Katy, 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?
- I’m burdened for Jesus’ lost people.
- 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.
- 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.
- I multiply growth. More people, more groups, more impact, more cities, more whatever. Somehow when God has me touch things, they increase. Especially disciples.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”)
- Are you willing to bootstrap? Be willing to do it yourself.
- Can you look down the road? Stay patient, take the long view.
- Is failure an option? Prepare to fail, and grow from the experience.
- Do you know your limitations? Understand your talents … and limitations.
- 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:
- 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.]
- The entrepreneur is inspired to alter the unpleasant equilibrium.
[Woolsey’s: I’m tired of the status quo]
- 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]
- 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]
- 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”]
- [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:
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
9 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
- The Word of God is in use by the people and is an effective mean of grace
- Baptism is used as Christ instituted and through which the regeneration of the sinners is worked
- The flock gather around the Lord’s Supper to receive the true body and blood of Christ for their forgiveness
- The Office of the Keys is exercised publicly as well as privately.
- Pastors/Ministers are called to administer the Word and Sacrament in accordance with the qualifications in Paul’s epistles.
- Public assembly for the administration of Word and Sacrament, prayer, praise, and giving of thanks to God.
- The suffering they endure because they confess the name of Christ as God and Savior from sin, bearing Christ’s Cross.