Over the next couple weeks, I will be writing a series of articles detailing some of the key values that will be drivers of the 801South movement. If you are a reader who sees yourself as potentially playing a role in 801South, hopefully these posts will help you to further discern that potential. If you are just a casual reader, I hope these values will help you to understand the future of the established institutional church.
Today’s topic is intentional investment.
What does it mean to invest in someone? Investment is all about utilizing current resources for the sake of receiving a future profit through appreciating the value of those current resources. When I deduct 20% of my gross salary each pay period and invest it in my retirement fund, I am utilizing my current assets to levy an interest so that it will be of higher value at some point in the future.
Keeping one eye on the present and one eye on the future is vital to successful investment. One must understand the value of her current resources as well as how to best raise the value of those resources for the future. When I put both eyes (all of my attention, focus) on the current resources alone, I miss the opportunity for growth in the future. In the established church, this is often the case, because although every local church is technically built for those outside of the building, our human nature influences us to make decisions with an inward focus. On the other hand, when we focus only on those who are outside (and potential future opportunity), we neglect the value of our current resources. Therefore, rather than appreciating (growing in value), people in whom no one is investing depreciate. The current resource is eventually depleted. Maintaining this balance is very important.
So what does it mean to invest in someone? Take a look at the work of Jesus the man. Jesus taught large groups, Jesus healed individuals, Jesus walked (What’s up, Kanye?). Jesus used these tools (teaching, healing, travel) to attribute value to his current resources as he revealed God and God’s plan. His closest relationships, however, were relationships of investment. He spent most of his time investing in a select group of individuals.
In the church, we use a big word to describe all forms of teaching; discipleship. When we use the word discipleship in 801South, it refers to a forum and detailed process of mentoring/apprenticing for the sake of appreciating the value of our greatest resource: people. We want people to be better people. If your father did not intentionally mentor you on how to be a faithful husband or father, I want someone who has been mentored in that role, to fill that void in your life so that your relationships can be as healthy as possible. Your wife, your children, and others will appreciate the effort. You will be of a higher value to them. And if I personally get that opportunity, it might take the form of teaching you how to lead a small group Bible study, but through that process, I will make myself vulnerable in allowing you to see my struggles and relational blemishes so that ultimately you can learn what it looks like to desire to follow Jesus with everything God has given you. Other 801South leaders will do the same.
Growing people through maintaining a culture of intentional investment is a driving value for 801South. The process has yet to be solidified and it will be tweaked as we move forward with this movement. We will, however, make it simple for people to invest in people, because, quite simply, life is about people and people are about relationships. There will be comfort for those entering this movement in that they will be named as one in whom a leader is investing from the very beginning. The current resource will know their value through providing guidance to those who will one day take their place. The process will, therefore, value the current and increase the value of the future.
The return on our investments will be changed lives, more meaningful relationships, and greater focus on making decisions for the sake of the eternal. Just like my retirement fund will not return a profit accidentally, the relational investment of people into people through 801South will require continual intentionality.