How to Crowd-source Your Future.
I need your help. No, not your money. Just a little time and brainpower.
I’m twenty years old,
and in about a year, I’ll graduate from Lipscomb University in Nashville (for everyone who’s asking, yes, I will be 21 when I graduate. Yes, I am practically a baby). I have no idea what I’m going to end up doing with my life after that point. I’ve thought of everything from a year long missions trip to grad school to getting a job at a church right away.
However, whatever I end up doing in a year is informed by what I want to end up doing in twenty-five. Last summer, I had no idea where my career was going, so I spent the summer praying God would show me His direction. By the end of the summer, He placed the call on my life to give Him a church.
When you do a jigsaw puzzle, you usually try and finish the outside first. Those pieces all have a straight outside edge, so they’re easy to recognize, and it gives you a frame from which to start on the other pieces. Ministry is the outside of the puzzle that is my future. The million things that could fill in the middle are my problem.
I came back to school stoked on the vision of ministry, but randomly ended up taking a business class. The class showed me meaningful crossover between my calling and entrepreneurship. Our final project in the class was pitching a “missional business,” and I came up with Talents Coffeeshop/Church. It was theologically based in the parable of the Talents as well as Jesus’ commands about “the least of these”.
It had three main components;
- A strong business venture. Namely, a coffeeshop/bar/music venue all in one. Talents would attempt to do it all at the highest possible level.
- A church to reach those who’ve never been to church. It would meet in (and share a name with) the space provided by the business. Additionally, all of it’s employees would be legitimately employed by the business in some capacity. That eliminates most of the two biggest costs churches face — facilities and personnel.
- An intense focus on service. The coffeeshop would feature avenues for customers to participate in tangible service in return for a discount on their coffee. The church would support service projects without putting its name on them, while using the coffeeshop as a jumping off place for those projects.
I’ve realized since coming up with Talents that I’m passionate about three things;
seeing people know God, seeing them live well, and seeing them give back out of what they’ve been given. Those passions directly fuel what Talents is about.
Talents would be a place to create community in a largely disconnected world. Additionally, it would strive to give people a sense of purpose as they are encouraged to use their own talents well. Finally, it would cultivate a culture of radical inclusion. Everyone would be welcome and invited there.
Frankly, I would love to see this vision come to reality.
Like I said, I’m a year away from graduating college, and my plans right after only make sense in light of this vision. I’ll need both business acumen as well as a solid theological understanding, and maybe a little public works experience too. All that would combine in the crazy endeavor that is Talents.
This Is My Insane Plan:
Step 0: Apply for an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) program during senior year of college. Hopefully get accepted, and then immediately postpone/defer enrollment.
Step 1: Get a full time, entry level job right out of college. Ideally at either a church as an associate/executive minister, a non-profit focused on domestic community development, or a consulting firm.
Step 2: After getting said job, enroll in Masters of Divinity night/weekend classes at a nearby seminary.
Step 3: After two years at job while take M.Div classes, quit job. Enroll full time in MBA program from Step 0. On the side, continue taking night and weekend M.Div classes.
Step 4: After two more years, finish MBA, and then tally up M.Div classes. In theory, it’ll add up to a full degree.
Result: Two Masters degrees and two years of work experience (plus internships) in the course of four years.
As far as where I would do this, I have three options in mind. The first would be to stay in Nashville (where I live now). There’s plenty of non-profit organizations and churches, and Vanderbilt has a great M.Div and MBA program.
I could also go back to sunny southern California. My pastors there (@KirkWinslow and @RobClark) have been indoctrinating me in the Fuller Seminary way of life since I was like twelve, so I would make them happy as can be if I started taking classes there. Additionally, USC is close by, and has a great business school.
Finally (and this is easily the craziest option), I could apply to Harvard Business School. It’s #1 in the nation, and the M.Div program at Harvard is also incredible. Additionally, Boston is a huge center of business and commerce, and it would give me innumerable options for jobs.
No matter where I go,
my plan would make for a difficult four years. The more I think about it, the more I think both of these dreams may be impossible, but I would rather try and fail then give up now just because it looks hard on paper. To quote an executive I talked to today, “If you can make it work, I absolutely love your vision.” With this plan, that’s a hella big “If”.
As much as this is my working plan, I write with the understanding that my plans are at best rough sketches of my future. I’ve got a bunch of puzzle pieces that fit with one another, but I don’t know if they fit the grand puzzle of God’s plan for my life.
This is where I hope for your help.
First and foremost; pray for me. I’ve committed this summer to a time of discernment about my life. Whether I hear a voice from heaven with step-by-step instructions or not, I hope to gain at least a little more clarity.
Secondly, let me know what your thoughts about all this are. If you think my vision is totally of the devil, tell me. If you’ve tried to do any of the things I’m considering and loved them, let me know. If you hated your MBA experience, I’d love to hear that too.
Finally, if you’ve had an idea that seems crazy or impossible, I want to hear about it. Whether you brought it to reality or you kind of shoved it to the back of your mind, let me know. If you’ve had an idea that sounds remarkably similar to what I’m talking about here, let me know that too. I love standing with people who are willing to dream as big as I am.