Book Review: “Entrepreneurial Faith”

The third book I read over the summer was Entrepreneurial Faith by Kirbyjon Caldwell and Walt Kallestad. This is a book that is up my alley. It’s a book that touches on the core of who I am – a book that speaks to my being. It’s about seeing faith through the eyes of innovation. Our churches are often stagnant, content with the status quo. There are some of us who wither and die in that environment – I am one of those people.

The authors had me in the very first paragraph of the book when they wrote, “We have learned that maintaining the status quo serves neither God nor the people that he loves.” (pg. 1). Indeed, that is true. Shift down two paragraphs and the two authors follow up with the following statement: ” We have been pastors for a combined sixty years, and we know from hard experience that ‘church as usual’ is guaranteed to fail.” (Pg. 1). I’ve been a pastor for just over five years, but been walking on this planet for over 46 and I can confirm that this is true of more than just church. Anything as usual is guaranteed to fail because nothing stays the same – nothing. Yet why is this such a difficult lesson for people to learn and grasp? Why are we so attached to the way it was when the way it was is no longer?

This is a book that gives the reader permission to dream and dream big. The church needs to dream. It needs to dream big. This shouldn’t be difficult. Scripture is full of dreamers. It’s full of people who dreamt big. It’s full of people who told big stories. It’s full of stories of a big God who has done big things. It’s full of stories of a big God who has promised to do big things. Yet, we hog tie that God far too often in our churches so that we can have things our way – small and contained and predictable. Aren’t we tired of predictable faith? Predictable God who doesn’t make any impact on anyone? I am. What’s the point of such a God? We’re wasting out time with that God. Or as the authors say – “We must take the gospel out of the church and to the people.” (pg. 5).

“God is working in the world, and He invites us to join him. But he doesn’t limit Himself to tried-and-true methods, and He never shies away from disruptive innovation. In fact, if you study Jesus’ method of ministry, you could easily argue that God prefers bold, people-focused initiatives that fly in the face of convention.” (Pg. 6). Now you’re talking my language! The church is supposed to be a place where we take a risk because we have God at our back. Have we forgotten this? For too long the church has become scared to do anything. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the excuse of “but the insurance!!!” for why a church couldn’t do something. That’s why the insurance is there. Go do it. Or close up shop and stop wasting people’s time.

This is not a book about just dreaming. It’s a book about acting on those dreams too. Because we ‘re following a savior who didn’t just talk about a dream, but acted on it. Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God and then acted on it. The authors describe Jesus as the “Ultimate Entrepreneur.” “An entrepreneur, in the best sense of the word, is one who is not satisfied with the way things are and who refuses to stand on the sidelines doing nothing about it. A true entrepreneur is not primarily about making money, but about using his or her skill and experience and knowledge and passion to make life better for others. An entrepreneur is one who finds a niche, seizes the opportunity, and adds value to the community.” (pg. 29). I think that’s a pretty good description of Jesus.

The authors then go on to describe five distinct ways in which he created “the original blueprint for entrepreneurial faith.” (Pg. 33-36)

  1. He challenged existing mindsets
  2. He introduced Kingdom initiatives
  3. He upended the status quo
  4. He increased his followers’ capacity
  5. He added value

The authors then go on to talk about the profile of an entrepreneur in a faith capacity – talking about transformation, community, risk, execution, failure, and more. They offer stories and examples from their own lives of how this has worked and not worked so well.

In the last section, the authors talk about vision – it’s the why of entrepreneurial faith. “Dreams lead to new ways to give help to the poor and hurting people around you. Dreams fulfilled will leave you feeling great inside, even though you have expended much time and energy to bring the vision to reality.” (Pg. 93). This is really what it’s all about. It’s the motivation for why we do what we do. There are people hurting and so we have to act. And the status quo isn’t working, so we have to act in new ways. And here’s what I also know: “You are going to face opposition. And it will come in ways you never expected.” (Pg. 94). Yes, indeed it will. And sometimes it will be painful.

Which leads to an entire two chapters on ways to overcome opponents and getting out of your own way. The book moves towards more practical matters and offers insights into plans. This is helpful for those unfamiliar with these things.

Overall, this book is a great inspiration for entrepreneurial faith folks. It’s a book to read and then get up and get moving. Because that’s the point. Get up and get moving. You aren’t alone. Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. Get moving. Regardless of the odds. Get moving.

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