The world suffers from the same common malady the church suffers from.
Lack of discipleship. In the world, they call it mentoring.
Before Jesus stepped out fully in His earthly ministry, He selected twelve key individuals whom He would use in the course of spreading His message of Good News. These individuals were from various professions and vocations and of similarly varying economic strata. He took men of varied occupations and economic strata and channeled them into a single cause.
In days of old, skilled craftsmen and tradesmen took on apprentices who would learn to perform a craft. From carpenters to smiths to plumbers to masons and even to preachers, young people were taken under the wing of an experienced person to become productive, self-sufficient members of society.
Today, the mentality is “I got mine; you do the best you can.”
Even the barons of industry in America created not only jobs but also entire sub-industries that served as suppliers to them and vendors of their products.
In America in 2014, there exists the greatest gap between the wealthiest and the most impoverished members of her population.
With all the technology and information at our disposal, this should not be.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the church was not only the societal hub of most communities, but it was frequently the source of social welfare and the employment hub. The church looked after those upon whom hard times had fallen, providing food, clothing, and often shelter. Relative wealth was considered a blessing and caring for those less fortunate was a hallmark of stewardship.
Today, especially in large ministries – where people can gather in relative anonymity – someone with means, substance, and influence may share a pew with someone in dire need of help.
We need to take the stance that each one must reach one — and each one reached must teach one. We need to realize that economic success is not a “zero-sum” game; that is that one must succeed to the detriment of another.
The church needs to get out of the mindset of aggregating blessings and go back to the 1st century model of being an agent of blessing disbursal.
The church of the 18th and 19th centuries was central to the success of the industrial revolution. The church of the 21st century can be a catalyst of business transformation.
That said, we should have a convergence of both spiritual discipleship with material mentorship.
First, every person in a ministry should have discipleship responsibility. They must first be connected to a mentor but also have protégés, as well. Part of the mission of discipleship is getting to know the person you’re discipling. In order to make this successful, there will need to be some transparency regarding knowledge and ability. If a person discipling another who happens to be unemployed or underemployed, there should be models and tools in place to connect that individual to someone who can provide career or entrepreneurial guidance.
Second, the individual doing the spiritual discipling must remain connected to the person they are charged with discipling. It is important not to sacrifice spiritual growth at the expense of economic growth. It is imperative that spiritual growth is never correlated with material or economic growth, otherwise, you move into the realm of an “unbalanced gospel,” using material growth as a measuring tool of spiritual growth.
The Church should work with organizations such as the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), who can provide documentation and tools to provide tangible growth. The spiritual mentor should be aware of the relationship with the economic mentor, standing ready to use kingdom principles to circumscribe economic growth.
The Church should also work with state employment agencies to understand what kinds of employment opportunities are available. Moreover, the Church should also seek to establish relationships with venture capitalists and angel investors, positioning its entrepreneurial members businesses as ones of high integrity and exemplary service.
These are but a few suggestions on things a church or ministry can do to provide economic mentoring along with discipleship. It should serve as a springboard for more specific, step-wise solutions.
© 2014 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)