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Showing posts from November, 2008

Cherry Hills Community Church Business as Ministry Meeting

Last week, I was invited to attend the monthly business as ministry meeting at Cherry Hills Community Church by Harold Britton, the Rocky Mountain Church Connections Director for WorldVenture. This meeting of business people is held at Cherry Hills every third Wednesday of the month. Thomas Beck and Bruce Swanson of WorldVenture spoke on their organization’s new Transformational Ventures project. Swanson directs the project while Thomas Beck lends his business expertise as a Synergos/Vantage Alliance consultant and as a past founding partner in Blockbuster, Boston Chicken and Einstein Brothers Bagels.

Over the years, WorldVenture has been a traditional mission sending organization. Recently, they have been introducing a business as ministry initiative by employing the organization’s unique strengths in the area of connecting business people in the United States with business as ministry entrepreneurs overseas. The project identifies overseas business as ministry opportunities and then…

If This Master's Degree Had Existed 10 Years Ago...

I've had several friends complete the Global City Doctor of Ministry program at Bakke Graduate University over the last few years. It's a fascinating doctoral program that I've been interested in myself but it's the old conundrum of balancing work, family and life. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned that BGU is now offering an MBA program. I went to the web site and discovered my dream master's degree: they have developed a Master of Arts in Social and Civic Entreprenuership. This program provides a balanced curriculum of business training, social entrepreneurship and theology. It's the perfect degree for someone wanting to build an academic background in the area of faith ventures and business as ministry. Unfortunately, like most master's degrees, it comes with a fairly steep price tag so you really need to analyze the cost benefit of pursuing this particular academic degree. And one must also remember the value of on-the-job experience. But if t…

Viva Las Vegas?

Today, I came upon a fascinating post in Andy Crouch’s Culture Making Blog. Throughout my writings, I hope it comes through how much I value the healing nature of redemptive social networks. On the flip side, negative social networks can be corrosive as this study shows that the more time spent away from Las Vegas reduces one’s risk for suicide.

Interviewing Grace

In most job interviews, an employer looks for the most qualified person for the job. At Bud’s Warehouse, we put a different twist on the idea of “most qualified.” As a faith venture that provides employment and job training for individuals rebuilding lives, our interviews are less about finding the most qualified and more about finding someone who can’t find a job elsewhere because of a felony conviction or a past addiction. If someone appears able to find a job somewhere else, we are less likely to hire them and quick to refer such a person to a job placement organization like Denver Works.

One of my favorite stories is about how far we are willing to take this idea. Last year, an owner of a neighboring business discovered someone stealing copper from our yard at 3am in the morning. He called the police with a license plate number and they arrested the individual. The next day, the police called us to see if we wanted to press charges. The policeman, who was familiar with our projec…

Building the Foundation for Felony Employment Success

Steve Pankoski of Stryan Steel Systems attended our last Faith Venture Focus Event and shared valuable insight about employing felony offenders. In his opinion, the key to success in working with past offenders is realizing that your business is God’s business. With that in mind, a Christ-centered owner, who has a God-directed commitment to hiring past offenders, is free to trust them like any other employee and serve them with the same attitude as Christ. This provides the foundation that allows felony offenders to overcome past bad decisions and reach their God-given potential.

Pankoski started Stryan Steel Systems in 1995 after 16 years as a Denver area custom homebuilder. The company manufacturers and installs an innovative structural floor system that overcomes the swelling soil issues of the Denver Metro area. His labor-intensive company requires employees that are adept in the construction and installation of these systems. As a result, there are many ideal employment opportun…

Lost Boy Faith Ventures

I define a faith venture as a Christ-centered business that employs individuals or communities rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness, prison, or poverty. Many of my posts to this blog discuss faith venture with an eye on serving individuals rebuilding lives from prison and a felony conviction. But faith ventures aren't limited to just felons. They can be international faith-based microenterprise funds that serve whole communities rebuilding from poverty. Or they can be domestic firms seeking to meet the needs of other disadvantaged communities.

At our last Faith Venture Focus Forum, I was introduced to Billy Williams of Urban Mattress. Billy is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience from several different business startups. His latest venture sells mattresses and sleep systems in Boulder, Colorado. The faith part of his faith venture comes in his commitment to hire recent immigrants from the Lost Boys of Sudan to staff various roles in his business. They have had t…

Food Drive Leading Indicators

Economists have a selection of economic statistics that they examine to predict the future direction of the economy. Sometimes I wish the nonprofit sector had its own leading indicators to help nonprofit managers make future decisions. We are often stuck trying to predict the future by relying on second-hand information from the for-profit sector or on just gut feelings.

This past weekend, I had first-hand experience with a non-profit leading indicator while helping out on my sons’ Cub Scout food drive. It’s pretty apparent that the economy is starting to impact charitable giving. Every November, our Cub Scout pack canvasses the same neighborhood for canned food donations. This year, food donations were significantly down from the prior year. What is interesting is that this decline is in a community that has been minimally impacted by job losses or income declines. For most of our neighbors, their only experience with the recession has been with the decline in the value of their retir…

Forum Thanks

We just completed another exciting faith venture focus group yesterday. I received the following email the other day from Tom Siegle who attended the first focus event:




Jim - I got a lot personally from the Forum, in particular found it
uplifting to be among a group of businessmen focused on furthering God's
Kingdom, with a vision of business as so more than a means to an end.
It also clarified for me very clear and distinct objectives for
supporting and enabling Godly business people in their ventures:
1. To provide a platform in the business world for Christians to impact
people in a positive way for the Kingdom; and
2. To provide positive work opportunities around Godly people, who are
strong role models, for those that are marginally employable or
unemployable.
Thanks for the invitation.
THS

November 6, 2008 Faith Venture Focus Event Sold Out

I am excited to announce that our second Faith Venture Focus Event scheduled for November 6th, 2008 is completely sold out! Our first event on October 16th, 2008, generated a lot of enthusiasm which has resulted in 13 christian entrepreneurs signing up for tomorrow's event. We had hoped to limit the event to 10 individuals but decided to expand the number since this is the last event for 2008. We will announce future Faith Venture Focus Events for January of 2009 soon. If you are interested, let us know.

Accidental Entrepreneurs

At our first Faith Venture Focus Event on October 16, 2008, we asked an enthusiastic group of 9 entrepreneurs what ignited their desire to start a new business venture. We were looking for insight that could be applied to other faith venture start-ups that seek to provide opportunity for disadvantaged communities through business. Several of them shared how they were entrepreneurs by accident. They found themselves in a situation where they had to start their own business because of life circumstances.

Hal Goble, the founder of Water Technology Group, shared that early in his career as an engineer, he went to work for a company that ended up going out of business. He then found a job in another company and the same thing happened again. After having two companies close on him, he decided to never put himself in that same predicament and he opened his own company.

Bruce VerSteeg of Omni Building Corporation found himself in a similar situation only it was one where he was having a hard t…

Hope International

I had an exciting meeting yesterday with Chris Horst of the microfinance organization Hope International based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Chris recently moved into the Denver area to establish a western presence for this expanding ministry. He stopped by Bud’s Warehouse for a tour and to learn more about our organization. Hope International is exploring starting a domestic business as ministry initiative sometime in the next few years.

Jeff Rutt, the owner of Keystone Custom Homes in Lancaster County, started the faith venture Hope International in 1997. At the time, his church had been involved in providing short-term assistance to a church in the Ukraine. After being challenged by a pastor to find long-term solutions to poverty, Rutt was led to the growing sector of microfinance loans as a creative solution to breaking the cycle of poverty. Hope provides small loans to individuals in poor communities who are unable to obtain loans from bank sources. Over the years, Hope has grown to…

The Dangers of Entrepreneurial Micromanagement

In today’s Wall Street Journal, there is an article on how the control habits of micromanagers actually hurt the companies that they lead:

Two years ago, Greg Cushard was leading eight or nine meetings a week at
Rubicon Oil Co., the truck-refueling company he founded and runs. He would
interrupt conversations among subordinates, identify mistakes and make even
mundane decisions, he says.

"I acted like a quarterback ... more than a coach," Mr. Cushard says. He had little time to think about the business. Employees "stopped making suggestions because they were afraid they'd get shot down."

Prompted by advice from his top lieutenants and executive coach, Mr. Cushard resolved to stop micromanaging. Leadership experts say micromanagers --
from small-business owners to managers in large organizations -- share an
unwillingness to trust subordinates; still, many can be successful, to a
point.


The great danger of micromanagement is that it saps the initiative of the micromanaged.…