Richard Sumner – Giving Financially & His New Idea

 

We bring back our first guest, Richard Sumner, to talk about financial giving and how we think about giving to the church, charities and the world. Richard also provides a teaser of a project he’s working on to organize his giving that might just become public.

Find Richard Sumner online at spreadsheetsolutions.pw.

Also, you can find our Christian Companies podcast on iTunes by clicking here and subscribing. We produce podcasts weekly, so keep up with us as often as you can.

 

Music: Humble Home “Welcome Home”

Interest: Ugandan Man Uses a Bike to Save Lives

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Many people in remote areas around the globe die because they can’t reach a medical clinic or hospital in time. Travel to and from remote villages is either impossible or too treacherous at times. However, a young man is changing the way sick people are transported to hospitals in Uganda.

Chris Ategeka was only 9 when his younger brother died as Chris was helping to carry him to the nearest hospital, which was 10 miles away from their village in Uganda. Later, Chris would become an orphan along with his five siblings after their parents died of AIDS.

Chris was then sponsored by a California family for his education and impressed the family so much that they invited him to come to California to live with them in 2006. Since his arrival, he has earned engineering degrees at the University of California, Berkeley. He will also start his doctorate in mechanical engineering this fall.

While his educational career is impressive, that’s not the most impressive thing he has done. Chris is the founder of CA Bikes, a nonprofit that teaches villagers how to build bikes used as ambulances and wheelchairs from scrap metal.

“I teach you how to make it, and I teach you how to fix it,” Chris says. “If it breaks, you know what to do, and if you want to build something you think outside the box and you do it.”

Chris estimates that the nonprofit has distributed more than 1,000 bikes and bike ambulances throughout Uganda. It’s also estimated that only 100 bike ambulances can transport 10,000 people a month, with the average cost per bike at $600.

The nonprofit also supplies bikes for children to go to school, leading to an attendance and performance increase of 90 percent after children received bikes, according to the nonprofit.

Chris’s goal for CA Bikes is to create jobs in Uganda and to be a self-sustaining organization.

(story source: NPR)

 

 

Podcast – Interview with Paul Clifford

Paul Clifford is a tech genius helping churches and ministries use technology to further Christian ministry. He loves everything tech and teaching people how to use it properly. He discusses the three books he’s written—Podcasting Church, Tweeting Church, and Serving Church—and his passion for making much of the church through technological means. You can find Paul on Google Plus here.

Find our podcasts on iTunes here. Subscribe. Download. Spread the Gospel through Business.

 

Music: Hillsong United “Relentless”

Interest: One Man and His 3D Printer

Credit: Ivan Sentch

Credit: Ivan Sentch

If you haven’t heard much about 3D printing, then you might want to run a quick Google search. Soon, I believe, 3D printing will completely revolutionize the manufacturing and production world, which will change business entirely.

In some regards, 3D printing scares me and it excites me. I’ll explain those later in this article, but for now, I want to tell you about a recent project one man is working on with his 3D printer, probably one of the greatest projects yet with the printer.

Ivan Sentch, a New Zealander, is using a 3D printer to make his wildest dreams come true. That dream is to create his own Astin Martin DB4 vehicle. With the average price of the vehicle fluctuating between $330,000 and $1.7 million on the market, Sentch decided he wasn’t ready or prepared to throw that kind of cash to the wind for a vehicle of his dreams.

So what do you do when you want something but you don’t have the money? Well, now you just print it.

Now, according to Gizmag and Solidoodle (3D printer company), Sentch is not a 3D printing genius. He’s just a highly motivated man.

With his Solidoodle printer, he has manufactured most of the vehicle with only 28% of the body remaining, plus the dash. Since his $500 printer is no mega-machine, he has to print most of the vehicle in 4 x 4 inch sections and then mold them into place. It doesn’t sound easy, and it isn’t, but it’s better than paying serious cash for the vehicle.

You might say this is the ultimate DIY project and this is only the beginning for the 3D printing world.

My Excitement with 3D Printing:

As I mentioned early, 3D printing will eventually change consumerism and manufacturing – I believe it. As printer prices continue to drop and become more available, more people will have them in their homes and begin to manufacture simple household goods rather than going to the store.

It will be as simple as downloading a plan from the Internet, using some modeling software to tweak or adjust the plan and then printing and assembling the product. It sounds awesome and sounds cheap. I personally enjoy DIY projects, as long as they are fairly simple to figure out.

This would streamline DIY projects and people could start printing all of their household goods, from tables to chairs to beds and so on. We could do more for less and customize everything for our needs.

Sounds great.

My Fear of 3D Printing:

Once 3D printing is more available for the average consumer, you can throw copyright and trademark out the window. It will be much more difficult for a business to create a product and sell it without the fear of piracy. Eventually, databases will exist with plans for nearly any product on the market and for free, just like music and movies right now. This is what I believe at least.

Since the Internet is uncontrollable in many regards, there is no way a business can control who can create and build their trademarked product. Someone can simply take a product, develop a plan and either offer it for free or sell it to others, benefiting from another’s creation.

This could send business into chaos in some senses.

Also, don’t even get me started on what people may be able to do with the printer as far as creating weapons. We know someone has already created the first gun with a printer. We don’t know how well it works and I wouldn’t use one for sure, but that’s not going to stop people from creating more guns, and worse, missiles and “weapons of mass destruction.

3D printing is exciting, but I’m also fearful of its result. I just don’t trust folks out there with that type of power.

What do you think?

Small Town Freelance Writer and Web Designer

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Nestled in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and five children, Debra Torres makes much of her ability to write and be a present mother for her children. She’s a freelance web writer and designer in an area where the market isn’t large, but little competition exists.

Childhood gave way to her enjoyment of reading and desire to write, as she told how her grandmother would hand her a book during family visits and she would escape to her father’s old room to journey through the pages.

An undergraduate degree in communications led to a master’s degree in journalism. Debra spent a brief period interning at a newspaper, but starting a family soon followed, putting her writing career on hold.

Five years ago, Debra received a nudge. “I just really think it was God saying ‘you need to start (writing) again.’”

A quick Google search for “freelance writing” soon launched Debra into her writing career, with an unlikely mentor. The first website she clicked on led to the first person she asked for guidance, a woman who was a leader in the freelance community. She  became a close mentor for Debra, teaching her the ropes of today’s writing trends.

“She explained to me that in writing, right now, the money is in SEO, which I didn’t know what SEO was,” Debra said.

Small Town with Big Opportunity:

Debra laughed as she mentioned her first writing job—a $10 a month column for a local newspaper, which she continues to write today. However, that small job led to another writing job, this time writing the copy for a local beef farmer’s website.

“What I learned as a copywriter was that all of these people needed a web designer as well,” Debra mentioned. With an open door and an opportunity to fill a void for the business community, she hopped on Publisher to construct her first website, a process she said wasn’t at all easy.

“Being in a small town, the word gets out that you do web writing and design,” Debra explained, which was true because the ball was rolling and picking up speed. Once the word got out, Debra had more locals calling for her skills. They didn’t know what SEO meant, much less copywriting, but they knew they needed it for marketing purposes and Debra was the local expert.

Debra works with a small market as one of the few writing and design professionals, but that doesn’t mean business is always booming. She’s made cold calls and pursued business when it’s been less substantial, which is the life of a freelancer.

However, she didn’t hesitate to mention her trust in God to provide for the needs of her family during the slow spells of work.

When To Say Yes and When To Say No:

Debra doesn’t brand herself as a Christian, yet she includes a link to her ‘Who Is God’ blog on her freelance website. Although a non-Christian friend advised against including the blog on her site, Debra insisted the blog be highlighted.

“I am quick to mention that I am a Christian to people and I’m quick to turn down jobs that I don’t think align with my Christian faith,” Debra said.

On several occasions Debra has rejected writing requests. For one job, she cordially denied service to an Indian man who wanted flyers produced for a religious holiday that doesn’t align with the Christian faith. Close mentors to Debra said that even writing the copy for those flyers would promote a message other than Christ, so Debra had to say “no.” file000909879658 (1)

It’s not that Debra is elevating herself above others, instead, Debra chooses to remain honest about her standards and has determined to align her work with that of Christ. She won’t back down on what she believes, even if it costs her a few extra bucks.

Debra is eager to accept projects for ministries and non-profits, but if she volunteers, she makes sure clients understand the priority of her time. She wants to help churches and non-profits improve through presentation and articulation, but saying yes to every project, especially those without pay, leads to a lack of necessary income. Providing for her family is a priority, thus paying clients receive priority of her time.

It goes with the saying, “a worker is worth their wages.”

Work-From-Home Mother:

Working from home allows Debra to be available for her five children, which she says is a blessing and a challenge. Making sure the kids get to and from school, chores are accomplished and homework is done, along with writing content for clients is no small feat.

Luckily, her husband is a college professor, which allows him to be at home during the summer months, giving Debra a break from managing the kids during the day on her own.

While home life mixed with work may not be ideal at every moment, Debra mentioned that which is most important for the family—“I can still be that mom who is present.”

Podcast – Christian Branding; with Jason Wiser

Jason Wiser, our guest of the last segment, joins us for another great podcast discussing branding a business—whether some Christian business owners should brand as a Christian business or not. This is a vital step in the business process, and one we as Christians should not overlook. Not all are called to be branded as Christians, yet some are. Hear what we have to say and let us know what you think in the comments below.

For more information about Jason, you can find him on Google+ at webinationstation.com/Gplus or at his Webination Station website: webinationstation.com

 

Music: The City Harmonic “Wake Me Up”

Podcast – Interview with Jason Wiser

 

This week we introduce you to Jason Wiser, an entrepreneur, missionary and leader of a large Google+ Christian business community. He started a business, Webination Station, which is “helping Christians get online effectively.” His focus is bolstering online presence for churches, Christian businesses and non-profits through his skills with social media, SEO and website construction and design. He knows his stuff and will be joining us on next week’s podcast regarding “Branding” and hopefully more segments to come.

You can find Jason on Google+ at webinationstation.com/Gplus

 

Music: Josh Garrels “Zion & Babylon”

Do You Advertise as a Christian Business?

This is a serious question for many business owners. Should you advertise your business as Christian and risk backlash from non-Christian customers, or accept it fully and be completely honest with your market?

As Christians and business professionals, we ponder the pros and cons of how Christian businesses are accepted. While being honest about Christian principles and values for a business may prove risky in some markets, I believe it’s what we’re called to do.

Now, when I say we’re called to be honest about our business, I don’t mean you have to print Bible verses on every product you sell or line your storefront or office with Christian messages. At some point, Christian bombardment is costly for any business, so by no means am I proposing to do so.

However, it seems as if the only choice when declaring to be a Christian business is to bombard people. This is false. Being a Christian business owner, entrepreneur or freelancer can take the very image of someone who holds to Christian principles and standards.

Let’s be honest, the image of Christians has been blurred in the last decade, but people still appreciate honesty, excellence, commitment, diligence and kindness in the workplace. You don’t have to advertise these attributes as your “Christianity.” Instead, bring things attributes of your business to life by living them.

A study conducted in 2011 offers some tremendous insight as to how people perceive Christian businesses. The Barna Group, a market research organization, conducted a survey asking two simple questions: if you were going to buy a product or service in the coming year, would you be more likely or less likely to buy a particular brand if you knew it was from…

  1. A company that manages its business according to Christian principles?
  2. A company that embraces and promotes Christian faith?

 

Here are the results of the poll of 1,022 adults from across the U.S. ages 18 and older.

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Click to enlarge

What do these results tell us?

For managing according to Christian principles, about 2 out of 5 adult consumers (43%) said they would prefer the Christian business (with 27% of adults strongly agreeing). Most reported indifferent (51%) and only 3% reported opposition. That means a business operated by Christian principles generated a positive-to-negative ratio of 14 to 1.

For a Christian business that embraces the faith and promotes it, about one-third of adults (37%) said they would prefer this type of business (with 22% of adults strongly agreeing). Again, most were indifferent (58%) and only 3% reported opposition. That means a business that embraces the Christian faith and promotes it generated a positive-to-negative ratio of 12 to 1.

One stat deserving of our attention is the youngest generation of adults polled, called the Mosaics, who reported the least likely to care whether the business displayed Christian faith or principles. As these adults grow older, a shift could occur as to the favorability of Christian businesses.

However, for now, the stats show a favorable response toward Christian businesses, and if anything, people who are indifferent.

Again, I issue a statement of caution. Both these researchers and others admit that overtly Christian businesses are not favorable in the marketplace. People do not want Christianity shoved into their face, nor should they. Consider doing business with someone of another faith and how you would feel if they shoved Islam, Hinduism or Judaism in your face.

To conclude, I leave you with an all-encompassing passage:

“A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

The Coffee Shop Church

As one church neared death, another church began. Josh Grimes became the pastor of the small church on the brink of closing. He introduced an idea that 14 of the members weren’t fond of—that idea was to start a coffee shop where the church would meet.

“Everyone in that church left and got mad except for one person,” Josh explained.

With only one member remaining, Josh proposed his “church in a coffee shop” model to a dozen others who soon backed him and began meeting in a restaurant to discuss the future of a new business and new church.

“We closed the old church,” Josh said. “We put the property on the market and used the equity on the property to start the coffee shop.”

Avenue_209

A year of meetings brought the genesis of Avenue 209 Coffee House in Lock Haven, Penn. The church (The Common Place) wouldn’t meet for three months until the coffee shop was up and running, and had developed a substantial presence in the community.

In the meantime, Josh attended a coffee school operated by another church, and it was amidst his schooling that he learned “what is good for business is good for ministry and what is good for ministry is good for business.”

To explain the business and ministry concept, Josh gave a few laughs as he said, “If you treat people nicely, like Jesus would want you to, then they’re going to want to come back and buy more coffee. That wasn’t too much of a stretch for us.”

It’s not about exploiting Jesus’ teaching for profits, rather Josh learned how conducting a Christian business makes people feel welcome and accepted. He reiterated that what is practiced in church should also be practiced in business. The Christian business plan only makes sense.

Why Church in a Coffee Shop Works:

“We were pretty intentional from the beginning that we didn’t want to be known as the ‘Christian’ coffee house because we figured that would only attract the Christians, then we would go out of business,” Josh said.

The idea wasn’t for another Christian business hub where only Christians would gather, but rather a place where Christians and non-Christians would enjoy a cup of joe, casual conversation and community. Through being in the shop and around the staff, people would learn the meaning of the shop, but it wasn’t forced upon them.

They were intentional about being honest when customers asked who owned the coffee shop and what took place within the walls of the shop. Josh used customer interaction as an avenue to invite people to their church.

“We have a lot of un-churched people, in the sense that they don’t historically have a Christian background or they walked away from church for a long time,” Josh explained.

With a mixture of these people entering the coffee shop everyday, it only made sense to have church where the people were. “The traditional model was a big enough hurdle in their lives that they would not go to church even though they were very spiritual or spiritually curious.”

Whether it’s the traditional setting of churches, hurt from past church experiences or misunderstanding of Christ, Josh and his church set out to offer a setting where people could casually walk in and out and learn the truth of church, and ultimately, the trust of Christ.

Today: 

The coffee shop church continues to expand and bustle with people. One service led to two and now they must expand their space within the building to house more. Remodeling projects are ongoing to streamline the ministry capacity of the church and develop more functional space for the community.

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Intent is to stay in the coffee shop since it defines a place of gathering for so many and is strategic in its location and ministry.

“If we go to another location, we lose that entry point and it’s huge,” Josh said. “We have a lot of people that come because they were first customers and then became involved in the church community. It’s been pretty substantial.”

After four and a half years of existence, the coffee shop employs five people and talk of coffee roasting in-house is the latest buzz. The old rundown building is now a vibrant coffee shop, a place the whole Lock Haven community embraces as life giving in more than one sense.

Whether the northeast is a difficult location to operate a Christian business, Josh didn’t express any concern. He did have a simple message to say:

“I have found that liberal people and conservative people are all hungry for Jesus.”

 

 

Podcast – Starting A Business

Part of what we want to do here is educate people on how businesses start, how to get started if you’re an entrepreneur and seeking the Lord’s favor in our work. This discussion covers the preliminary aspects of getting started, such as knowing your skills, weighing risks, time and effort, and connecting with God. We want to encourage the growth and development of great ideas and facilitate a way to remain accountable to our purpose as Christians.

A couple of resources we mention in the podcast that we wanted to add here. One was Chris Guillebeau’s website. The other is the Chazown assessment.

As always, we have fun with our discussions and keep them casual. Sorry for the long intro, as Trent enjoys music too much and adding it to our broadcast. We would love for you wonderful listeners to provide feedback and ask any questions you have. If you do, we will start highlighting feedback and questions on our next episodes. So take to the comment section below and offer your thoughts!

 

Music: Kalai “Noon Day”