Dream Big Things from God, and then Accomplish Big Things for God
“Now glory be to God, by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Ephesians 3:20 (LB)
What are you dreaming about these days? Does it seem like an impossible task? Is it a big dream that you could give your life to? Then maybe that dream is from God! Two years ago, Navigator Ralph Gatti began to dream about having a L´Abri type of center in Central Europe that could be a think-tank for the Global Enterprise Network (GEN), the Navigators expression of business as mission, where interested entrepreneurs from around the world could come and dream about how to carry out the great commission in the marketplace where they live. It seemed an impossible dream. It would require all the Navigators in a city coming together to support such a center, hosting visitors from around the world. It would mean putting together a robust curriculum of the current thought in the business as mission movement while still holding true to the Navigators vision, mission and core. And of course, it would take financial support to get the center up and running. Could such a dream become a reality?
Thankfully, God is into the impossible. The Agathe Center for Entrepreneurship, just an idea in the hearts of our Navigator family in Central and Eastern Europe over the last eighteen months, is now “open for business” in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Agathe Center is a ministry of the Navigators dedicated to serving committed laborers from around the world who want to advance the kingdom of God through missional enterprise. The founders of the Agathe Center believe that businesses should not only make a profit, but also change society for good. That is why it is called the Agathe Center for Entrepreneurship - in Greek, "Agathe" means "Good". The mission is to provide holistic support to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs as they know Christ and make Him known.
Bratislava, Slovakia was chosen as it has been a focal point for missional enterprise over the past twenty-five years. There are experienced practitioners to draw upon, as well as good business examples in the city to study in order to understand what a missional enterprise should look like. God, in His goodness, has also brought together a great international team and provided a space well-equipped to meet the needs of the center. Those who serve at the Agathe Center are convinced that an enterprise should hold in creative tension the priorities of a triple bottom line: financial sustainability, social impact, and spiritual transformation. The center services include mentoring and coaching, trainings and seminars, as well as intensive immersion experiences that involve spending extended time with the Agathe team. You can read more about each of these services at the Agathe Center website. The goal is to make personalized, individualized training and consulting available at no charge to entrepreneurs intent on advancing the Kingdom of God through business and social enterprise platforms.
If you or someone you know would like to know more about utilizing the Agathe Center’s services, you can engage with Agathe through the website to start the process. The Agathe Center is now ready to receive “clients” and begin the in-depth work of helping young and aspiring missional entrepreneurs build businesses that advance the Kingdom. Whether the enterprise has already been launched, or is still just a dream, the Agathe Center can help move it forward to the next level. “Come and See” what God has done and how He will use the Agathe Center to advance His Kingdom around the world. God has accomplished what Ralph dared to ask or even dream of, and He has done the work infinitely far beyond Ralph´s highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes.
My husband Bryan is a risk-taker. It's something he is well-known for, from his love of climbing mountains to his willingness to try any new food set before him. Raw horse, anyone? Squid still squirming? You name it, he's ready to try... He even held a job after college repelling from the roofs of tall buildings to wash windows. Risk – something necessary to business, particularly new startups – is second nature for him.
It is well known that I married my opposite. I love safety. I love things being nailed down and decided. I don't have a risky bone in my body and usually only attempt new things after much research. Needless to say, the new interesting food items on the menu when we moved to Japan weren't calling my name. Our move to Japan itself was a huge leap of faith for me. Though I was completely convinced it was God's desire, my natural inclinations and instincts fought me the whole way, even for years after our move.
And then God led us to start a business.
Though we find ourselves on different ends of the personality spectrum, Bryan and I experienced similar feelings and thought processes about opening up shop in Japan. The question of WHAT we would do was always answered for us: we both had storied histories with coffee culture and had dreamed about how our loves of coffee and people might intersect. Bryan had made easy friends and connections in the coffee industry of our city and greater Japan, so God was already opening doors. But a business? In Japan, of all places? The paperwork, all in a second language – an arduous language. The stress stories from other entrepreneurs, with the added stress of a different culture. We can't own property, get a loan, or sign up for a credit card here – how would we pay for it? And if we are somehow able to begin, how could the two of us possibly sustain it? What if the business fails? What if we can't find other workers and collapse under the pressure? What if it turns out that we are horrible at business?
Without answers to these questions, Bryan and I began taking turns playing the roles of doubter and encourager for one another. We both knew the truth that God never promises success, but always promises His presence. We also knew that obedience is the safest place to be, even if it looks risky or downright crazy from the world's perspective. And God had affirmed us time and again, through the mystery of His peace, through the encouraging word of a colleague, and through the excitement of our Japanese friends and neighbors. Some of those friends breathed sighs of relief, saying, "So you're really going to stay, then?" We were ready to give it a go; in fact, a fire had been lit and we NEEDED to do it, even if it would be crash-and-burn. We trusted that God would lead us, and He would either open doors to success in this venture, or He would close them and teach us in the process.
So far, like so many stories of those following Jesus, it has been one risky leap of faith after another.
The Navigator’s calling is simple yet very profound,
To advance the Gospel of Jesus and his Kingdom into the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost.
The last part has an interesting word: “living”. To some this would mean “where you live”, yet I believe it has bigger implications. I believe this word means “your entire life” or “as you live”. If this is the case then we are to be making disciples where we live, where we play, and even where we work. Every part of life.
I began my journey of discovering God in the workplace as I was graduating college. Perfect timing. The commands were quite clear in the Bible: to work heartily as unto the Lord and to do everything for the glory of God (Ephesians 6:5-8 and Colossians 3:22-24). The lost were all around me, so I had no problem believing Jesus when he said the harvest was plentiful. The longer I work (which I’ll admit has not been very long) the more God teaches me about following him in every aspect of my life, even work.
When I went to the Entrepreneurial Readiness Workshop (ERW) I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t have a business idea ready or even have one brewing. Not a feasible one, anyway. Yet I know now that God used that workshop to teach me more about himself. And I don’t have to start a Missional Enterprise to put what I learned into practice!
The triple bottom line is foundational to running a successful Missional Enterprise. Yet this same triple bottom line has the ability to inform everyone’s work from a corporate job to an entrepreneurship.
As an employee your company wants you to make them money. And you should work to contribute to the financial sustainability of the company.
As I mentioned earlier, the marketplace is filled with people who don’t know Jesus. Even if you work in a setting with only believers, spiritual transformation through the Gospel of Jesus is for everyone, saved or not.
While some jobs may have a social impact more directly than others, all businesses impact society in some way. As an employee, you can work to ensure that the impact of your company is positive for the community and society as a whole.
While I don’t know where God is leading me in regards to starting a Missional Enterprise or joining an existing one yet, I am already able to apply lessons from the ERW to my current workplace. How will you bring glory to God in every aspect of your life?
GEN Desk Contributing Author and Nav 20s City Leader
Generations of Business Men and Women, Living and Discipling among the Lost
Back in the 1980´s, the Navigators in Africa began making small loans to help African disciples launch businesses that would provide much needed income for their families. Today, there are hundreds of enterprises across the African continent run by business men and women who have been trained by the Navigators in evangelism and discipleship. With more and more “missional enterprises” springing up, Navigator representative Wanjau Nduba (who resources this network), saw an urgent need to have many more trained mentors and coaches who could help these business practitioners stay focused on a triple bottom line of financial sustainability, spiritual transformation, and social impact. This need led to the birth of an initiative called “Venture Villages”.
After 16 months of development, the first Venture Village was launched in Nairobi, Kenya in November of 2016 as a joint initiative with Naventure (the Navigator African business network led by Wanjau), Agora Enterprises (a US based ministry that promotes international entrepreneurial accelerators), and the Global Enterprise Network (the resource team that serves Navigator missional enterprises around the world). The goal is to launch dozens of successful startup missional entrepreneurs around Africa in the next few years.
One essential ingredient in this Venture Village process is to recruit and train successful Christ-centered entrepreneurs as business coaches and mentors who can walk alongside new and existing Navigator business practitioners. These mentors and coaches will empower Navigator entrepreneurs to stay focused on pursuing the triple bottom line that is being used in the Global Enterprise Network (GEN).
In this first Venture Village nine mentors, who were trained in the techniques of Lean Startup and coaching skills, met bi-weekly with nine aspiring entrepreneurs. Prize money was awarded at the end of the three-month course to the three entrepreneurs with the best business ideas. Investors will be reviewing all nine business plans for potential capital investments. The next Venture Village, which will begin at the end of September 2017, will train a new cohort of mentors to work with more new entrepreneurs so over time there will be a growing number of mentors/coaches to serve the ever-increasing number of missional entrepreneurs in Africa.
The operative principle behind training new business mentors/coaches is Ecclesiastes 4:9 - “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” By having trained business mentors/coaches working with new Christ-centered entrepreneurs to pursue a triple bottom line, God will ensure there will be a good return for their labor. This will enable the gospel to flow out of these businesses into communities around the world as business men and women live out their faith daily in the marketplace.
Says Matt, who trained the coaches, “Our passion is developing missional entrepreneurs to become lifetime laborers who can be fruitful in the marketplace where they will spend most their time.” Feel free to contact us if you would like to learn more about how to become an entrepreneurial mentor/coach.