Current Needs + Who You Are + Missio Dei = New Startup Venture

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Overlooked in so much of the conversation surrounding church planting as well as startups is this simple admonition and encouragement: be yourself! I know, shocking. At Intrepid I like to ask the following questions:

  • What if church planting was actually simple and freeing?

  • What if you could actually bring your passions and skills into ministry?

  • What would it look like to plant churches here like we do over there?

  • What if church planting and launching startups meant simply being you?

Same goals and aspirations whether it is tied to church planting, launching a startup, or community economic development. But the clincher is you can actually be yourself. No cookie cutter approach. No listening to all of your assessment results which try to pigeon-hole you into a certain expression of church or even startup. The truth is we’re like snowflakes ... we’re all unique. There is no one like us. Even those most like us are really nothing like us.

I was reminded of this during a luncheon a couple days ago for faculty who teach in the Masters of Global Development and Justice program at Multnomah University. Sitting around a table at the Portland Mercado as we feasted on foods from Venezuela and Mexico the conversation turned towards Enneagram and personality types. Even when it came to the Myers-Briggs personality test it wasn’t surprising that most of us had nearly identical results. My hunch is academia draws certain kinds of people towards itself. But the truth is we couldn’t be more wonderfully different from one another.

We all grew up in different parts of the country and world, had disparate experiences growing up and in adulthood, we have different interests, hobbies, and so much more. Even though we’re all connected around the topic of justice and international development we each tackle this conversation so differently. We each address these topics from our unique perspectives based upon our experiences, interests, and personalities.

Are we to think we all should plant churches and launch startups the same way? And yet so much of our training, assessment metrics, and funnels seem more about cranking out uniform widgets than working with individuals to hone what they should start.

Seemingly every church planter I come across is planting the same way as the next planter. All of their social media looks the same. What they take photos of, presets and filters used, logos, wording, and so on ... same. It’s like the current Third Wave coffee scene. It doesn’t matter what city I’m in they all look the same. Same decor ... color palette, succulent plants, wood highlights, claims, and more. Where has creativity and innovation gone?

I’m not saying this is wrong or bad or anything like that. However, launching coffee shops seem to be on a similar trajectory as church planting. Uniformity. The good news is all don’t fit this cookie cutter approach.

What if church planters and entrepreneurs felt the freedom to be themselves? Start according to their timelines. Look how they want to. Engage in the process that resonates with their personality, gifting, perspective, experiences, and context. Fit into and resonate with their context.

This is why I love this simple equation: current needs + who you are + missio Dei = new startup venture. That’s simple math. I like simple math.

What does your community need? Not every community needs a new hip Third Wave coffee shop. It could be a welding company, auto body shop, barber shop, daycare, or a tech company that helps farmers utilize drones with an app from their phones. The possibilities are endless. Needs in your community are all before you. But then we need to match this with who you are.

Even in the list above I’m not sure I’m even qualified to do any of those. Do you really want me to cut your hair? (I have a weed whacker I can use.) As a result I wouldn’t pursue those. I’d keep digging to uncover something that resonates with who I am, my background, experiences, passions, interests, and leanings. It’s as simple as that. Besides, why would I want to start something that doesn’t light my own fire? It’s already challenging enough to bring something to life from scratch. That fire keeps us going when we’re in the midst of the monotony and grind.

Next we look at the narrative throughout Scripture of God’s redemptive plan. Throughout history we’re caught up in the timeline of what God is doing in the world. Shalom was lost in the garden. We’re to be about bringing and extending this shalom wherever we go and in whatever we do. This is where we extend both God’s saving and common grace to our communities. Embodying and sharing the gospel. How is your startup and church bringing about healing, restoration, and health to our communities?

All of these questions and thought processes can lead us towards starting something that truly resonates with who we are as well as meeting a need or filling a niche in our community. There is great freedom here. Maybe too much where it causes us fear, apprehension, and even paralysis. But as I’ve said before, we all have interests and leanings. We probably even have a few ideas that keep bubbling up to the surface.

It’s time to run up our sails and catch the wind. The biggest step is the first step. Step onto the boat. Hoist your sails. Head of out the safe harbor.

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Written by Sean Benesh

Director of Intrepid