Wiki14 5/2 Cribbing From Social Entrepreneurs

FiveTwoTwoKaty, TX–Bill Woolsey’s Five Two explains Sacramental Entrepreneurship in an article titled 7 Marks That Say You’re A Sacramental Entrepreneur. The title is reminiscent of Martin Luther’s Seven Marks of the Church–which Luther drew from clear Scripture. One would expect that if being a Sacramental Entrepreneur is something that God desires it should be found in God’s Word.

But the sources for this idea come from a different arena. In the article Woolsey states:

You have to get out and do some new.
Biblically speaking, the Church needs to regain its apostolic focus.
So we’re looking for the apostolic folk who want to start sacramental communities of all sizes and shapes, generations and geographies.
We call that guy a sacramental entrepreneur.

Woolsey’s 7 Marks

So what are the “Marks” of this feature of his idea of church?

  1. I’m burdened for Jesus’ lost people.
  2. I’m tired of the status quo.  I am frustrated by problems that go unresolved and practices that need reforming.  Today is the day to start moving the ball down the field.
  3. I see “beyond” today.  I can see what the future would be like if we move beyond today’s changeable reality.  And while that future might move through pain, it is full of hope.
  4. I multiply growth.  More people, more groups, more impact, more cities, more whatever.  Somehow when God has me touch things, they increase.  Especially disciples.
  5. I see obstacles as opportunities.  Change is a resource.  Rules are made to be rewritten.  Not God’s rules, but man’s rules, of which there are an abundance.
  6. I attract like-minded, new-start people.  People tend to say “yes” to my invitations to follow, and we tend to have a good amount of unanimity in the journey.
  7. I start things without anyone telling me I should.  I’m talking clubs, ministries, groups, businesses….  Everywhere I go, I’m the guy or gal that launches new initiatives.  It just seems natural.  This characteristic is probably the most telling of your SE-ness.  And if this is really strong in you, years later those initiatives are still happening.

While one is able to understand point 1 as  a Biblical love for lost sinners, points 2-7 fit more closely with Ashoka, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Tom Watson of Forbes.

Watson’s Article “Are You A Social Entrepreneur” offers this list of five qualities (what Pr. Woolsey might call “marks”)

  1. Are you willing to bootstrap? Be willing to do it yourself.
  2. Can you look down the road? Stay patient, take the long view.
  3. Is failure an option? Prepare to fail, and grow from the experience.
  4. Do you know your limitations? Understand your talents … and limitations.
  5. Can you build a team? Be prepared to build a team.

Woolsey’s “most telling” charactaristic is #7, which corresponds directly to Watson’s point 1. Woolsey’s #3 matches Watsons #2. Woolsey’s #5 and #6 relate to Watson’s #5. Woolseys #5 corresponds to Watsons #3.

I am not certain that Woolsey was using Watson’s article. Rather, Watson and Woolsey are both based on a Social Entrepreneurship paradigm that derives from the work of Bill Drayton in the 1980s and following. Drayton worked together with others to establish Ashoka.

The Stanford Social Innovation Review describes the qualities of Social Entrepreneurship in the following way:

  1. The entrepreneur is attracted to [a] suboptimal equilibrium, seeing embedded in it an opportunity to provide a new solution, product, service, or process.
    [Woolsey’s: I’m burdened for Jesus’ lost people.]
  2. The entrepreneur is inspired to alter the unpleasant equilibrium.
    [Woolsey’s: I’m tired of the status quo]
  3. The entrepreneur thinks creatively and develops a new solution that dramatically breaks with the existing one.
    [Woolsey’s: I see obstacles as opportunities…Rules are made to be rewritten]
  4. Once inspired by the opportunity and in possession of a creative solution, the entrepreneur takes direct action. Rather than waiting for someone else to intervene or trying to convince somebody else to solve the problem, the entrepreneur takes direct action by creating a new product or service and the venture to advance it.
    [Woolsey’s: I start things without anyone telling me I should]
  5. Entrepreneurs demonstrate courage throughout the process of innovation, bearing the burden of risk and staring failure squarely if not repeatedly in the face. This often requires entrepreneurs to take big risks and do things that others think are unwise, or even undoable.
    [Woolsey’s: Relating again to “I see obstacles as opportunities”]
  6. [F]orging a new, stable equilibrium that releases trapped potential or alleviates the suffering of the targeted group, and through imitation and the creation of a stable ecosystem around the new equilibrium ensuring a better future for the targeted group and even society at large.
    [Woolsey’s: Can you look down the road? and Can you build a team?]

The degree to which particular points overlap in meaning between Woolsey and Walton and SSIR could be refined and expanded. But there is a distinction that should be made between Woolsey and these other sources. The other sources admit that they come from the socio-philosophical presuppositions of Social Entrepreneurship. Woolsey appears to be presenting these ideas as if they are newly minted. There may be proper attribution of these ideas elsewhere in his writings, but his “7 Marks” post makes no clear attributions.  Woolsey’s presentation also implies, without explicitly claiming, that his “marks” are able to show us an “apostolic’ originality in our way of doing what-ever-it-is that he is doing under the name of Sacramental Entrepreneurship

If this is so, then we wonder, why?

Woolsey’s 4th point “I multiply growth” and his explanation are particularly troubling when one understands Paul’s response to the debate about ministry and growth in the Corinthian congregation:

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 3)


Luther’s 7 Marks

Finally, the use of the term “7 Marks” is itself a disturbing issue. Confessional Lutheranism, that is Biblical Christianity, uses the term “marks” with reference to the Church of Christ in a particular way. Woolsey’s “marks” stand in stark contrast with Luther’s use and the use of the term “marks” of the Church in historical Lutheran theology.

Luther wrote On the Councils and the Church in 1539. It is found in volume 41 of the American Edition. In the third part of this work Luther describes “seven marks of the Church” through which a person can recognize the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

  1. The Word of God is in use by the people and is an effective mean of grace
  2. Baptism is used as Christ instituted and through which the regeneration of the sinners is worked
  3. The flock gather around the Lord’s Supper to receive the true body and blood of Christ for their forgiveness
  4. The Office of the Keys is exercised publicly as well as privately.
  5. Pastors/Ministers are called to administer the Word and Sacrament in accordance with the qualifications in Paul’s epistles.
  6. Public assembly for the administration of Word and Sacrament, prayer, praise, and giving of thanks to God.
  7. The suffering they endure because they confess the name of Christ as God and Savior from sin, bearing Christ’s Cross.

About Pastor Joseph Abrahamson

Pastor Joseph Abrahamson serves Faith Ev. Lutheran Church, Clara City, Minnesota (E.L.S.). He and his wife, Mary, have 10 children. Pastor Abrahamson is a graduate of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, and of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies. He has served on the Faculty/Staff at Bethany Lutheran College teaching Religion, Linguistics, Archaeology, and Self-Defense; and was on Staff at the University of Wisconsin as an Information Processing Consultant (Computer Geek) while doing graduate work in Semitics. Pastor Abrahamson served Clearwater Lutheran Parish (ELS) from 2001 to April 2015.


Wiki14 5/2 Cribbing From Social Entrepreneurs — 21 Comments

  1. This is a very good post. I am jealous. I wish I had written it.

    For years I have been saying that the Church Growthers are motivated by psychology (felt needs) and sociology (social trends) and Pastor Abrahamson proves it.

    Thank you for this and for the stark and sad comparison to Luther.

  2. There is a half truth in what Woolsey says. Well, maybe an eighth truth. He is describing a particular kind of pastor. There are some pastors who are entrepreneurs and that is OK. The problem is that he and the other Growthers make this out to be the number one trait of an effective pastor.

    Here is wrong. It is not even a necessary trait.

    The necessary traits (off the top of my head) are 1) knowledge of the Word, 2) be able to teach, 3) be above reproach (and the other Pauline moral standards) and 4) be conservative.

    To be conservative means the exact opposite of an entrepreneur in many ways. We are to be conservative in the sense that we are to conserve the Word of Christ, not be creative with new spiritual teachings and tecniques. Paul and Peter remind us everywhere to conserve what has been handed down and Jesus himself promised us that the Holy Spirit would help us to remember what he taught, not to be spiritual pioneers.

    I have noticed that some pastors are care takers, some are organizers, some are listeners, some are even entrepreneurs (which can be acceptable within certain bounds). These are all add-ons. None of them are essential. What is essential is to know the word and preach it in the full severity of the law and the boundless mercy of the Gospel.

    Woolsey and the 5/2 crowd wrongly make, as Abrahamson points out, entrepreneurship marks of the church and the pastorate.

  3. So basically if you’re discontent with church and you like to go out on your own and be a maverick, you’re a sacramental entrepreneur.

    Why does he think tinkering the church structure will change the effectiveness of the church in its mission? The problem is sinful people. What is the solution to THAT?

    The sermon you folks posted the other day from him… it was terrible. Jesus was mentioned, but then it went back to talking about what WE do or have done. Just like most of the beginning of the sermon was about. How does he think that using the word “sacrament” “supper” “baptism” etc over and over again somehow fixes that corruption of law, gospel allusion, law sandwich?

  4. Wow – this is a great post. It seems clear to me that the seminaries really need to be emphasizing Luther’s seven marks – and explicitly contrasting it to things like we see above. Quite a contrast.


  5. Thank you for posting this. I wonder if Woolsey or anyone associated with Crosspoint(e) or 5-2 have read this. If there is an ounce of humility or shred of confidence left in the our Lutheran confession, or the wisdom of Dr. Luther, I would hope this would make them think twice about the direction they are going. If not, perhaps it will help them realize they are not actually Lutheran and should be honest about their different theology and leave the Synod in peace. On the other hand, they probably see no inconsistency with their teaching and practice and the Lutheran Confession. Rather, as entrepreneurs, they are smugly convinced they are just taking it where it needs to go.

  6. Below are excerpts from Woolsey’s new book. Again, the concept of 7 is prevalent. Apparently, holding true to scripture and the confessions creates a holiness wall (emphasis added below). Also, note the support of his DP, both from an ecclesiastical supervisor role and from a financial perspective.

    Seven Steps to Start: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting Well (Woolsey,

    CrossPoint birthed out of a frustration that most of the mainline churches in my denomination spoke a language long gone. While the US went informal in its conversation and writing, my church body stayed formal in speech and action, ignoring the change in the culture and in essence erected a holiness wall that kept Jesus’ lost people from the things of Jesus. My desire in starting CrossPoint was to create a congregation that not only spoke the language of the local lost person but also loved that person so much we could not help but speak their language and love their music and adopt as many of their values as possible.

    I asked the president of the district for three things: permission for the congregation to worship in a way that spoke to the lost people of west Houston, support for starting large with multiple-staff from the beginning, and financial support for land and facility.

    The district president responded, “How you worship is a congregational issue, you can have as many staff as you want if you figure out how to pay for them, and how much land are you thinking?”

    I asked back, “How much land are you thinking?” He answered, “10 acres?” I countered, “40.” “Well, we’ll see,” he thought out loud.

    By the grace of God, the seven families joining us in the start already had a vision for the style of worship the community needed, God led us to a wonderful worship leader and an Energizer administrative assistant, and 46 acres came on the market in the area we wanted to be at an unbelievable price: $.56/square foot, due to the fact that half of the property was in the 100 year floodplain.

    The largest financial blessing, however, arrived in the form of a district and its Church Extension Fund who believed in what we were doing to the extent they backed us financially by not only loaning $3MM to this startup congregation of 100 worshipers, but also by paying the interest on an additional $1.6MM line of credit.

  7. One more observation that my wife keyed in on. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but notice that Woolsey invited 12 church planters to start FiveTwo. Again, maybe just a coincidence, but it does seem that Woolsey has an affinity for certain numbers.

    “In March 2009, after a few years of grousing about it, I invited 12 church planters to Katy to see what God might bring from our common discontent. We knew well the loneliness of planting coupled with the lack of experience and mentoring.”. -Seven Steps to Start: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting Well (Woolsey,

  8. Nice of CEF to give special loan breaks to un-Lutheran startups… but that’s the Texas plan.

    [And so smaller confessional congregations patronize their local banks.]

  9. “The largest financial blessing, however, arrived in the form of a district and its Church Extension Fund who believed in what we were doing to the extent they backed us financially by not only loaning $3MM to this startup congregation of 100 worshipers, but also by paying the interest on an additional $1.6MM line of credit.”

    And that’s why these people don’t leave The LC-MS. They can’t make it outside in the arena of competition because they’re peddling an old, old model and other people are doing it much, much better. But there’s always a district president around who thinks this is cool…stuff.

    Pray TLH 260, folks.

    Rev. George Naylor

  10. The difference between Rev. Woolsey’s seven marks and Luther’s seven marks: Luther lists what Christ is doing in the life of the congregation; Woolsey lists what he is doing. Which is more efficacious?

  11. @revgeorge #10

    @Scott Diekmann #11

    Pastor Naylor & Scott,

    Agree with both of you. One of the many travesties of Woolsey’s FiveTwo baloney is that massive financial backing was/is being provided by the Texas District President, REV. KENNETH M. HENNINGS. Rev. Hennings should repent or be defrocked for facilitating the promotion of heterodox teaching/practice within our church body. His actions are reprehensible.

  12. @Randy #12
    One of the many travesties of Woolsey’s FiveTwo baloney is that massive financial backing was/is being provided by the Texas District President

    Several Texas District Presidents… [Although the money really comes from “investors” in TXCEF and mission subsidies from loyal members of LCMS.]
    I looked for a start date on the web site and didn’t find it, but Crosspoint(\e) pre-dates Hennings.
    Our SP Emeritus pushed CG hard and the District was a member of Willowcreek when he was the Texas DP. It’s all the same garbage.

  13. Helen,

    Thanks for the info. You’re right. Kieschnick was the man at the time. However, Hennings was the man that brought this to Kieschnick. Here’s the video proof that documents Henning’s role in planting “Woolsey’s Wolf Nursery” along side Kieschnick, so they both should repent or be defrocked.

    [vimeo 16945677 w=500 h=300] CrossPoint: Taking a Risk – Ep 1 from crosspt media on Vimeo.

  14. @Randy,

    Is this the same red chair of the 2010 Synodical Convention “Red Chair Moments” or something like that?

    I think it is interesting that 5-2 is attempting to redefine terminology I’ve come to learn. For example, using sacramental, something that is set apart for holy use, is being redefined as common by adopting the “lost’s” language and songs, etc. In essence, what is really being said by the 5-2 crowd is this, ‘Let’s take something holy like the body and blood of our Lord, tarnish it so it looks common and hope the lost (unbelievers) like it and will join our group.’

    1 Peter 1:13 tells us to gird up the loins of our minds, to set our hopes fully on the Grace that will be brought to us; and like obedient children, to not be conformed to the passions of our former ignorance, etc.

    In 2 Peter 2:1-3 we are warned about the false prophets and teachers, who will secretly bring in heresies and with their sensuality (words and actions that will appease the “lost”) the truth will be blasphemed.

    I am hoping this gets nipped in the bud, soon.


  15. @Kiley Campbell #15
    @helen #13

    Helen, Pres. Hennings is something like 67. Is he running again for DP? I know Benke isn’t in Atlantic. He’s calling it a career. But then there is the environment, possible grooming of a successor. What is the word on the ground in Texas?

  16. @Kiley Campbell #15

    Yes, this was a “Red Chair Moment.” You can still find all the other “Red Chair Moment” videos on Crosspoint’s Vimeo site. I agree with your comments, but I doubt anything will be done. What a mess.

  17. revgeorge :
    “The largest financial blessing, however, arrived in the form of a district and its Church Extension Fund who believed in what we were doing to the extent they backed us financially by not only loaning $3MM to this startup congregation of 100 worshipers, but also by paying the interest on an additional $1.6MM line of credit.”

    But you don’t understand. These $$ are for the souls of well-to-do suburbanites in Katy.

  18. Just to be clear. There is nothing wrong with planting churches in new suburbs or towns. We should do that and always have. I just find shocking Woolsey’s bald statement that he is looking for male engineers as the group he is trying to get. It comes off as slimy and just going for the $$.

  19. @Mrs. Hume #19
    There is nothing wrong with planting churches in new suburbs or towns.
    Katy was growing when Crosspoint moved in. But I’m reasonably sure that the LCMS church already there had some seats available. Trouble is, it was a traditional (and beautiful) Lutheran church… the kind Texas wants to “transform” … or close down.

    It comes off as slimy and just going for the $$.

    Nothing new, I’ve heard statements like it in a church meeting.
    It is “just going for the $$.”

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