The Blue Sweater…and Entrepreneurship

by vernsanders on April 20, 2010

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, and, at least for me, it has advantages and disadvantages, some of which I outlined in  The Blue Sweater…and Leadership. There is one other thing, though:

I get to see interesting things (right now I am sitting in a hotel room in suburban Indianapolis, and out my window is a winery!…I walked over there yesterday and they wanted me to pay to taste…come on…), and meet interesting people (sat next to a FedEx pilot on the flight between PHX and IND yesterday…he lives in Tucson, but was going to IND in order to fly to Paris, where he’ll pick up a load of French wine (@$2/bottle) in order to take it to China (where it will sell for $10/bottle), but, being from the west coast, my time clock gets fouled up.

But back to the thread…

For the last couple of weeks I have been captivated by The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz. She’s a Stanford MBA who left an international banking career to work, primarily in the microfinance arena, with the poorest of the poor, primarily in Africa. She was in Rwanda before the genocide, and has returned many times since, and just that part of the book is worth reading.

Eventually, though, she came to believe that the solution to poverty included a form of philanthropic investing called “patient capital.” I think that “patient capital” is a great model for the church, in that the return on investment in worship, program, and outreach, can take years to pay off. In these days of the need for “instant success” that can be difficult for a company, a ministry, or a church, but it is the “old fashioned” way…and the way to true growth/change.

In the course of reading the book, I was struck by a number of quotes, today’s set of which revolve around the topic of entrepreneurship:

“Recently, a 71-year-old entrepreneur defined his breed as ‘the most stubborn and persistent people in the world. Entrepreneurs see possibility, an idea, and won’t stop, regardless of the obstacles, until they make it happen. They aren’t necessarily the smartest people in the world, but they are the ones who have the guts and the heart to do whatever it take to make dreams come real. [snip] They aren’t always the easiest people to work with, either.’”

“Just start. Don’t wait for [the perfect time or opportunity]. Just start and let the work teach you. No one expects you to get it right in the very beginning, and you’ll learn more from your mistakes than you will from your early successes anyway. So stop worrying so much and just look at your best bests and go…Find the best entrepreneur you know and start from there.”

I think that church musicians often fall into the entrepreneur category when it comes to ministry, and that can cause problems in a bureaucratic institution that the church often falls into being. My encouragement to musicians is to be more entrepreneurial, yet my counsel is to listen more. That combination can provide the framework for finding just where your dreams intersect with the church’s needs.

At the same time, my counsel to pastors and other leaders is that even though church musicians can be hard to work with, they are uniquely gifted to bring creativity to an institution that can get stale and uncaring. Let them let their work teach them (and you…and the church) what is possible.

What do you think? Can a church musician be an entrepreneur? Please leave a comment.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret Marcuson April 20, 2010 at 10:15 am

Vern, great post here, and the one on leadership, too. I think the church desperately needs entrepreneurial energy — but the phrase “patient capital” is essential. We need creative thinkers (both pastors, musicians and other leaders) who are grown up enough to recognize change takes time, usually a lot of it.

vernsanders April 21, 2010 at 11:25 am

couldn’t agree more, Margaret…do you plan to incorporate this into your financial teaching for churches?



Margaret Marcuson April 27, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I do, and thanks for drawing this to my attention!

vernsanders April 27, 2010 at 7:58 pm

no problem…glad to help…

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