A few weeks ago, we featured the first part of an interview with John Kirby, who leads efforts to open staffing offices among immigrant communities throughout the country. This week, we pick up where we left off in our conversation, as John shares his advice for those just starting the journey of building a missional enterprise. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
M3 Weekly: What would you want people to be aware of if they are just beginning the missional enterprise journey?
John Kirby: I think the very first thing is that you need to find some way to have customers. If you don’t have customers, you have nothing. So, spend some time figuring out how you can have something that people are willing to pay for. You can have all the dreams in the world that you want, but they’re just illusions if you don’t find a way to translate that into people paying you to do something.
The second thing I would point to is the importance of a team. Team. Team. Team.
Too many of the projects in business-as-mission have been lone entrepreneurs. In Isaiah 61:4, the word “they” is repeated three times. They, they, they. Don’t do it on your own. We serve the triune God. We are created in His image, for community. Do not do it on your own.
M3W: It’s been said that the only thing that is harder than building a team is not having one.
JK: Yes. It is just so much harder to be on your own. I have reached the point where I would tell anybody not even to start down that path unless you’ve got a team. It doesn’t even have to be a team in the sense that they are in the same business as you, but they need to be in life with you. Not everyone we have here in our business ecosystem is in the same business, but within the community, there is an interconnectedness that amplifies the power of everyone else.
You’ve got to have what I call SRT. Spiritual Relational Trust. First, if you’re not on the same page spiritually with the key people then you’re in a position where you’re unequally yoked.
Then, the second thing is that you have a relationship with the people that you’re rolling with. Do you have the ability to spend time together? Do you find spending time with these people bringing benefit to you and do you find that they find benefit from spending time with you? There can be people that you could be spiritually very well aligned with but you might not be able to have that kind of relational connection with.
The last thing is trust. Do we feel that we can trust each other? If we fail, do we go and get it cleared up quickly?
M3W: What other advice do you have for people who are just beginning the journey of missional enterprise?
JK: I’d say, take advantage of the things that the Navigators and other organizations have developed to help people. Get connected. Get into a cohort. Participate in training opportunities. Expose your people.
Be like the verse in Proverbs, which says, “Go get wisdom.” (Proverbs 4:5-9) Spend what it costs to get it. If it costs you money, spend it. If it costs you time, put in the time. If it means going to a conference, go to it. Go get wisdom!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
Let’s meditate on this familiar passage this week, and apply it to our lives, ministry, and work for God’s Kingdom.