Friday, October 29, 2010

Seeking Glory: A Biblical View of Ambition

As a child, I remember spending many a late afternoon playing by myself on my family’s basketball hoop. The clock was always ticking down the last seconds of the championship game with my team behind by one point. The ball was in my hand and I had the opportunity to take the last shot. This scene repeated itself whether I was dreaming about baseball, tennis, or being the President of the United States. There is something in all boys, or at least in me, that craves situations where one has the chance to make a difference. At a base level, we are all glory seekers.

Later, when I grew in my Christian faith, I developed an uneasy relationship with ambition. Jesus’ teachings often seem to go against our tendency to be ambitious. Yet, our glory seeking desires many times are the fuel for accomplishing kingdom-minded activities. It’s easy to see that most leaders of the evangelical world have ambitious personalities.

If you’re like me and have wrestled with the fine line between humble service and glory seeking, Dave Harvey has written Rescuing Ambition, an excellent book that I highly recommend. In it, he makes the argument that ambition is something hard-wired into humanity by God. We do God a disservice when we let the guise of humility hijack God-given dreams and desires. But we need to be wary of the human tendency to curve ambition in on the self instead of towards God and others.

Harvey has written a one-of-a-kind book that creatively explores a topic that has been sorely unexamined by evangelical thinkers. It’s my hope that this book will lay the foundation for a rich understanding of ambition which will benefit the next generation of evangelical leaders.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Electronic Recyclers International Benefits People, Profits and the Planet

Electronic Recyclers International, Inc. is an innovative triple bottom line faith venture enterprise that actively seeks to employ ex-offenders and former gang members while benefiting the environment:

John Shegerian, CEO of Electronics Recyclers International, was one of the co-founders of faith venture Homeboy Industries back in 1993. In a recent BNET post, Why I Hire Former Convicts and Gang Members, he details how that experience was a foundational moment in his life and impacts his current venture. He is now a vocal advocate for hiring ex-offenders:

I think our hiring practices make our company stronger because they show that our management is sensitive to the human condition. We’re all one accident or one tragedy away from being in a tight spot. Business can be a battle, but when a company shows its DNA this way, it makes for a very tight-knit group and helps us work together.

There’s not a community in America that isn’t suffering from drug, gang, and recidivism problems. People coming out of those situations without structure are going to go back to what they know, whether that’s a gang or dealing marijuana or smoking crack. If every business owner hired just one person from the margins, it could make a world of difference within the community. Helping people get that second chance is our great opportunity and our great challenge.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bud's Warehouse Partnership with Providence Network Highlighted in "Road to Providence" Video

Individuals rebuilding lives need both supportive living environments and redemptive employment. If either is missing, the challenges of life can quickly become overwhelming and the bad choices of old get repeated with the resulting consequences.

At Belay Enterprises and Bud’s Warehouse, we are in the third month of an exciting relationship with local transitional housing provider Providence Network. As part of an innovative grant funded by Mile High United Way, individuals get a supportive transitional home program as well as employment and job training through a comprehensive partnership.

This innovative partnership is highlighted in a recent video produced by Providence Network for presentation at their annual luncheon.  It's a great video but be sure to have your tissues at hand.

Road to Providence from Andy Magel on Vimeo.

If you work with either a transitional housing or job training organizations, I encourage you to partner in the interest of better serving disadvantaged populations.

And if you are a Christ-following entrepreneur, you can use your business skills to create supportive faith venture businesses to employ individuals often left behind in our society.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Call for Faithventures

Do you know a faithventure that should be profiled on this web site?

We are looking for Christ-centered businesses or social enterprises specifically created to employ individuals or communities rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness, or prison.

For the last two years, the Faithventure Forum has profiled innovative redemptive employment organizations from around the country. And we welcome your help. If you know of a deserving program, let us know by commenting below or by sending us message. You can also contact us via Twitter at @jamesreiner.

We will also be glad to publish guest posts from others highlighting worthy business as missions with specific redemptive employment goals.

So in advance, thanks for your help. And stay tuned as we continue to explore organizations from around the world doing important but often unheralded work on behalf of individuals left behind by society. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Faith Venture North: Masterworks of Minneapolis

Innovative faith venture Masterworks of Minneapolis operates three redemptive employment businesses for individuals with significant barriers to employment: an assembly, manufacturing and packaging business, an auto maintenance enterprise, and a construction company.

Masterworks also provides an intriguing and unique organization history as a non-profit that has over time transitioned into both a for-profit and non-profit entity as detailed on their web site:

Masterworks was founded in 1991 with a vision to hire those who for varied reasons have significant barriers to employment. These barriers include homelessness, felony records, addictions and chronic unemployment, often in combination. Our founder, Tim Glader, is a businessman and entrepreneur whose commitment to Jesus Christ brought about this compassionate and strategic venture. Through the years, God has brought hundreds of inner-city residents through our doors.

For its first 15 years, Masterworks was primarily a self-sustaining ministry, deriving 95% of its operating funds from business profits. In January 2006, Masterworks divided its ministries into two entities. One branch became a for-profit venture with locations in Little Canada, Minnesota, and Vermillion, South Dakota. All profits from this branch are donated to our on-going non-profit entity.

The non-profit branch, Masterworks of Minneapolis, continues to build on its history of offering full-time employment to program participants, deriving a significant portion of our operating income by doing real work in the marketplace.

Masterworks of Minnesota is located in the Elliot Park neighborhood at 1121 Seventh Street South. For more information, visit their web site or call 612-338-3468.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Faith Venture Wisdom from Brother Lawrence

I am a plotter and a planner. I love to develop organize the future here in the present. I find that many entrepreneurs share this same skill set. A natural affinity towards strategy helps to overcome the uncertainty and risk natural to starting something new. But in the world of faith ventures, businesses started to create opportunity for individuals and communities rebuilding lives, strategy must be balanced by faith.

Today, that reminder came in the words of a 17th Century monk, Brother Lawrence:

“Because of this same trust in God’s care, when Brother Lawrence had some outside business to attend to, he never worried about it beforehand. Rather, he found God would give him a picture as clear as a mirror image of exactly what to do at precisely the right moment. He had acted in this way for quite some time, without being concerned about something ahead of time. Before he had experienced God’s swift help in his affairs, he had attempted to plan every detail, doing the job in his own strength. Now, though, acting with childlike simplicity in God’s sight, he did everything for the love of God, thanking him for his guidance. Everything he did passed calmly, in a way that held him close to the loving presence of God.” (The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence, p. 20)

It’s a fine line between responsible strategizing and unnecessary worry. And if you are following God’s call to start a faith venture business to create opportunity for disadvantaged individuals or communities, you will run into circumstances where you need to rely solely on faith. Brother Lawrence is right to remind us that God will show the way at just the right moment.

I promise you that over time in a faith venture, you will experience “God’s swift help.” That will give you confidence to trust God’s strength and to do everything for His love.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Detroit Area Peaches and Greens Offers Fresh Produce to Disadvantaged Neighborhood

Urban neighborhoods in major U.S. cities are often difficult places to find fresh vegetables and fruit. Central Detroit CDC provides an innovative answer to this problem with its Peaches and Greens faithventure business as mission. As detailed on their web site:

If you live in Detroit, you know that we are some of the most under-served produce consumers in the nation. Large chain grocers do not have store locations within the city boundaries, which is tragic for a city with a population of over 830,000 residents. Because of the intentional or unintentional food desert, Detroiters have to travel outside the city to get fresh produce and meats. The low-income central Detroit residents the produce market will serve have limited resources to travel to the surrounding suburban areas to shop. As a result, their options are limited to shopping at neighborhood markets that sell outdated foods and very limited fresh fruits and vegetables. 

The produce market, Peaches and Greens, which opened in the fall of 2008, provides community residents the opportunity to have a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance.
 Peaches and Greens is located at 8838 Third Avenue (at Hazelwood) in Detroit. They are open 10am to 6pm Tuesday through Friday and 10am to 5pm on Saturday. Call 313-870-9210 for more information. 

Belay Venture Partners Program Selects First Founder

I’m excited to announce that Belay Enterprises has chosen Brittany Marlett as our first participant in the Venture Partners Program. B...