Serious money bets on church startups...

GigaOM reports from SXSW 2013:

"...if you want to snare some money from at least one venture capitalist you might want to keep human vices — like lust, gluttony and greed — in mind.

"At a SXSW Interactive panel Friday ...Mayfield Fund managing director Tim Chang said:

The way I evaluate a lot of companies now is I look at the design framework. I look at the design framework of the seven deadly sins. If an app or service does not tap into one or more of the seven deadly sins, either directly or indirectly, it will not be addicting…I always look along those dimensions.. and see what do those trigger."

Maybe he's on to something? The PCA's RUF has gotten some big capitalist to venture a bunch of his millions for one church startup in each of the Big Ten Conference cities. The startup capital is around $750K per church and these startups market themselves to students and academics. I think Tim Chang would approve; in the Big Ten, you don't need to settle for only one or two of the seven deadlies... They're all concentrated in university communities, plus focussing on the Big Ten gets you in the game up north which is a good strategy for busting the PCA out of its southern ghetto.

Interesting how church planting looks if you think of it as venture capital strategy. One pastor in the deep south explained to me that he was working with some denominational church planters and they told him one of their tools for deciding what neighborhoods to plant in is to drive around and count roof pitches and angles and square feet. The basic principle, they said, is the more complicated and larger the roofs, the better the neighborhood.

When my friend recounted this, I questioned him carefully and he said it was the denomination's church-planting agency's men who told him this and they were completely serious.

What I can't figure out is how you can preach repentance if these are the kinds of places you want to plant churches? I mean the seven deadlies are there—no question about that—but what are you going to do? Call academics to repent of their pride? Seriously? Like the Apostle Paul in Athens?

There's no money in that.

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent... (Acts 17:30)

______________________

(By the way, I removed the name of the denomination and its church planting agency because I know I'd be inundated with men associated with the denomination or its agency denouncing me for recording this conversation. They'd claim they know the agency's men personally and no one in the agency would ever think, let alone say or do such a thing...blah blah blah. So no names used.)

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Also, what comes across is almost social snobbery: plant a church in a decently well-off area so you attract at least half-"nice" people.

The local expression of this was one Christian I know here asking why so many American church planters are attracted here (Edinburgh, Scotland; a wealthy university city), when they could go and plant in a smallish town in Scotland which is bereft of any good Gospel witness.

Do none of the Big Ten towns have PCA churches already? 

Maybe not. It was only around 2000 that Washington DC had a PCA church. 

Most churches are started as entrepreneurial ventures, with someone coming in with a product that he thinks is better than the last guy's product. Thus you get two very similar churches on the same block, or worse, one church renting space from another.  I have a hard time with a denomination starting a church because the next best church differs on a tiny doctrine.  And from the standpoint of the new church in town, I wonder if it is common for the Hawaiian shirt and shorts pastor to be looking in the rearview mirror for someone to come along and outdo him.

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