Saturday, September 10, 2011

Daniel Tharp: Corporate Christendom [Guest Post]

Daniel Tharp is a friend from the mma community, his knowledge of history, and his willingness to be skeptical about the present makes him a trusted voice in my life, though he hits hard with words and fists :)

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It’s no coincidence that with the Rage of the small business owner we have the Rage of the church planter. A young man just out of Bible College ( or an MBA in the secular world ) has been equipped for ministry. He has spent his parent’s money or taken out loans to learn the trade and earn a living. He has honed his homiletics and his selling skills, often referred to as outreach. He has learned organizational skills and probably interned at a church. Um…Discipled, I mean. Savvy in all of the latest marketing technology, communications and proper dressing for success, he is ready to start his own business.

As college has become available to virtually everyone, from online classes to for profit universities, people expect a payoff from their education. Why else would you put yourself through and pay money? The American Church has moved away from the missionary sentiment and narrowed their worldview to missions in their hometown. I have to say, there are people who should plant churches that have a niche working with the outliers. Those that don’t fit the mold. However, it seems that every strip mall church I went to had the same formula. Different faces, the same seeker friendly formula. I was shocked to find a pastor friend of mine that had his year’s sermons in a cardboard box. He had bought the series for a year in church from – an entrepreneur. God in a box. Bought and paid for.

From Bible Colleges to the famed tough guy with the spikey hair and affliction T-shirts, Mark aka Angry Tough Dude, Driscoll, there are church planter training courses that you audition for. He says explicity in a youtube video that you either have the look and feel or you don’t. Those that don’t, get sent packing, looking for another line of work.

So like a good business man, you have invested time and money into yourself for education, clothing, merchandising, technology, Sermons in a box. You have cultivated the lingo of the profession and networked like crazy. You’ve thought long and hard about branding yourself in a certain way to reach your target audience.

Like any new business in town, you begin to advertise. Seed money is taken to print up the most eye catching flyer you can come up with. It puts Obama’s campaign tactics to shame. No, wait, you paid someone to do that. A business that serves churches. The church planting package. You skipped the free stuff and bought the Full Service Package.

The School District made you a good deal on renting out the gymnasium. It’s a little rough right now but the market is good for property buyers and in this area of town, people have money. After surveying the town, you knew God wanted you here. The other side of town would scare people off. We are family based.

The music has to be right. You are a promoter and businessman. Your education has taught you how to capture the consumer and make him want your product. Your tech guy is a good man. In fact, all of your employees are perfect. After the interviews, you didn’t know who to go with. After a good long prayer retreat, God has spoken. God bless volunteers. There is a benefit to getting in early with a compa…church. Likely to move up faster.

You are ready to go. You hustle up leads. The best customer is the one who is dissatisfied with the service they received at their current retailer. But you know how to meet that need and your product is superior to your competitor by a long shot. You got the newest most innovative marketing and service in town.

The doors are open for business. You are the right man for the job. Thank God you have Dad’s head of hair. Grandpa on mom’s side went bald at 25. Word spreads and the coffers…I mean chairs are filling up. This new groundbreaking sermon has really hit home with these people.

Your wife is such a blessing. Her beauty is more than skin deep. Meeting at Bible College, you both knew the Lord would bless you in ministry. It’s all coming together. She represents the church so well that sometimes you don’t know who the owner of the business is. Her mothering skills are really attractive to other moms. Perfect time for a women’s group.

Your clientele are really amped each Sunday. You’ve found two point men to start cell groups with. They already have job experience at that other church. But this is where God wants them.

After a year in business, you have established a base budget. This is a good time to expand and get a more permanent home. You have to weigh the pro’s and con’s of this. Right now, you are making enough to start setting aside money for those student loans and a bigger house. The kids are growing and you need more room. It’s obvious that God’s Blessing this ministry. More people, more money to do his work.

It’s time to go legit with this business. You need a board of directors to manage your money. You can’t be bothered with paying yourself and taxes. You have an accountant at church. Thank God for volunteers. He plays the guitar so well and expressed his feeling that God is leading him to minister in music. There is Rod, who owns a construction company. He has discussed possibly teaching on Wednesday nights. He has felt the call since a child but now he has an avenue to use his gifts. All of the jobs were filled at his last church.

After a church retreat you are going to announce that God wants them all to have a spiritual home. Rod tearfully says that he is willing to donate land he owns and give it up to God instead of make a profit from it and he can contract the building. Wow, God had laid it on his heart to do all these things.

You and your wife are so thankful for all that you have built. God was in control. Only he could have brought all of this together. You can focus solely on your passion. Reaching out to your community and continuing to grow ………..You are making money and in control of your Destiny.

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Dan Tharp

With a degree in ancient history, I have pursued my two lifelong interests through reading and
writing. Early Christianity and Military History. The last 5 years have challenged me to explore
Good, Evil and War. I have a modern Military Adventure Novel coming out this Fall. ‘The Gold of Katanga’ and early next year I will release ‘The Crimson Cross’, a full length novel set in World War Two. Meticulously researched and written for Sinners and Saints alike, it spares nothing on war and faith. If you are looking for a Janette Oake novel, this is not for you.

Facebook me, if you blog, lets exchange blogs and if you write, lets share !

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