we exhibit the traits we want others to have? If so, I see no reason that you ought not be in ministry being the humble person who only loves Him and spends time in prayer. I recommend reading “Letters to the Church” by Francis Chan for some more detail on this thought process.

      The next main point is that following Christ leads to suffering and being able to find joy and excitement in it! When we seek to grow with God it is a daily, “How can I suffer for you today, Lord?” In our humbling we can know that He will challenge us in the best of ways. I have noticed that my wife has a difficult time with this because of certain traits. As an entrepreneur she has learned that one needs to be the best fish in the sea to have success. Though this may be true, especially if one looks at people like Gary Vaynerchuck it creates a message that is not entirely scriptural. One can fine growth and enjoy the process but with God the only selfishness that can be had is if we derive pleasure and happiness from His pleasure and happiness. How we know He is happy is when we are in constant communication with Him and you are letting Him control your thoughts and actions in a moment to moment basis. It is not wrong to want growth and seek situations where we can grow and strengthen one another (after all that is the purpose of the Church). However, we need to check our hearts when we come to the table of the King remembering that His Church is not our own and that it is sacred in every sense of the word. I hope that this helped if you have any questions please keep asking and searching for answers. If anything I said was inaccurate please correct me and know that I only wrote this with the best of intentions based on mere observation of what you have written and how. Also, please know that it is my conviction that I am to love you as Christ has loved me.

    • Sandi Goodman on February 8, 2020 at 7:06 am

      Jana E, I believe that we often serve out of a personal need or desire to do something good. I answered God’s call to serve in missions more than 20 years ago. The passion, excitement, tragedies, and joy, etc. have resulted in an overflowing ministry of sharing the endless stories of God’s love in nearly every encounter I have. I believe that is apostleship, when we passionately share what we witness god doing in our world and it begins when we have a personal desire to serve.

    • Pastor Miles on February 8, 2020 at 11:19 am

      No, it isn’t wrong. “God works in is to desire and do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). I’ve always taught this that God leads us into His will by giving us desires in alignment with His will. This then means that we desire to do what He desires us to do. This is why Paul would lay aside every other pursuit to lay holds off that for which Christ laid hold of him (see Philippians 3:7-14). Additionally, John Piper popularized the saying, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied I’m Him.”

  11. Maselo Mosomane on March 28, 2018 at 6:09 am

    Pastor; I always knew I needed someone to speak into my life like this. I’ve always been apostolic (starting churches) and entrepreneurial (starting businesses). My calling and vision has always been short-circuited by the pastoral culture. I am more effective outside than inside the church. How can you mentor me more?

  12. […] one in the church today. Ditto for this blog. Just check out the impassioned comments on this post, where I argue the church today needs more entrepreneurial leaders, not more […]

  13. […] polarizing one in the church today. Ditto for this blog. Just check out the impassioned comments on this post, where I argue the church today needs more entrepreneurial leaders, not more […]

  14. Rahul Agarwal on March 8, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Dang bro, this is a very timely and needed message. I appreciate you stepping out and starting this conversation.

  15. AccessIPD on March 5, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    I really agree with the point of your article, apostleship in an entrepreneurial sense is sorely lacking in church; and I like your 5 main benefits that apostles bring. I also think you’re entirely correct in linking business mindset to apostleship. But not just any business mindset, it must be entrepreneurial. What I’d add is the extraordinary cost associated with this kind of entrepreneurial leadership. It is not to be entered into lightly. There is one key element, make sure you hear from God before steooing into the boat! Check it out with others you trust, and have it written down somewhere you can reference… you’re going to need it!

  16. Sam on March 3, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    I think you are right on point. Our focus as a church should be outward, not inward. I think it is also very important to keep all churches accountable just as Paul did. If Paul heard or seen things in the church that ought not to be, he called it out. As leaders, we need to get down and dirty. Churches that praise sin is unexceptable. Churches that are young can be susceptible to going astray if they are not rooted firmly in the Word of God.

  17. Ben Sadler on March 3, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Thank you. I just went to church and culture conference with James Emery white, because I heard him on your podcast. I’m ready to make the mission all about reaching the unchurched even if that upsets some religious people

  18. John Grigsby on December 29, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    yes amen – you hit the nail right on the head. I am trying to motivate our Fellowship Groups (Sunday School) to get out of the church and be the church. This explanation of an apostle is just what I needed to communicate my message.

  19. Lion4ever on December 8, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Very interesting article, and something that the church needs to address as a matter of urgency for Christ to be made known.

  20. Steve Nelson on August 26, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    This! Thanks Carey! You have articulated well why my first 18+ years in vocational ministry have been personally frustrating, and why now, at 47, I am taking the lead in planting a new church, which will plant churches which will plant churches. I’m no Shepherd, but an Apostle. The challenge that I faced in an established church was that no amount of teaching, preaching, explaining, and Bible studies, brought people to an understanding that their Pastor wasn’t a “pastor.”

  21. Pas. Deidre Jones on May 22, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Wow – thanks for this article! Not only have you explained who I am, and the experience I bring to ministry, but also my calling. As a Pastor, I never could seem to justify my impatience, or even explain my 5-Fold leadership ministry planting concept to my Shepherd only peers. Thank God (literally) that I have a Shepherd-based Bishop with an Apostolic heart who gets me… enough to encourage me and give me the green light! Thanks to all the great comments below as well!

  22. HoosierConservative on April 18, 2016 at 10:09 am

    The comment section of this post is like a lab on the material. You can see the gap between those who understand entrepreneurship and those who don’t. Once you’ve spent some time in leadership and process improvement, you do indeed notice the many similarities. And when you visit a church where you’re immediately called a moneychanger for using a simple business analogy, you head for the door.

    Carey, may I add one comment to your otherwise brilliant treatise? Ministry innovators should not be pressured into thinking the goal is always to plant a large church. Faith-based charity projects, home group networking, youth outreach through tutoring or sports, these are great ways to aerate hardened soil in preparation for a church invitation. If the grueling job of pastorship hangs over your head, you’re less inclined to see ministry as an option.

  23. Girli Pangilinan on March 31, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    I must admit, reading this article and some of the comments, this is starting the wheels turning. I’ve been kidding about how the short courses I’ve been completing lately have been about entrepreneurship, and how my husband and I have been seeing management of both resources and people from a business organization perspective more than a shepherding perspective. When our church was transitioning into new leadership, one of the things being discussed during the leadership sessions (strictly for workers and volunteers only) was how the structure was being reorganized, and I recognized the business model, and it just fired me up!

    I don’t know if this means we will be in leadership positions (would be grateful if NOT!), but it HAS given me a more specific prayer point to add when I pray for church leaders, both in my own church, and in other churches (specially my best friend and her husband, who are missionary church planters with another denomination, and are also business-minded people! This is just so cool!).

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 1, 2016 at 9:20 am

      This is so encouraging. Thanks!

      • Andrwe Miller on February 8, 2020 at 1:52 pm

        Carey, is it possible to be a Shepherd while having an entrepreneurial spirit? I feel like I might have both. I pastor a small but growing church in Alaska and love to shepherd people. But I have also seen the need to be creative as we discern what needs to stay, go and be tweaked. Just a question.


  24. timbole on March 3, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Hey Carey,
    Thanks for writing this. People really get caught up in semantics don’t they?

    Anyway, this article has proved to be for me a corrective. I had an apostle type in our church I honestly didn’t know how to leverage him and he’s no longer with us. Recommended him for eldership and then things went bad after that. He was too young and just not ready and there were lots of other issues. But part of our clashing of heads was his apostle gift (and the impatience that often comes with it) running over my shepherding (hear, much slower and more averse to risk) gift like a Mack truck. I thought all pastors should be heavy on the, well…shepherd side of things (I know…you don’t have to say it). I saw him as not caring about the people he was leading and forgot about the beauty of a plurality of elders and the different dynamics each one brings to the table.

    I was 34 at the time and he was just barely 28 and had just gotten married (Again, I know…but we were really young (literally) as a church and he was one of the few qualified…I should also mention that this is a church plant).

    I wish I had been wise enough to recognize this and leverage it instead of pushing back. I’ve learned a lot and I know there are other spiritual entrepreneurial types in our church still and I know they aren’t using their gifts. I hope learning means changing and changing means challenging these guys and opening space for them to step forward.

    God Bless you bro and again, thanks.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 3, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      Tim…this kind of humility is so rare in leaders. I am such a fan of your ability to look back, correct and move forward. That’s great self-awareness and great progress. Way to go!

  25. Ali Loaker on March 1, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    That’s exactly who I am! I was a susscessful salesman but this year I’m launching a new church which formed out of a coffee shop outreach! Once that church is on it’s way and leaders are in place I’m on to the next! I think it’s easier to establish a sense of ownership and community in a smaller church. It would be interesting to know what size the churches Paul the Apostle planted?

  26. tejones on January 23, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    I have seen a lot of similarities between entrepreneurs and Christian leaders, at least what they should be. Entrepreneurs definitely start things, groups, organizations, etc. They try to solve problems, that is their driving force. The Christian church in this country has stopped trying to solve problems in the past several decades.

    There is a certain amount of risk and dreaming with entrepreneurs and they are tireless workers. They don’t pay attention to what people are telling them. The Christian (apostolic) leader can do the same and the driving force can be the dream and the needs needing solved that is birthed in them by the Father.

    The Church in America needs leaders like this as well as Christian Entrepreneurs who will solve real world problems in Jesus name. It will not look like traditional churchinese, but it can be really effective.

    Good thoughts here

  27. Marco Jacobs on January 15, 2016 at 7:17 am

    Very good article, Thanks for sharing.

  28. Forest Ray on January 13, 2016 at 10:13 am

    I minister to the hard core Gamer subculture and this article hits the nail right on the head as I have gone out to them instead of waiting for them to come into church. I have gotten a lot of criticism for this but it is part of being an Apostle to the gamer community. Thanks for the uplift.

  29. Doug Black Jr. on November 25, 2015 at 5:26 am

    So, someone has this gift. Where do those with these gifts fit in a church context that emphasizes and honors pastoral gifts over apostolic gifts? Like, how does one get started practicing these gifts in the local church?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 25, 2015 at 10:51 am

      My advice would be to just start. And if that doesn’t work and you’re truly an entrepreneur, go start a church.

    • Ali Loaker on March 1, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      Start a church!

  30. Drew Heurion on November 1, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    I would stress that just because someone shows entrepreneurial skills in the marketplace does not mean they automatically qualify for ANY sort of Christian ministry (pastoral or otherwise). While I’m sure you would agree with this I wish you would’ve stressed that element a bit more in this piece.

    Theological training is a must if we hope to plant sound and healthy churches that will stand the test of time. Being savvy in the business world is not the primary trait needed. World missions from the last decade have born out the principle that for sustainable and healthy growth, theologically trained pastoral leadership is a non-negotiable (for more on this please see Dr. David Sills book “Reaching and Teaching”; in it he offers a very helpful corrective to the overly pragmatic tendencies in recent missions methodology). Again, I’m sure you might agree, but this piece seems to relegate such a stance as secondary at best and an unnecessary hindrance at worst.

    Maybe the heart of the issue comes down to terminology. If one is not willing to shepherd Christ’s flock, protecting them from doctrinal error and keeping watch over their souls, then one should immediately relinquish the title of pastor-elder.

    While there is much good to take home from this piece, I think a bit more balance and biblical understanding of ecclesiological leadership is in order.

    I would argue that those who seek to manage the church only should be willing to also step aside from the pulpit and let those who are doing the pastoring also have charge over the public teaching as well.

  31. ThistletownKen on September 20, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    “Shepherd” is just another word for “Pastor”. I notice that your little bio says you are the lead pastor. Should that be changed to “lead entrepreneur”? We should suggest anyone for ministry who meets the qualifications outlined in the Pastoral Epistles and I Peter and II Corinthians, successful in business or not. Good management is a necessary element for church shepherds as the Pastorals indicate. But it is never an either/or proposition.

  32. Rogers Govender on September 1, 2015 at 7:09 am

    Well said – I endorse your thoughts on this subject of leadership in the church. I seek to be this way inclined and it always delivers for the Kingdom especially in my current role!

  33. Jason Pensa on August 13, 2015 at 10:33 am

    So what you mean is that we need more shepherds to have an entrepreneurial spirit and not just a caring spirit only-otherwise it initially sounded like you were just encouraging new-church-plants (like Paul). The current trend of church-planting concerns me because you see church-plants popping up near old-established churches and I suspect get 80-90% of their members from other churches and that to me does not seem like the solution. But otherwise I agree that more Pastors need more of an entrepreneurial-risk-taking-change-embracing mindset!!

  34. Nhlanhla Mthembu on July 29, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Great article. I’m pioneering (led by the Master Pioneer) new innovations here in South Africa in the Body of Christ.

    This is a great motivation. Halleluja!!!

  35. Mike Harrigan on July 22, 2015 at 7:07 am

    I like the ideas you had but wonder about the language. Does the church need more apostles seems to fit better than entrepreneurs. Honestly, I get tired of our cultural confusion which drives us to analyze or dissect what we are supposed to do as believers. I think the major failing of the westernized church is we have lost reverence. We think we are in control and if we just have another seminar, another retreat, another paradigm shift…What we need is people who take God at his word and follow him. The gifts, the harvest, the healthy churches all of it stem from simple obedience and faith. Why do American Christians apply cultural standards to the body.?No offense to the author but do you know how many books and organizations there are out there about Christian Leadership ..it’s nauseating. Jesus is not my CEO and Paul was not entrepreneurial. Paul was a murderer who God transformed by Grace. The power of God transforms us and then the gifts are enacted.. The church today has it backwards. We are always trying to create something that only God has the power to do.

  36. Pradeep Shetty on July 2, 2015 at 10:15 am

    I can’t think of anyone else right now other than me ! May be God willing I should take this call. Thank you so much for the thought starter. It’s definitely like Peter jumping out of the boat experience….thanx again.

  37. Zachary Verbracken on June 23, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Great article, Carey. I think one of the greatest frustrations for anybody in ministry is working at a church with a pastor who only wants to manage things on a week-to-week basis instead of leading the church into the future.

    Thanks for saying what a lot of people would be afraid to say.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 24, 2015 at 7:56 am

      Thanks Zachary. I think sometimes we just need to be honest. Don’t mind taking one for the team. 🙂

  38. Rich n Connie on May 31, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    May I share in this conversation from the perspective of one who provides ministry at the most vulnerable time in a church member’s life…their journey into dying and death. It is usually the “Entrepreneurial Church Leader” that has not the time nor desire to provide ministry to the patient or grieving family. You see, I am a Spiritual Care Manager at a major hospice, directing the work of 19 Chaplains that provide spiritual support and care to over 800 patients. Of course, if you ask this “Entrepreneurial Church Leader” his philosophy of ministry he will normally go to Ephesians 4:11-12 and hide behind this passage stating that it is the work of the laity to provide support for those who suffer within the church family. Seriously? He will state that he is to give himself to the study of the Word and leave the ministry details to the laity. Let me share two real-life scenarios of what we hear when providing support for the patient and family in the days and/or hours before their death… In one case, I asked the spouse if he would like me to contact his pastor to come over and be with him and his dying wife. After a full explanation of where the church was being led by this minister, the answer was a simple, “No”. Apparently, this minister was being entrepreneurial in bringing major change in worship style to this congregation in the name of reaching younger people. It wasn’t working and the church attendance was dwindling. The older people were leaving. As a result, the budget was suffering (is there a connection between the senior adults who were taught to tithe and give beyond and a healthy church budget?). Now, several members were suffering…the pain of imminent loss of life and it’s sorrow. Seems like the greatest entrepreneurial leader always had time to care for those in emotional pain. The second instance had to do with another elderly member of yet another church whose pastor was/is very vocal about the members doing the work of ministry. A side note gives further evidence of their lack of “equipping the saints”. Neither minister provided training for the laity to provide ministry in an effective manner. This long term pastor knew of the protracted illness of one of the largest giving, supportive elderly men in his church. The man had cancer and was dying. In the 6 years of this man’s journey toward death, this pastor had been to see him once in a hospital setting. His widow remains wounded not only by the pains of grief and mourning but also by the fact that she now feels she does not matter to the pastor. Oh, and by the way, in neither case is a church growing. Both are either stagnant or in steep decline.
    Is it possible to be an entrepreneurial leader and a pastor/shepherd. My belief is that it is a requirement. It seems to me that the work of the Holy Spirit indicates that the Triune God knows that people have emotional and spiritual needs and assigned the work of the Holy to Comfort, Counsel, and Companion with us. Is it really too much for a pastor to comfort his people (Isaiah 40) in their brokenness, counsel his people in their confusion, and companion with them on the difficult journey that life can often be? Just a thought ….

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 24, 2015 at 7:58 am

      Thanks for the perspective. I think the issue is that we are all called to be merciful…you just can’t and shouldn’t be the sole provider in your context which is what’s broken in the pastoral model. I am a shepherd and pastor, but of about 20 people directly (staff and elders), and really less than a dozen deeply (elders and senior staff). This allows us to minister effectively to over 2000 people as pastoral care is shifted to people in the church and everyone cares for someone…or we at least try to provide the environment where that happens.

    • RWilliams on September 21, 2016 at 11:15 am

      What I see in that scenario is how gracious God was to work through you and your ministry to provide care for that individual.

      May I ask why you believe it was that pastor’s responsibility to provide the care specifically?

  39. Mark Boughan on April 23, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Hmmmm…. while I agree with much that’s here, I’m wondering if we get beyond the dichotomizing, and consider that we are dealing with human beings who have both spiritual giftings AND human talents (if you accept THIS division), and that different situations may call for differing approaches, that the issue is fraught with complexity.

    This blog is then, from one perspective, calling for a corrective. Some of the commentators are ALSO calling for a corrective to what they’ve seen. BOTH correctives seem appropriate to me as they are correcting different things.

    Finally, even with both sides, we have a 2 legged stool. Where is the realm of biblical understanding and contextual theological acumen?

    Hmmm… do we have the beginning – or the uncovering – of a head/heart/hands schema here?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks Mark. I think we’re all committed to the Gospel…we just need more entrepreneurs. And yes, it is a corrective post. We’re pretty protective of our shepherd model.

      • Mark Boughan on April 24, 2015 at 8:18 am

        I agree. Let’s just say that my own corrective to the comments in the thread is that we have the 3 poles of: Apostle, Teacher, & Shepherd. Anytime we focus organizationally or personally on only 1 or 2 of these then we have problems. Situationally and personally we may gravitate to, or be more gifted in, 1 or 2 of them. In certain cultures (or sub-cultures !), or historical periods, we may emphasize 1 or 2 of these- perhaps to the significant detriment of our common mission.

        I believe that what’s required is an openness to the Spirit, and a willingness to analyze self and situation. This requires a humility that I can only dream of aspiring to.

  40. Alex Douglas on March 30, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Carey – thanks for this blessing. There are a couple of things that caught my eye and reached my heart from your article. The first is the biblical calling. So often this type of thinking is relegated to being “self made” or anti-faith because of the amount of effort it takes to sustain. The biblical calling at the core is to key! The second, is the emphasis you put on action. I suspect there are many people who may read this list and say, “yes, that’s me,” but only because they THINK this way, or grumble to others about these things.
    If there is one key things that makes Jesus the world/history changer that he is, it’s action!

  41. okumu Ambrose on March 28, 2015 at 6:38 am

    carey, am blessed to read your post, i need you to be my persoal mentor in the new ministry God gave me .

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 28, 2015 at 8:18 am

      Okumu…great to hear from you! I would love to be your personal mentor, but I get many requests a month for that. That’s why I write and offer my leadership podcast. I hope those help. I’d love to be personally connected but these forums allow me to share with many. Hope that helps!

  42. Aaron Scantlen on March 18, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Carey, I love your blog and read and tweet your stuff regularly. I love your heart for those of us out there blazing new trails (big and small). And I know that you are standing up for the apostolic which has been marginalized and berated by many leaders. Two things that struck me though in this article.

    1. As an apostolically and prophetically shaped leader, I am usually working and building and gathering others towards new things. But, my experience and context (not everyone’s I’m sure though) is that these things have always started small. Sometimes, they have remained small, but have sprouted or equipped many other churches and leaders/pastors/missionaries. I’m sure you didn’t mean it to come across this way, but there was an impression I felt that if your gathering is small, it’s not thinking big enough and is staying complacent. I would counter that we need MANY new churches and of ALL shapes and sizes, but we should never compromise boldly stepping out in faith to expand the kingdom.

    2. You say we need many more apostles and less shepherds. Maybe. 🙂 If everyone wanted to start something new, we’d have no one to help support and rally around the vision. Neil Cole told me a few years ago that he felt that 2% of believers were apostolic. We need a lot more shepherds than apostles. I think you mean we need to have more leaders who are apostolic, and again I would say, I think we need churches that care and support as well as churches that push and innovate. I believe that churches, like individuals, are different body parts of the same body (the Church) and will look differently, but we need all those body parts (Eph. 4:11-16). (Just so you know, I am currently serving as one of the pastors of a church of 1000 as well as church planting and leading that church of about 30, so I’m not advocating one or the other, but in fact all sizes.)

    I do agree that we need to stop attacking apostles for doing what God has made them to do. We should be celebrating all of the gifts Jesus has given to the church (us, according to Ephesians 4:11) and not being so narrow in our thinking that we believe that everyone should look and serve just as God has called and shaped us to look and serve. WE NEED APOSTLES! We also have to have prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. And as for seminary… I’m convinced that it will always be teachers teaching others to be teachers… Oh, and love your people. As apostles, when we are mature in who God has made us, we should be tapping others on the shoulder as you put it and walking with them and equipping them for their works of service. We don’t need seminary. It’s a function of the local church, in my opinion. And there are great churches with great leaders and larger resources that can do awesome things to help new leaders through a dynamic internship or process and that’s awesome! And there are individuals like myself that can take a few men and women and walk along side of them and teach and model and give opportunities to serve and lead and then kick their butts out of the nest to go multiply the kingdom elsewhere! God is so good to us and He is so cool! What a mighty God we serve!

    Thanks for all you do Carey and keep pushing people to think and reevaluate themselves, their ministry, and their path in life.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 28, 2015 at 8:20 am

      Aaron, love the way you’ve thought thought this issue. I think I agree with everything you’re saying. We do need churches of all shapes and sizes, and I can buy the 2% of leaders are apostles stat. That rings true. My guess is that most of those 2% are not in ministry today. How I wish that was different.

      Aaron, thanks for some intelligent discussion. Be encouraged in all you’re doing!

      • Aaron Scantlen on March 29, 2015 at 2:43 pm

        Great point Carey, I think we do have a lot of apostles who aren’t operating out of who God has made them. For some, it may be fear. For others, they may be in a situation where they are being held back and are trying to submit to leadership, even if they are wrong. And for others, they may just not even know that they are apostles and God has uniquely built them to get things going! Which is why your posts, encouraging and inspiring others to plant and multiply the kingdom is so necessary. We need to identify and inspire others and equip them for the work of service that Jesus has gifted them to the body for.

  43. greg walker on March 11, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    My wife and I have been thrashing around in #3 for several years now.

    My first thought is that entrepreneur and shepherd do not have to be considered a dichotomy.

    I’m late to the pastoral fold; I’m a retired Army officer and successful businessman who left all of that to follow God’s call on our lives. I’m serving as a volunteer associate pastor in a struggling church. Our entire church bureaucracy from the denominational leadership down is built to perpetuate an outdated model, and serves very well to perpetuate a lukewarm, ticket-to-heaven faith.

    I guess I’m on the right track, because of late, my desire has been to start with a clean whiteboard and build a church. Keep writing, Corey. You are stirring up great things that the Church needs to wrestle with.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 11, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Thanks for what you’re doing Greg, and thanks for the encouragement.

  44. Pastor Bob on March 4, 2015 at 10:04 am

    I think you’re on to something here and I see why there is some confusion. My perception is that we need those who are shepherds for their small flock AND Entrepreneurs for the Kingdom at the same time. The idea is to “feed my sheep” and to go and get some more sheep to bring them into the flock.

    When you think about the life of Jesus he is frequently in the Temple and Synagogue teaching and preaching. And he is in community with the twelve and others feeding and making disciples. Jesus does some wonderful things in the boat like calming a strom. But he gets out of the boat to show Peter how to walk on water, to show the disciples how to feed 5000 and to cast out demons for a man who lives in the toombs.

    If you can get your mind and heart around being in and out of the boat…its a good thing and a thing we need now and in the future.

  45. Eagle36 on February 27, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    When I saw the title of this post I clicked on it immediately because it looked like something I have been dealing with in my own life. (In fact, I will be presenting a session on Ministry Entrepreneurship at a conference in a week so maybe I can “borrow” some things from this post.) As I read it I couldn’t help but feel like it was describing me and why I act and feel the way I do. Every point (1-5) help describe me and I had to read them to my wife because they were so right on. But here’s the problem, most churches don’t want “ministry entrepreneurs” in them – they are happy with the status quo even if there is only 6 or 8 people left in the church. I know this from experience. I have also been on staff in a larger church and was always looking for ways to help push the church outside the walls but there was a lot of push back from others including leadership and church members. The church has been in decline for a long time but they are content with doing everything inside of the church walls even though it continues to shrink. I am on the outside now in another town leading a ministry where I encourage new ideas all of the time and it is great. I have the freedom to be who God has called me to be and help others become who God has called them to be without putting them in a box. I have tried to work with some local churches in starting new ministries in the community outside of the church buildings but they just aren’t interested no matter how much I try. Even the people in the church I attend regularly aren’t interested and don’t show up. They are content with doing their thing in the church week after week even though there are rarely any new people and when new people come, they rarely come back. There doesn’t seem to be any concern about that. They are happy, well-fed and comfortable in the pen. When I sit there on Sunday morning all I can think about is – “Is there something we can be doing other than sitting here on a Sunday morning? Is there somebody we could be ministering to outside of the church walls?”

    This tension inside of the church is evident by the comments I have read below. People get their feelings hurt and choose sides pretty quickly. I see the gifts being expressed in competition way more than teamwork most of the time. Shepherds don’t want apostles in their midst because they rock the boat and cause people to become uncomfortable. They are also afraid that people will leave and follow the apostle which will decrease their numbers and income. Those inside the church who are satisfied with the status quo fight to keep it that way because they don’t want to lose their comfort – they love getting their needs met every week. The reason there are so many “para-church ministries” (a completely un-biblical term or idea) is because the apostles or “ministry entrepreneurs” are forced to go follow their gifting somewhere else – they are not wanted or allowed to function inside the church so they leave to start their own ministries to fulfill who Jesus is calling them to be.

    Jesus told us that a “house divided cannot stand” and we are divided way more than we are unified as Christians in this country. And the evidence is clear – the division in the church causes an even greater division between us and those outside of the church. We are not functioning as a team and Satan is winning the battle inside of our walls and in the culture. It’s time to quit fighting against each other and work together to become a team that storms the gates of hell instead of sitting in the bunker hoping somebody else will do the job so we don’t have to get our hands dirty or give up our comforts.

    Thank you Carey for all that you do to push us out of our comfortable boxes. Keep up the good work!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 4, 2015 at 10:22 am

      Eagle…love your heart. Thanks for sharing and keep going. We need more entrepreneurs!

  46. Donna Stratford on February 26, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    I’m in LOVE with this guy.

  47. Tim Lewis on February 20, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    This is why I’ve always viewed Eph. 4:11-13 as the “ministry incubator” verse. Every large town in the U.S. has “start-up incubators” which give basic facilities to enable a new idea to get off the ground, help to get it to the next step, building teams and guidance to judge when the experiment didn’t work. Sometimes churches get to caught up in involving people in the “church’s” ministry rather than enabling them in their own. Not the church as the “ministry center” but the “ministry enabling center” Admittedly it is a 21st century lens, so it has its own distortions as, such as a tendency (if not careful) towards individualism and free-marketism

  48. VolvoDriver on February 17, 2015 at 10:02 am

    1. Move to a growing, white, wealthy, suburban area.
    2. Set up a church like a business.
    3. Do business that focuses on numbers, primarily pulling people out of other churches.
    4. Tell everybody about your awesome successes. Write about it. Broadcast it. Podcast it.

    Or do what Jesus did.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 17, 2015 at 11:14 am

      Your cynicism is heartbreaking. And the truth is, Jesus hung around all people. Including the kind of people who were educated and lived in the suburbs. One of them bought his tomb.

      • VolvoDriver on February 17, 2015 at 12:57 pm

        My cynicism is borne from years of working among homeless, broken, poor and despised people – people who are shunned by your modern rich white suburban wannabe mega-churches.

        It takes a LOT of money to be a modern American Christian – completely with state-of-the-art technology and gymnasiums (ooops, I mean Family Life Centers).

        Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of money to be a Jesus following Christian. Just a passion for ALL people.

        And no, you are wrong about where Jesus spent his time, and whom he spent his time with. Very wrong.

        • Carey Nieuwhof on February 17, 2015 at 6:39 pm

          I don’t think I know how to have a discussion with you. I admire what you do. I mean that sincerely. I’m not a fan of how you judge everyone who isn’t like you. God bless you. You’re doing great work. I don’t think you’re the only one though. I really don’t.

          • VolvoDriver on February 17, 2015 at 7:27 pm

            It’s the attitude, Carey. The attitude of arrogance and obvious condescension toward those who aren’t in bustling wealthy suburban churches. I would invite you to read what you, and others like you, write. It is very judgmental toward those who don’t “do church” like you do. Seriously.
            There are pastors in tiny churches, in dying rural communities, who are doing absolutely awesome work. There are less people living in their counties than the number who attend your church – and there are fewer and fewer people living in these areas all the time. Are they failures because they’re not at a wealthy suburban church that is located in a rapidly growing area? Are you willing to risk your comfortable lifestyle to boldly go minister in such and area?
            I am friends with one pastor who literally lives in a “tent city” among the “worst” of the homeless in our city. He walked away from a ministry just like yours to minister among the neediest of our city. He has had very few “conversions,” and most of those he has had have fallen off the wagon. Is he a failure because he doesn’t oversee a multi-million dollar budget? I see him literally epitomizing the 5 things you suggest in this blog, but in a ways that you simply cannot imagine.
            Now before you simply brush me off as a curmudgeon (something you’ve already done, because you don’t like what I’m saying), I want to issue you a challenge:
            Before you write another blog or jet off to your next speaking engagement, I dare you to boldly take a risk, step out of your status quo, take a risk and go spend time among the people in the Samaria and Galilee of your city. I don’t mean take up a special offering and mail it to a homeless shelter. I mean go live and minister among them. Spend time with them. Get to know them. Love them. Cry with them. Eat meals with them. Go visit them in the hospitals. Go minister “unto the least of these,” like Jesus did.

            If you re willing to do what I’ve challenged you to do, I will guarantee you that you’ll see Jesus like you have NEVER seen Him before.

          • Nicole on February 28, 2015 at 7:32 pm

            I’m sorry volvodriver, but it seems that of the two of you, you have much more arrogance and condescension. “Or if you’d like to be boldly apostolic, follow those of us who followed the example of the apostle Paul.” Wow. Well done. Not a spot of arrogance or condescension there.
            Of the two of you, I am way more turned off by your judgmental and mean-spirited attitude. You don’t know the heart of one person you just stereotyped. Only God can truly know and judge the hearts of others. And, though you obviously fancy yourself a modern-day Paul, you must definitely aren’t God.
            I certainly hope God softens your heart towards all his children, because rich or poor, God loves them equally, even if you don’t.

          • VolvoDriver on February 28, 2015 at 7:50 pm

            Please stay in your comfortable, wealthy, white suburban mega-church, Nicole. That’s where you belong.

          • Carey Nieuwhof on March 1, 2015 at 8:29 am

            Dear Volvo driver. Please stop leaving comments like this. You’re not helping anybody. Sorry.

          • Nicole on March 1, 2015 at 11:26 am

            Haha! Wow. Well….You walked into this.
            If only you knew me. There’s a chance we might have even been friends. You assume that I’m unlike you? Not passionate for the least of these? ….what made you judge me? My correct grammar? My seemingly “white” name?
            Just so you are aware, I am by no means wealthy, nor is my church. I teach English (hence the correct speech) at a small Christian school smack dab in the poorest neighborhood in my city. I make 19 thousand a year before taxes. I live with two other teachers in an apartment close to the school, because it’s cheaper to walk. Most of my school is on scholarship from very generous wealthy people, who, judge all you like, are kind and decent Christians. My church shares a building with the school, and on Sundays we serve food for the homeless in our area. I taught in downtown St Louis for five years through a program called Teach for America after I graduated college. I fell in love with those kids, and I’ve dedicated my life to serving the neighborhood where I live. No, I don’t pack and move every year. My kids need stability, so I try to stay for at least 4 or 5 years. Although this sounds like I’m boasting, I’m only saying all this because I feel you should know.
            I pray for you and your hard heart; you don’t even realize how deep your hypocrisy and judgmental nature go. I am not wealthy, do not attend a wealthy church…nor is it “mega”. I stumbled on this article because my parents emailed it to me.
            I am sad that I knew you would judge me so quickly, knowing nothing about my life.
            You don’t know that I spend my days pouring out love on children who come from broken homes and children who struggle to eat three meals a day. Or that I also love those students who have plenty to eat and aren’t struggling for money. You didn’t ask. See, being a Christ-follower demands that I love all people, even if I don’t agree with them.
            I hope you learn to speak your opinions in love instead of hatred. Thankfully, I fell in love with Christ long ago, so your comments don’t bother me…But be careful with your words. The tongue is the most dangerous part of the body, and yours is sharp (not in a good way).
            I do hope God blesses you and your ministry, and I’m sorry that we can’t agree. I’m sorry that you seem to hate me so much, when we don’t even know each other’s last names….how sad Jesus must be when he sees us sometimes.

          • Carey Nieuwhof on March 1, 2015 at 5:17 pm

            Nicole…thank you for your response. I’ve banned VolvoDriver from leaving comments on the blog. He won’t be able to respond to you. It’s my blog, and in my view he strayed outside the lines of common decency. I appreciate honest, heartfelt response. I appreciate how you’re serving God faithfully where you are. Be encouraged, and thanks for your grace.

          • Nicole on March 1, 2015 at 9:58 pm

            Thank you. I didn’t realize you had also posted.
            I agree about honest discussion. Christ’s followers and servants are all in different places serving in different ways, and I think that is beautiful!
            May God bless you as you seek him, as well.

          • timbole on March 2, 2016 at 7:36 pm

            Nicole…I don’t know you but God Bless you!! You’re kind of my hero right now 🙂

          • Chuck on March 26, 2015 at 2:49 pm

            God bless you. You get it. Don’t back down. The Gospel is the last thing from these mega churches and their sermons on tithing and financial security in God. Every sermon should be considered relevant no matter if you are a middle-class suburbanite or a Syrian Christian about to be beheaded. We in America don’t read our Bibles and have no clue what the Gospel is really about because we are lazy in the Word. We get sucked into having our ears tickled instead of suffering for Christ. God is going to change that. Persecution is coming to the Church in America. That will divide the sheep from the goats. God has always done this, we just haven’t experienced it yet. 911 is just the beginning. God will allow a people worse than us to bring us to Him or to run away from Him. It’s coming. “Entrepreneurs.” Right.

  49. Nathan C. Morales on January 18, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    I am a 39 year old pastor of a church of 80 people. I find it curious that if a pastor is leading a small congregation to the best of his ability, he is lauded as a spiritual shepherd of his people. But if a pastor happens to lead a large congregation (or has grown a large congregation), somehow he is a sell out. If a pastor is leading his congregation to spread the gospel in new and innovative ways, he is somehow advocating a kind of McChurch. It tends to be the people not having success that berate those that do.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on January 18, 2015 at 7:26 pm

      Nathan…I think you nailed it. That’s the issue. So true!

  50. Glen on December 24, 2014 at 12:12 am

    Though there are some nuggets in this article to glean, overall it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. In John 21, Jesus reinstates one of his core of inner disciples and key leaders of His 1st century church. What does he say to Peter- “Tend my lambs” and “Shepherd my sheep.” Wow, that seems antithetical to what is being suggested here! It seems that the art shepherding, which is really at the heart of what a pastor is both theologically and etymologically, has been lost. Perhaps the reason we have churches that are a mile wide and an inch deep (i.e. many megachurches) is that we have far too many “rock star” entrepreneurial leaders and far fewer true shepherds who are willing to lay down their life for the sheep; far to many “hired hands” (John 10:12-13) who aren’t really concerned about the condition of the sheep, and far too few “good shepherds” who model the very life of Christ. I too believe in the gift of apostleship, but I don’t think such individuals are called to lead churches. They are called to be itinerant evangelists and church planters like Paul.

  51. Lance on October 9, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    C.S. Lewis – “While we believe that good is something to be invented, we demand of our rulers such qualities as ‘vision’, ‘dynamism’, ‘creativity’, and the like. If we returned to the objective view we should demand qualities much rarer, and much more beneficial—virtue, knowledge, diligence and skill. ‘Vision’ is for sale, or claims to be for sale, everywhere. But give me a man who will do a day’s work for a day’s pay, who will refuse bribes, who will not make up his facts, and who has learned his job.”

    I think Lewis would find our incessant search for the entrepreneurial solutions in the church a participation in the cultural soup of subjectivism. We are better than that. Jesus has given us a participation in the very life of the Triune God.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 13, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      He has for sure Lance. Thank you. But apostleship is very much a gift that the Holy Spirit has given the church as well. It is underdeveloped in the current church. And you can be an apostle deeply rooted in the Triune God.

  52. Kelly on July 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Carey, I am hoping you can help with this, since you started this discussion a few months ago. I posted this question back in March, but never got a response, so I’ll try again:

    Does you have an advice for a ministry-minded entrepreneur who is NOT called to be a senior pastor? Several times, we went to small churches, hoping to help, with the idea that even small churches deserve good pastors and good leadership. But we ran into roadblocks when the leaders were either: completely unmotivated, wasteful, and/or primarily concerned about job security and keeping themselves (and their family on payroll).
    Entrepreneurs on the other hand, get things done (and often expose waste in the process), try to define the mission (or get the mission defined by the one in charge), set goals and work toward those goals. That doesn’t go over well with many churches.

    So how can we get involved in an entrepreneurial-minded ministry? Where can I find one? I’ve tried contacting one of those para-church organizations, where they help connect high capacity ministry leaders. But they only allow people to join who are already serving at a church of 3000 people. And my emails to them go unanswered.

    I really feel like there is no place for my spouse and I in most churches. We are experienced, successful and driven. We have tried getting “plugged in” at a big church and waiting for an opportunity to arise, but unless someone is specifically hired to be a change agent and lead on a higher level, it always ends badly. So what next? Where can a entrepreneurial non senior pastor go to serve and use his giftings? Our passion in life is ministry, and it breaks my heart to see my husband’s abilities, talents, and many years of experience going unused because he doesn’t fit into the typical pastor mold.

    Can you help?

    • Douglas Crumbly on July 14, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      Kelly, thanks fir your comments. I also believe many gifted leaders go unused because of the same reason. Would love to see more entrepreneurs in the church I lead. Blessings!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 14, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Kelly…first, let me just say I’m sorry I missed your comment. I apologize.

      Secondly, that’s a real shame. We are always looking for leaders where I serve, and it’s too bad that hasn’t been your experience.

      I’m going to be dead level honest here. First, I really have no idea why. It could be that you have just targeted some bad churches or that your offers have been lost in the shuffle.

      What I look for is people who are willing to serve wherever – setting up gear, handing out programs etc. Our teams often sense quickly if someone has greater gifting, and then we tap them on the shoulder and get to know them and ask them if they’d like more. To me and to our team, a leader’s willingness to serve in a ‘lower’ place of leadership is an indication they’re ready for a higher level of service. You and your husband may have been doing this and never gotten the tap on the shoulder, but if not, I suggest it. So I would say jump in and see what happens.

      Now, for the last part of the dead level honest part. Sometimes people think they are a gift to leadership but they aren’t. Either the fit isn’t right, or they might be mistaken in their self assessment. There is NOTHING in your comment that would lead me to believe this, but quite honestly, this has happened more than once in the environments in which I’ve served. The best way to tell if that’s the case is to get some people around you who will tell you the truth and see if that’s an accurate assessment of your situation. Again, I have ZERO reason to believe it is in your case, but it happens.

      Hope that helps. My best advice knowing what I know about your situation is to jump in somewhere at an ‘entry-level’ post and see what happens.

      Hope this helps! Thanks for asking Kelly.

  53. Scott Pollard on July 9, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    The problem is a lot of entrepreneurs are really good when things are exciting and new but they get bored and don’t know how to maintain the health of what they have started.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 12, 2014 at 7:44 am

      Thanks for this point Scott. Have you read E-Myth Revisited? Great book on this point. And I agree, some people are starters. But when the body of Christ moves in and all the gifts are at work, others can help manage and finish was entrepreneurs start. It’s the entreprenuer gift set that’s missing in many circles these days.

  54. Douglas Crumbly on July 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Thank you Carey! I read your blog often. This is a great article.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 12, 2014 at 7:44 am

      Hey Douglas, thanks!

  55. Eugene on July 9, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Thank you very much for your sharing! just a thought: Have we confined the receipient of shepherding to be Christians within the church? how does a shepherd that sheperd the community beyond the four walls of a church looks like?

    • Carey Nieuwhof on July 12, 2014 at 7:46 am

      Eugene…great question. I think we have in the church today in some circles, but it needn’t be that way…nor should it be that way. When the shepherding gift gets outside the walls, it too becomes outward focused and part of the church’s mandate for evangelism. Outsiders need shepherding too.

  56. BH on May 31, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Fantastic! Love, love, love it. The challenge is that even if/when entrepreneurial leaders are found, are churches willing & able to invest in outrageous visions, new manifestations of church, before they reach a crisis point (or even after they reach a crisis point). I’d love a follow-up article on how to help churches move to a place where they want to invest in the vision.

  57. Jason Heppner on May 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    awesome work here carey! thank you for sharing. great thoughts to chew on and implement sooner rather than later. actually, screw later. now is the time!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on May 15, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Love the sense of urgency Jason.—

      • prophetsandpopstars on May 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm

        It’s awesome to see my staff interacting here. Thanks Jason!

        I wonder if it’s an issue of development as I spend a lot of time thinking about this. Sheep farms need shepherds to care for them, but they need entreprenuers to continue and grow. Perhaps this is where we jump into the five fold ministry conversation.

        I’ll stop before I write a post. Peace out! Thanks, Carey.

  58. Why we need more shepherds | Teddy Ray on May 6, 2014 at 6:31 am

    […] Several weeks ago, Carey Nieuwhof wrote a piece titled “Why we need more entrepreneurial church leaders, not more shepherds.” […]

  59. I Love Shepherds on April 25, 2014 at 1:00 am

    Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you. — Luke 10:20
    As Christian workers, worldliness is not our snare, sin is not our snare, but spiritual wantoning is, viz.: taking the pattern and print of the religious age we live in, making eyes at spiritual success. Never court anything other than the approval of God, go “without the camp, bearing His reproach.” Jesus told the disciples not to rejoice in successful service, and yet this seems to be the one thing in which most of us do rejoice. We have the commercial view – so many souls saved and sanctified, thank God, now it is all right. Our work begins where God’s grace has laid the foundation; we are not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace; our work as His disciples is to disciple lives until they are wholly yielded to God. One life wholly devoted to God is of more value to God than one hundred lives simply awakened by His Spirit. As workers for God we must reproduce our own kind spiritually, and that will be God’s witness to us as workers. God brings us to a standard of life by His grace, and we are responsible for reproducing that standard in others.

    Unless the worker lives a life hidden with Christ in God, he is apt to become an irritating dictator instead of an indwelling disciple. Many of us are dictators, we dictate to people and to meetings. Jesus never dictates to us in that way. Whenever Our Lord talked about discipleship, He always prefaced it with an “IF,” never with an emphatic assertion – “You must.” Discipleship carries an option with it.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 25, 2014 at 10:30 am

      I love your emphasis on God’s grace. Thank you. You are so right, that’s the foundation of everything the authentic church, and authentic leadership, is built on.

      But I also think that true spiritual entrepreneurs are not dictators. Not at all. They reflect the same heart you share. It’s just expressed differently through their work in terms of building the church. But they have the same heart.

  60. Pastor E A Green on April 23, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Wow! What an interesting take on the apostleship. You seem to have missed a few things. You present it as shining example of marvelous entrepreneurial success. Somehow, you skipped all that went along with that “successful” ministry you reference – like persecution, beatings, shipwrecks, riots, death threats, stoning, hunger, thirst, cold, abandonment, all hell breaking loose everywhere he went – oh yeah, and the chopping block. Is this the “entrepreneur/apostle” your telling us we need? I don’t think so.

    The point, is this. God’s ways are not ours. Take Gideon, for example. 28,000 down to 300 – what an entrepreneur this guy was! But God doesn’t get glory from our expertise on church planting and growth, gaudy numbers, and the church we thought up in our heads. More time in the Word, prayer, and service in the House of God is what the Bible teaches. We need apostles and shepherds who look and talk like Jesus, not like us. That’s what the Word teaches, and that’s what matters.

    • Mickey DeAngelo on February 16, 2015 at 10:12 pm

      “like persecution, beatings, shipwrecks, riots, death threats, stoning, hunger, thirst, cold, abandonment, all hell breaking loose everywhere he went – oh yeah, and the chopping block. Is this the “entrepreneur/apostle” your telling us we need?”— YES!!!!!! and YES again!!!!! That is exactly the type of bold, selfless, Spirit-led leaders the church needs! Go to China, Korea, Africa- it is through these same type of men that the Church is grown today. I pray that our country continues to decline and that we come under real persecution in this country- I believe it is then and only then that we can see the power of His Spirit through men that lead in this type of way!

  61. Pastor E A Green on April 23, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Your take on the church is interesting, and sadly unbiblical. You have taken your definitions and defined the Body of Christ, instead of actually letting the Bible speak for itself. God never describes Himself as an “entrepeneur,” and He is never concerned about meeting your standards for success. It seems you have a clear idea of what the ideal church is, yet The Lord is not the least bit interested in what you (or I) think is ideal.

    You start from a fallacy that the Church is broken, and you know how to fix it. That, quite frankly, is the kind of arrogance that nullifies everything you say. The last time I checked, God is still on the throne, and He doesn’t need us to tell Him how the Church should really work. If you can get pass the church as you see it, and truly see the Body of Christ, you’ll realize it is not up to us to figure anything out – but to obey the and Word of The Lord, walk in the light, and share the Good News of the Christ wherever and whenever The Lord leads.

    Childlike faith says The Lord knows who are His, and He will not lose even one. Entrepreneurship says, “It won’t happen unless we figure it out and make it so.” Good luck with that!

    • vincenta123 on April 24, 2014 at 10:12 am

      Pastor Green
      I agree with much of your sentiment, mainly on the need to keep things biblically centred.
      Where I really disagree with you is that in your apparent haste to ‘correct’ the above article, you’ve not distilled the essence of what’s really been said. For example you seem to have stumbled, like others, over the use of the word ‘entrepreneur’…rather than appreciate the spiritual concepts CN was trying to capture by using that specific word. I suggest you read through the comments and some of CN’s clarifications for a better understanding.
      Also, to me it did not seem that CN is trying to ‘fix’ a broken church. There are MANY issues with the Lord’s bride, insular shepherds and lack of recognising the gift of apostleship are only two of them and the above article says as much.
      I’m sure CN could have written the above article using ‘safer’ more ‘Christian’ language…yet he chose not to and he got my attention and that of others who may/may not have looked in (for better or worse) on that discussion!

      Sometimes we stumble more over language than actual content.

      The modern church certainly has to be VERY careful with worldliness (as had every church in every age) but that does not mean using secular paradigms to illustrate spiritual truths is a no-no. Our Lord used this framework repeatedly in His parables to help people understand the Kingdom of God better.

      • Pastor E A Green on April 24, 2014 at 5:36 pm

        Thank you for your response. I did not “stumble” over language. I fully understand what “entrepreneur” means – and its meaning has nothing to do with apostles. CN’s assretion that the church does not need more shepherds is small-minded at best, seeing The Lord give pastors to the church to equip, lead, teach, mature, and serve His purposes for His beloved children. Do we truly need less of these servants.

        Perhaps we are guilty of casting aspersions on pastors because of our own personal experiences, which can lead to the kind of anti-pastor bitterness I detect in CN’s article. Pastors have been the most positve spiritual influences in my life, in spite of their humanity – and they are an essential part of God’s plan to purifu His bride and prepare her for His return. Let’s stop trying to re-shape the church in our image. Experts, paradigms, entrepreneurialism, etc. will never accomplish what Holy Spirit filled Christians wiil, when they have been well pastored.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 25, 2014 at 10:27 am

      “You start from a fallacy that the Church is broken, and you know how to fix it. That, quite frankly, is the kind of arrogance that nullifies everything you say.”

      E.A….so glad you’ve got this all figured out. Best wishes.

      • Pastor E A Green on April 25, 2014 at 3:41 pm

        Your position and position on how you see church are understandable. However, your disdain for pastors is obvious and regrettable. Best wishes back to you.

        • vincenta123 on April 25, 2014 at 5:13 pm

          I don’t think CN disdains pastors/shepherds in general at all. He’s just shone some light on how, by not fully embracing Apostolic gifting (and therefore Apostolic thinking etc), shepherds can become insular, risk averse and maintenance focused.
          That’s not denigration of the pastoral gifting, it’s a call to healthier more biblical church planting and pastoring. ALL the Eph 4:11 gifts should be released throughout the body of Christ in a healthy balance for a healthy church.

          • Pastor E A Green on April 26, 2014 at 6:51 pm

            CN’s statement that we don’t need more shepherds speaks for itself. It is an erroneous and unbiblical foundation for his argument. Therefore, everything he (and you) build on it is also unbiblical and erroneous.

            True shepherds are God’s gift to the Body, not entrepreneurs. Btw, it’s ok to admit you’re wrong.

          • Carey Nieuwhof on April 26, 2014 at 8:47 pm

            I don’t want to get into an argument about what I believe or don’t believe, but I think I know what I think. It’s not that we don’t need shepherds. We do. It’s a legitimate spiritual gift. But so is apostleship (spiritual entrepreneurship). Shepherding is, in my view, plentiful in the church. Apostleship not nearly so. That’s why I wrote this piece.

          • Chuck on March 26, 2015 at 3:15 pm

            Jesus didn’t say to make converts, he said to make disciples. That is not happening in the Church in America. There is opinionated teaching, not based on the Jewish heritage of the Bible, and that’s about it. A large church leaves people on their own to be discipled. You can’t expect some person who is newer in the faith to grab a book, let’s pick, The Shack, start a small group, and disciple people. One, they don’t really know the Word. Two, The Shack is popular, yet highly unbiblical. So the sheep don’t get fed. They get some quasi-Christian book fed to them and they come out with an unbiblical view of God. That is life in a large church here in America. Would they teach from the Bible? Probably not. It’s boring to most Christians in the country. Two, at best he/she doesn’t know the Word well enough to serve it to the sheep in the small group.

            The pastor is to feed the sheep. Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. He shows up at the hospital at 2am, cares for the elderly, sacrifices his time and energy to hold the flock together. That can’t happen in a church of more than 100 people. It’s impossible. A pastor with more than 100 believers will leave the sheep unfed and then they stray. Did Jesus go after the one in his flock of 1000? No. He said 100. There is a reason He said that. He didn’t pull that number out of thin air.

            Church is not about marketing and entrepreneurship. It’s about reading the Word, studying the Word, following the Holy Spirit so that Christ leads it, and worshipping in spirit and truth. Want to see marketing? See Rick Warren and Bill Hybles. They followed the marketing guru Peter Drucker. That is the reason for the state of the church here.

          • vincenta123 on April 27, 2014 at 3:21 am

            Shepherds are God’s gifts all right, but they’re not His ONLY gift. They’re certainly not called to express their ministry in exclusivity but in a complimentary context.

          • Carey Nieuwhof on April 27, 2014 at 5:17 am

            Absolutely Vincenta. Couldn’t agree more. —
            Sent from Mailbox

  62. […] a blog post by Carey Nieuwhof, Lead Pastor at Connexus Church in Toronto, Canada, entitled “Why we need more entrepreneurial church leaders, not more shepherds.”  In it, he argues that what the Church as lost is leadership that has at its very core an […]

  63. rcortezsd on April 22, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I am going to have to disagree with this post.

    We are not all called to build a Walmart but we are all called to build.

    Although I do believe that all those quality’s are useful for any type of business however, I think we have lost the whole purpose of the church.

    I think this is because of our western mentality. We measure success by how much we have. But according to the Bible you can have a allot and still be a failure. Yes even have a mega church and still fail.

    Jesus was not attracted to mega churches. He had a church of more than 5,000 at one time but at the end of his ministry he ended up with 120. Now to us we would label that failure. But Jesus was not after quantity but quality.

    If you read the rebukes of the 6 churches in the book of Revelations, non of them had anything to do with numbers. It had to do with worldliness and falling away. And the dangers with mega churches is that they can get so caught up with numbers and use that as a validation for there success when in reality the church is just growing fat and not up.

    We should all try to strive to grow and make no excuse for it but don’t forget that shepherd is a biblical term and not Entrepreneur. So if you have a small church or large church, don’t forget the main thing. Getting your people to heaven not getting people to your church.

    (angry preacher! LOL) – Ruben Cortez

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 23, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Ruben…seems like you have quite a stated opinion about megachurches. Thanks for the humour at the end. 🙂 I don’t think the spiritual gift of apostleship was designed to create Walmarts, but it has been used in every generation to lead thousands of people into a growing relationship with Jesus.

      • rcortezsd on April 23, 2014 at 2:17 pm

        Great post though! Thanks for sharing. God Bless!

  64. This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg on April 1, 2014 at 9:45 am

    […] Nieuwhof shared his perspective on “Why we need more entrepreneurial church leaders, not more shepherds.” What do you think?  Nieuwhof shares 5 things that entrepreneurial leaders bring and offer: […]

  65. Bob on March 31, 2014 at 11:49 am

    In our congregations there is an great many leaders, the key word you use is “capable” “Capable Leaders” are always trying to be better leaders and create empowering organizations where the right thing is done for the right reason. Great leaders have all had Good Mentors and mentors that demonstrated how not to do something. Capable Leaders have been empowered at times to expand their leadership skills. Moses, had a mentor that helped him find a way to work through his doubts. Maybe it is good mentors and empowers our churches really need. If you ask the children in your congregations who can lead the parade of palm waving children you will find many that feel they have the gift of leadership. That feeling maybe suppressed by the very people that should be nurturing and empowering it as our children grow. Are we really looking for leaders or are we seeking managers for our programs. We need to let our leaders lead and help them to find better ways to lead.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on April 2, 2014 at 10:22 am

      I agree Bob. We need leaders to lead, managers to manage and so on.

  66. Chris Lema on March 30, 2014 at 12:45 am

    I will tell you, and I know you wrote about some of this recently in another post, that one of the hardest challenges the US church faces today is that the context and constructs within the church are much more aligned towards shepherding than to apostleship.

    Folks that want to get in boats, that don’t have perfect plans, that just want to do something, that are willing to take risks – those kinds of folks (and I’m speaking from very personal experience) end up having to develop two sets of skills to function in the larger church body.

    First, they must keep that entrepreneurial / apostleship bent going. They have to stay on fire. They have to keep spinning new ideas and trying things while assembling small teams to help them.

    But that’s not work, because it’s in our DNA. No, it’s the other work that’s much harder.

    Because at the same time, they must learn to shape their message into language that sounds less aggressive – because any change to the status quo can be felt as an accusation or indictment. They must learn to deal with bureaucracy, red tape and other ways to say “meetings, process, and procedure.” They must learn to deal with people who are slow and model tons of grace with those who consistently drop the ball.

    Eventually those entrepreneurs either step into leadership to really make things happen, or more likely, they walk away – aware that the organization isn’t prepared for them.

    I helped start 5 software companies over a period of ten years. I also helped church plants over the same decade. It was very similar in terms of the entrepreneurial risks, and skills needed. But I’ll tell you that in the business context, the skills were embraced. In the church context, it was a challenge.

    I think you’re right on when it comes to the need for more apostleship. But unless it comes from the very top, with full support from the executive leadership and (elder) board, it’s hard to make things happen.

    Fortunately, my story resulted in working alongside a senior pastor that really knew how to leverage entrepreneurs and so my second decade in volunteer ministry was wildly different and a blast!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 30, 2014 at 7:43 am

      Chris..thank you so much for this. It’s so helpful to see the frustration of an entrepreneur spelled out so clearly. It’s often not for lack of desire than the contribution of entrepreneurs is thwarted…that’s for sure. So glad you’ve found a fit and I hope and pray church leaders and leaders of all organizations can make more room for entrepreneurial leaders.

  67. Mark Dance on March 29, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I appreciate your use of modern metaphors to help communicate these timeless truths. That is exactly what the biblical writers did to communicate to their contemporaries.

    I am praying for an opportunity this week to have that conversation with a potential leader who wants to help expand the kingdom through his or her gifts. *hopefully my use of the term “leader” doesn’t offend anyone:-)

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 30, 2014 at 7:43 am

      Love this Mark!

    • Bob on March 31, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Every conversation you have is with a potential leader.

  68. LoveGodCleanHouse on March 29, 2014 at 11:15 am

    God – there is nothing worse than using the hypercapitalist euphamism “entrepreneur” for something as sacred as apostleship. Can we re-frame the dialogue please? It’s not a marketplace for souls. If you want to avoid being “misread” then use clearer language.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 30, 2014 at 7:45 am

      Thanks for your point, but I disagree. If you’re going to keep the gift of apostleship misunderstood in this culture, don’t tie it to a term people understand. If you want the gift to be leveraged, use analogies that help people find their calling. Apostleship actually is spiritual entrepreneurship.

  69. patrick on March 29, 2014 at 12:43 am

    Truth and nothing but the truth. That is what lead me to the ministry. I agree with the validity of small churches and certainly, they serve a vital importance to the furtherance of the gospel but one usually assumes that small is a design rather than a default/consequence. The lack of entrepreneurial leaders in the church today does more to reflect the problem than affect the problem. This generation is unreachable, nearly, with the lack of innovation and boldness that is representative of the Apostle approach. The abundance of Sheppard’s have served and will continue to serve as expressions of God’s will for the people to be guided but shepherding is not synonymous with corporate leadership; the Apostle is the CEO of Vision, Church Business, Market Place Strategy, Faith Brand Manager and Ministries. How we lost the boldness of the Apostle method is more than disheartening, especially given that the church has the best product in the world. I believe we are quickly approaching the time where entrepreneurial leadership is not only going to be the standard — regardless of the size of church, but it will be the only way that churches survive and thrive in the 21st Century.

  70. Rev. Fay Blevins on March 28, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    I think this is a well-written article that speaks truth to the current church culture in the U.S. I graduated seminary 4 years ago next month. I was on fire and had great energy and hope to help lead and transform a congregation. The leadership and I, with the support of the congregation, followed a denominationally sponsored transformation program. We were doing fair, amidst the natural anxiety that occurs when settled congregation take a real look at themselves. I went on maternity leave and was asked not to come back. The leadership got scared and took an easy (and unethical) way out of doing the work needed to be relevant and thriving.
    I truly believe most pastors, especially in the Congregationalist traditions, have to balance their call to transformative ministry and supporting their families. Many are beaten down and refuse to put their families through financial ruin. I don’t blame them. My family had been fortunate not to be ruined, but it was a possibility. I think safety nets need to be in place to safeguard ministerial families from the penalties suffered when congregations aren’t faithful.
    But I will keep working towards living out the transformative and life-giving power of the gospel.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 30, 2014 at 7:45 am

      So appreciate your faithfulness and perspective Fay!

  71. Deacon Dan on March 28, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    I think you are setting up an unnecessary distinction to make your point. Jesus calls himself the good shepherd, but never the good apostle or the good spiritual entrepreneur. At the same time, what do his parables about shepherding tell us? Go after the flock who are not of this fold. Leave the 99 to get the 1. So biblically, at least, the shepherd is not a stagnant manager.

    Even in the life of Paul, is there any doubt that he was both apostle and shepherd?

    Do we have too many shepherds who don’t realize they also need to be apostles? Sure. But is the answer to encourage leaders to be apostles without also being shepherds? As Paul would say, “Hell no!”

    It’s a both/and kind of thing. Sure, some leaders are more gifted in one than another, but that doesn’t mean they should settle. Be bold; be both.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 28, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Dan…I think Paul shepherded the leaders closest to him, another characteristic of an apostolic leader. I think the shepherding gift refers to people who are more likely to want to care for ‘everyone’, which limits their span of care.

      On another note, I’m not sure Paul actually said what you suggested he said.

      • Deacon Dan on March 28, 2014 at 5:36 pm

        Thank for the reply, Carey!

        Going by your characteristics of shepherd and apostle, I have a hard time reconciling how Jesus himself would fit into this model. Really, he’s both – he cares for a small group, and he also goes boldly to preach and to harvest – but the primary image given to us is of him as shepherd.

        That’s why I squirm a little bit at what seems to me to be a very narrow definition of shepherd. Did Paul shepherd the leaders closest to him? Absolutely. But many of his letters are addressed to whole communities, and deal with specific pastoral issues – that’s why I think we have to place him in both categories.

        In the end, I guess it’s more of a minor quibble – I definitely agree we need to encourage and pray for more leaders with the gift of apostolic boldness and vision. But why not both? They’re not exclusive categories, which is the sense that I get from this post.

        As an aside, I stick by my (rough) translation of ‘me genoito’. : )

        I’m glad I came across this article; I’ll definitely be adding your site to my RSS feed!

  72. BishopAndrewGeralesGentry on March 28, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    To use the term “entrepreneur” which sounds very much like a natural source of fertilizer is a disservice to the Gospel and to Jesus himself! It is exactly why so called ” American evangelical” is another name for counterfeit Christianity. Instead of throwing out the money changers in the Temple it invites them in and helps them set up the tables! You cannot serve Riches and God as Jesus tells us. Jesus is NOT an American CEO! If you use the market place and all its terminology you become the market place and as St Paul’s warns us “the love of money is the root of all evil”!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 28, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      I think you might have missed the whole part about apostleship. And this actually has nothing to do with making money. Sorry.

      • BishopAndrewGeralesGentry on March 29, 2014 at 9:58 am

        You have missed my point that by using the language of the market place you become the market place intentionally or not. What you are suggesting about leadership is nothing more than branding and advertising not witnessing. Using your standard Jesus was most definitely not an “entrepreneur” and neither should we be. Jesus is The Shepherd we are but sheep dogs!

        • Carey Nieuwhof on March 30, 2014 at 7:49 am

          Thanks, but again, I think we can be so captive to church culture we miss the point. Apostle was a term that simply meant “sent one”. We’ve spiritualized it beyond it’s original intent.

    • M. P. , Dallas, Tx. on May 27, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      Amen. I am thinking the exact same thing, Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry. Jesus is not the CEO. He’s the Good Shepherd.

      Many churches are plucking out the shepherds and hiring “entrepreneurs” to “grow” the church in membership and “spread the gospel” but they are tossing out the babies with the bathwater, so to speak.

      I think it’s an arrogant approach and does disservice to the church, overall, to adopt this kind of millennial BS without using much WISDOM and BALANCE set by generations before. (And no, I do not mean we should be set in our ways!) .
      But these days WAY too many churches are trying to become to next big thing (Megachurches) by branding and marketing strategies much more than investing into the spiritual walk of the church. Deepening faith is something SHEPHARDS/PASTORS are wonderful at!

  73. […] yesterday, when this (admittedly very good) blog post was shared on two separate Facebook pages:  https://careynieuwhof.com/2014/03/why-we-need-more-entrepreneurial-church-leaders-not-more-shepherds/ .  I am in agreement with what Nieuwhof says about pastors being responsible for small groups of […]

  74. […] We have been talking around here about the need for entrepreneurs as a new model of leadership for the church. Carey Neiuwhof posts a blog reflecting on the nature of being an apostle – that is one who is sent – is the same as being a spiritual entrepreneur. He points out that we need people who are bold, risk takers, who are willing to experiment and are biased to take action. You can read the whole article here. […]

  75. Matt Brough on March 25, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Once again a great post Carey. Sadly, one of the things I see time and again in smaller churches is shepherd-types ignoring the critically important apostolic role. On the flip side, I know a lot of pastors who are more leadership oriented (or think they are) and feel “stuck” in a small church with people who “don’t understand.” They have no problem making bold pronouncements, they have great ideas, but no one follows because they spend very little time shepherding anyone. The apostolic leader needs to remember that they are also shepherding people, and the shepherd needs a reminder, as you have done so well in your post, that ministry always has an apostolic direction – if that makes any sense.
    Also glad to see you showing love to Karl Vaters. He has awesome stuff on his blog on a regular basis.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 28, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      Thanks Matt! I agree…ministry always has an apostolic direction.

  76. jayson on March 25, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Carey. I think you are right on with this one. I have
    witnessed another issue related to the topic you raise here. Many of the
    churches who do actually start with
    entrepreneurial pioneers seem to have a hard time keeping these leaders around.
    As they grow the necessity for structure and systems could be stifling the
    possibility of risk and experimentation and as a result they move on…

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 28, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      That’s such a great point. As organizations become more and more successful, they risk less and conserve more. So entrepreneurs leave.

  77. Chris on March 25, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Carey, I’m an Associate Pastor at a church where my Senior Pastor is everything you just described as an Apostle. He definitely is an entrepreneur. And this is why we work well together. While we both have that entrepreneurial personality, him more so than me, and both are shepherds, I more so than him, we are able to not only grow our church, but maintain its health. You’ve got to have both, in my opinion. But if you only have a shepherd leading the way, you will only have extremely healthy status quo members. You’ve got to have someone driving that is willing to take risks, be bold, and step out. However, if you ignore the health of your congregation, there won’t be anything for anyone to come to. So I think it’s a balance that you’ve got to find. Not all pastors out there are both or can be both. I’m blessed an fortunate to be in a ministry partnership with a guy that is and in a church that’s open to that.

  78. CJ Clymer on March 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Another great resource on this topic is JR Woodward’s book called “Creating a Missional Culture.” I love the way he puts the 5 ministry gifts in Ephesians. He calls the Apostles “Dream Awakeners”, Prophets “Heart Revealers”, Evangelist “Story Tellers”, Pastors “Soul Healers” and Teachers “Light Givers. He talks about how these 5 ministry gifts when used together help create culture. I know for the people in our church, repainting the gifts the way he does really helped move people toward who they are called to be. I am a Pastor of one of those small churches that 3 years ago was ready to close the doors and God is changing the culture of the church through people embracing who they are in Christ. Reading this book and reading articles like yours has brought such personal freedom, because it allows me to be me in ministry. Thanks for adding to the conversation

  79. Joe Robideaux on March 25, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Yeah, this is good. A church planters training I attended a few years back showed a spectrum where on one end was apostle and the other was pastor. The presenter said everyone has a little of each in you but defined the difference between the 2 very similarly to what you described here in the article. I found it fascinating that nearly everyone around me was really struggling with the idea of anything that would call for something to be seen as different or distinct from the traditional role of pastor. It was incredibly freeing for me personally because I had been feeling for a while that I wasn’t called to be a “maintainer” but also feeling people would judge me for saying that. I think the role of apostle is absolutely something we need to reintroduce in today’s church and be intentional about defining it and celebrating it.

  80. Daniel Decker on March 25, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Love love love this article and couldn’t agree more. God uses all types of people and “the church” needs to as well from a leadership perspective. P.S., best line of this post could possibly be this: “If the church as a whole is going to grow, this has to become an all-skate.” Lol. Well played sir.

  81. Thomas Arth on March 25, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I think all that some congregations want is a shepherd. I try to be the cheerleader and rally people to reach out, to invite. I try to be the optimist who sees the potential rather than retreats into thinking that decline is inevitable. But unfortunately I don’t see the people coming along with that vision. They’re happy to do what we’ve always done and be what we’ve always been. They’re good and faithful servants, I just think they’re satisfied with the status quo and all they want is a shepherd to tend the flock. I don’t know if I have the gift of apostleship or if I even have the energy to be more than the shepherd they want. Sometimes it makes me sad that the decline they see as inevitable will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Other times I am encouraged by the faith and love that I see in them and wonder if a shepherd is all they need and is enough for this congregation.

  82. Rev. Heather Sims on March 25, 2014 at 9:26 am

    As a United Methodist pastor of 16 years, I am proud to say that our leadership and many of our pastors are moving in this direction!! Unfortunately, what I have found personally is that I came into ministry with the gifts of apostleship but over time those have been beaten down with the expectation of the congregation to be their shepherd. In time the congregation’s expectations can be molded but if you move to a new church ever 3-4 years a pastor has difficulty 1. Making lasting change in this mindset of the members (because they go go back to old ways as soon as you are gone), and 2. Because it may only be in your last year of serving a congregation that you get to exercise those gifts, therefore they become weak. But with all that said…we MUST forge ahead bravely, or we die!! So let’s move forward as pastors, let’s move forward as lay people!!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 28, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Love your attitude and heart Heather. Such a great point about short term tenure. I fully agree.

  83. Lawrence W. Wilson on March 25, 2014 at 7:26 am

    Carey, are you familiar with “The Permanent Revolution” by Hirsch and Catchim? The authors make a similar argument to yours, but add the idea of Pauline apostleship (working on the frontier) and Petrine apostleship (solidifying the center). I agree with Karl that this isn’t a matter of apostle vs. shepherd. It’s about getting all pastors to take the role of creative leadership seriously. BTW, a (rare) critique of your thought here: I don’t agree that this idea hasn’t penetrated the church. I don’t know of a pastor who isn’t working frantically to adapt his or her leadership to the changing context.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 25, 2014 at 7:57 am

      Lawrence, thanks for this. And no, I’m not. I’ll have to look it up. And thanks for the feedback. Sadly, I do know some pastors who aren’t working even close to frantically to do anything. I’m glad you know different pastors. 🙂

  84. […]  Why We Need More Entrepreneurial Church Leaders, Not More Shepherds  […]

  85. Nic Burleson on March 24, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Carey – I follow your blog pretty regularly and want to thank you for your wisdom and insight. I think you KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK with this! Fantastic insight my brother!

  86. Karl Vaters on March 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for this post, Carey. I especially appreciate your kind words about my take on the value of small churches. I totally agree that we need more entrepreneurs and pioneers in the church. But I’d go one step further and say we don’t need fewer shepherds and more entrepreneurs. We need more entrepreneurial shepherds. Pastors of churches of all sizes should be taking more bold risks, trying more innovative experiments and pioneering new methods and ideas.

    Small churches, because of our size, have a smaller turning radius, giving us a greater capability to adapt and innovate. Unfortunately, that’s not the reputation smaller churches have. So I say “let’s get on the ball, small church pastors! Our fingers are on the entrepreneurial trigger! It’s time to foster an innovative, pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit in your church, no matter what size it is!”

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 25, 2014 at 7:56 am

      Agreed. Thank you again Karl. Appreciate the way you encourage and push all church leaders, regardless of church size. I wish more small churches would turn on a dime and become hotbeds of innovation. I really do. That’s how we started, so it’s close to my heart.

    • Lachie Walker on April 3, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      I agree with your take Karl relating to entrepreneurial
      shepherds. How can you lead people without a shepherd heart, whatever the scale or risk? I think of Jesus who is described as the Good Shepherd who definitely didn’t just maintain status quo. He rocked just about everyone’s boat who came in contact with him. And that wasn’t even about growing a church, it was a personal response to each individual.

      Maybe the entrepreneurial spirit is actually just being obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading and being about our Father’s business.

      • Carey Nieuwhof on April 4, 2014 at 9:49 am

        I think one of the confusion points might be the assumption that entrepreneurs aren’t nice people. They often are. Shepherding isn’t be kind…it’s caring for people. Entrepreneurship or apostleship is the gift of growing things. Both demand a measure of kindness and grace.

  87. Stephen Grcevich MD on March 24, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Carey, tremendous post! I’m blessed to be part of a church that views entrepreneurship as a core value and has provided extraordinary support to myself and others who felt called to pursue a vision for ministry. The organization I serve has the opportunity to interface with hundreds of churches in North America. Unfortunately, the entrepreneurial culture you describe is, in my experience, EXTREMELY RARE.

    Here’s the “elephant in the living room”…there are lots of folks serving on church staffs who feel very threatened by the active involvement of folks with this gift set. Entrepreneurs come from a culture with high performance expectations. Sadly, many of our churches don’t have the same high expectations and are steeped in a culture that tolerates mediocrity. When accomplished, highly motivated and mature Christ followers are introduced into ministry organizations and start to bear fruit, the underperformers who (tragically) are doing ministry because they lack a better way of supporting their families get exposed pretty quickly. Other staff members are often very protective of their ministry colleagues and will push back against efforts to allow church members with spiritual maturity and records of accomplishment to join in ministry. The lack of viable alternatives for earning a living for those serving ineffectively in professional ministry is a major (if not the primary reason) that mature Christians with the gift set you describe are excluded from church leadership.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 25, 2014 at 7:55 am

      Stephen, thank you. And I couldn’t agree more. That’s a whole separate blog post I think. I agree we tolerate mediocrity in the church that we wouldn’t accept anywhere else.

    • Anon on March 25, 2014 at 10:51 am

      Does anyone have an advice for a ministry-minded entrepreneur who is NOT called to be a senior pastor? I ask because several times we have been on the entrepreneur end of the situation you describe. We went to small churches, hoping to help, with the idea that even small churches deserve good pastors and good leadership. But we ran into roadblocks when the leaders above us were either: completely unmotivated, wasteful, and/or primarily concerned about job security and keeping themselves (and their family on payroll). Entrepreneurs get things done (and often expose waste in the process), try to define the mission (or get the mission defined by the one in charge), set goals and work toward those goals. That doesn’t go over well with many churches. This is a foreign concept to most churches and pastors.

      So how can we get involved in an entrepreneurial-minded ministry? Where can we find one? I’ve tried contacting one of those para-church organizations, where they help connect high capacity ministry leaders. But they only allow people to join who are already serving at a church of 3000 people.

      I really feel like there is no place for us in most churches. We are experienced, successful and driven. We have tried getting “plugged in” at a big church and waiting for an opportunity to arise, but unless someone is specifically hired to be a change agent and lead on a higher level, it always ends badly. So what next? Where can a entrepreneurial non senior pastor go to serve?

    • patrick on March 29, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      Exactly Stephen!

  88. Ron on March 24, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I’m standing in my office clapping and cheering right now, even put a fist pump in there! Every church leader needs to read this post! I have already passed it on to the staff I lead! I couldn’t agree more…we need more risk takers! The church has the greatest message in the world. We must stop playing it safe!

  89. Martin on March 24, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Thanks for this. I really don’t think you will find as much “push back” from the “Shepherds” as you might think. We all know this. The real issue, as I see it, is “Apostle” is a gift – you either have it or you don’t. I have two concerns – one is that those who don’t have it will feel as though they must “do the work of an apostle” anyway (though we can all still take more risks and be bold and experiment); and two, that the matter of discerning the gift is more than just identifying a successful entrepreneur. We really miss the boat if we miss our calling.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on March 25, 2014 at 7:54 am

      Thanks Martin!

      • Candice on February 25, 2020 at 10:01 pm

        Thank you so much for this article!!! It was absolutely by the Spirit that though posted this. Everything that the Lord had taught my husband and I over the last decade before launching us (business talk) into ministry. A new church plant with a different model. We are both entrepreneurs and have now have been called into ministry. I totally get everything you are saying. It’s interesting that you hire leaders and have pastors volunteer. Interesting! I am completing a doctorate in organizational leadership and although a doctorate is not required to pastor, I simply love leadership. This article is uncanny, even to the point that tune Lord told us last year, that 2020 I’d the year of growth. We have so many things to put into place. We are both excited and slighty terrified. LOL! 🙂

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