Sacramental Entrepreneurship or Franchise Corruption?

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The first Lutherans didn’t use the term “Lutheran” to describe themselves. They identified themselves by the much more apt term “evangelical.” After all, the Lutheran church is founded on the pure proclamation of the Gospel and not the man Luther. So how did we end up with the name “Lutheran”? It was first given to us by our theological opponents, and it ended up sticking.

The first time I heard the term “sacramental entrepreneur” in reference to the FiveTwo movement, I thought it, like the term “Lutheran”, was a pejorative— a critical commentary on FiveTwo theology from opponents of the movement. As it turns out, this term comes from founding leader and president Bill Woolsey, and Sacramental Entrepreneurship is at the core of what they’re all about. According to their website (http://www.fivetwo.com/sacramental-entrepreneurship/), Sacramental Entrepreneurs are:

  • Men and women who have a deep love for the mysterious work of Jesus in the sacraments AND realize that because He’s really present in them, they are the presence of Jesus — His sacraments — in their communities.
  • Therefore they want to start new to reach new.
  • The “new” is a variety of spiritual communities (church plants, business as mission, community development endeavors, house churches, study groups, etc.), all designed to connect Jesus’ lost people into the baptized body of believers.

FiveTwo puts an unmistakable emphasis on the novel. “Start new to reach new.” Entrepreneurs are interested in starting new things. They develop business models and are responsible for their own success or failure. The problem is that the Church is not a business, it is not new, it is not ours to do with as we please, and we are not responsible for the Church’s success or failure.

The FiveTwo movement, however, is entrepreneurial at heart. They are pioneering a brand new way of doing church and theology. They teach new doctrine:

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In keeping with their claim to “be the gospel”—a blasphemous claim if there ever was one—Woolsey speaks of the “sacramental identity” of Christians, whose purpose it is to “release the Sacramental Jesus in others,” (http://billwoolsey.org/five-keys-releasing-sacramental-jesus-others/). It almost sounds as if they’ve already begun coming up with new sacraments to match their new gospel.

FiveTwo is concerned less with fidelity, and more with novelty and numbers. Their vision? “For 10,000 Sacramental Entrepreneurs to start 1,000,000 Sacramental Communities by 2044,” (http://www.fivetwo.com/about/2044-vision/). How can we set numerical goals for the church when it is God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6)? Did the Holy Spirit give them this “vision”? Can “Sacramental Entrepreneurs” manipulate the Holy Spirit? Or do they not know that the Holy Spirit works faith when and where He wills (Augsburg Confession, V.2)?

The one thing that seems to be holding the FiveTwo crowd back from realizing their full potential is their continued association with Lutheranism. It would be more in keeping with their entrepreneurial spirit for them to disassociate themselves and recognize that they have started something new. Otherwise, Lutheranism will continue to stifle their creativity, and their creativity will continue to corrupt the franchise.

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