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”

Podcast – Interview with Heather & Hailey McQueen

This week we speak with a mother and daughter duo who started a Christian apparel company less than a year ago. After an inspiring women’s conference, the two decided Colossians 2:2 was the common thread of their desire to start a trendy, Christian apparel business. Everything is done in house, literally, and they’ve committed to giving 25% of everything they earn to ministry around the world. In their own words, they are “knitting God’s word back into the fabric of this broken world one stitch at a time.” Find them at their website or their page on Etsy.

 

Music: Kye Kye “Introduce Myself”

Podcast – Interview with Arturs Kulpe

We’re happy to introduce our third podcast guest who also comes from across the Atlantic Ocean. Arturs is a lumber broker in Latvia, an eastern European country. He knew from childhood that owning a business was his dream, but when he got started, it didn’t go quite as planned. With the downturn of the Latvian economy, Arturs had numerous struggles to battle, but he explains how God never left him during his weakest moments.

 

Music: Beautiful Eulogy “Hello from Portland”

Oklahoma Chiropractor Practices What He Preaches

What began as a risk, yet a calling, turned into the chiropractic practice Dr. Micah Carter now owns in Oklahoma City, Okla.

After marriage and college graduation, Carter started his professional career as a high school teacher, but his teaching stent ended after three years when he and his wife picked up everything to settle in the metropolis of Dallas. Being small town folks, the adjustment was no small feat, especially pursuing chiropractic school with no income and no promise of work for his wife.

“We totally trusted God that that’s what we were supposed to do. We had complete faith about it and were at peace about it,” Carter said.

Settling down at his cousin’s house just outside Dallas in Plano, Texas, God began unraveling his plan for Carter’s future in chiropractic care and the intricacies of how that plan would unfold.

It was a “seamless transition” as Carter described it, as his wife landed a job receiving an income near equal to what they both made teaching, they sold their house in Goodland, Kan. and they closed on a house in the Dallas metro.

The dream of becoming a chiropractor, a dream Carter avoided because he was a small town man, was coming to fruition.

“Faith is how I got here in the first place because I was a high school science teacher first,” Carter explained, as he continued to mention the situation was a “God thing” and no other explanation was needed.

While Carter knew chiropractic school was his dream and felt God’s blessing on the situation, he still found himself face-to-face with doubt. Entering any new phase of life, fear is a crippling factor, yet Carter’s cousin, a dentist, was blatantly honest about Carter’s situation—“yes, you can do this. It’s not that hard but it’s going to take time.”

Fear seemed a distant factor now as Carter flourished in his education.

While in Dallas, Carter discovered another love—his love for God and his faith, something he accepted years ago but didn’t believe was fully-mature or intrinsic in his life until he and his wife relocated to Dallas. “Our spiritual journey really took off at that point.”

Today, Carter owns Family Tree Chiropractic in Oklahoma City and has been practicing since 2002. He originally wanted the name to be “Agape Chiropractic,” but he said he couldn’t get the name to stick and some may not understand the meaning. He finally settled on “Family Tree” because he encourages care for the entire family from great grandparents down to the youngest toddlers.

Before All Else, They Gather To Pray:

Carter took time to share about his professional adventure and blessing while he missed the prayer meeting he conducts with his staff twice a day. His practice opens in the morning, breaks for lunch and then reopens in the afternoon. Before each opening of the practice he gathers the staff for prayer.

They pray for each other, for the practice and for the patients. Carter says they even pray for patients directly when they’re helping them recover from this pain and that ailment. However, Carter never forces the matter.

“I don’t push it on people because some aren’t comfortable,” Carter said. “I don’t want to be showy, but I want it to be clear whose practice it is.”

Carter has even noticed patients asking for referrals to other specialists and inquiring whether “they will pray with me before treatment or surgery.” Carter smiled as he explained the power of prayer in his practice and how it’s connected him with a strong network of specialists who uphold their faith as well.

Hiring for a Christian Practice:

Does Carter only staff his practice with Christians? Is it a Christian only zone? By no means does Carter want to exclude people from his staff or community of patients because they don’t agree with his beliefs.

Upon entering the practice it’s difficult to miss the Christian messages and themes as Christian music plays over the sound system and messages of faith fill the walls. People know the mission of the practice as Carter designed it with that intent.

When Carter hires new staff members, he’s genuinely upfront and personal about what he believes and what the practice embraces.

“We don’t search out and say you have to be Christian, I wouldn’t do that. But I tell them in the second interview, ‘look this is really God’s practice and we pray for all of our patients, we pray together everyday as a team and we take prayer requests as a team. I’m not going to require you to pray with us, but you’re more than welcome to.”

It’s an open invitation to join what Carter and his staff members advocate and believe, but it’s not pressure or exclusion from him or the others. Carter is simply honest and open to people making their own decisions.

Work Isn’t Really Work:

Carter joked as he stated that work isn’t work for him. Watching patients improve and heal is the blessing of his work. The fruits of his labor, and staff’s prayer, are evident in the people they serve, making work a worshipful experience for him, he said.

“It’s kind of hard to call it work,” he mentioned. “It’s easy to be joyful through what I do.”

Denying Business Based on Faith—Is It Unlawful?

You may or may not have heard about a Christian baker in Denver, Co. who denied business to a gay couple ordering a wedding cake. This happened in July of last year and mainstream news and social media got a hold of the situation.

The couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, took to their Facebook airways to publish a post about the baker, Jack Phillips, refusing to fill their order. The post went viral in an uproar over civil rights and discrimination.

According to the Denver Post, Mullins and Craig said the situation was awkward and painful.

“We were all very upset, but I was angry and I felt dehumanized and mortified,” Mullins said to the Associated Press.

Tremendous support flooded the couple, with strangers offering their appreciation for their love and commitment, and disdain for a business that would do such a thing.

Meet Jack Phillips—owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop for 19 years and resident of the Lakewood area just outside of Denver. He’s a professing Christian and has turned down business prior to this incident because of disagreements with homosexual relations.

The Denver Post reported Phillips saying, “when I do a cake for a first birthday party, I imagine the family gathered around taking pictures and laughing. When I do a graduation cake, I think of all the hard work it took to get them there. I feel like I’m part of the celebration, and I can’t take part in that kind of celebration (same-sex wedding).”

This brings us to today, where Phillips is facing a court decision that could determine jail time or fines for his actions.

The Blaze reported the Colorado Attorney General’s office is filing a formal complaint against Phillips and his bakery. The complaint describes a possible fine of $500 per instance if Phillips continues to refuse making wedding cakes for homosexual couples and could spend up to one year in jail for the suit. Phillips is scheduled to stand in front of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in September.

Of course, the issue at hand is discrimination.

“If gays come in and want to order birthday cakes or any cakes for any occasion, graduations, or whatever, I have no prejudice against that whatsoever,” Phillips said in an interview with CBS News. “It’s just the wedding cake, not the people, not the lifestyle.”

So, is it unlawful to deny wedding cakes to homosexual couples?

The court will probably rule that yes, indeed it is unlawful. Looking at the progression of law over time, you can see court decisions favoring less and less discrimination, no matter the concern of religious freedoms.

But, this progression affects Christians greatly. While we may deny such services, as small as making wedding cakes for homosexual couples, we will be identified as discriminatory although we have the right to exercise our faith.

I call your attention to the first portion of the first amendment of our constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

So our government, our courts, cannot stop us from exercising our right of faith. If so, how does that right get shoved aside concerning discrimination?

Is discrimination in business a more important issue than religious freedom? This is what we need to be discussing. It’s not that Phillips is discriminatory in all of his actions, just in making and selling wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

“I’m not going to change my business because of a petition,” Phillips said to the Denver Post. “I’m just going to do the best I can do to honor Jesus Christ.”

The question for Christians shouldn’t be “why aren’t you more understanding and accepting of people?” The question should be “why aren’t you holding fast to what you believe?”

If we progress with culture, we become hypocrites concerning the approval of homosexual relations. Are we going to be hypocrites of what we believe and let certain God-opposing, sinful actions slip through the cracks, or are we going to be different than mainstream culture and stick with our value of one man and one woman?

The decision is yours. If we don’t talk about it, then we may find ourselves on a slippery slope. So, let’s talk. And let our talk be wholesome and constructive.