The Essence of an Irresistible Invitation

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The Essence of an Irresistible Invitation

Charlie Paparelli

A recent conversation with my friend William caused me to reflect on how people get invited to the High Tech Prayer Breakfast. This got me thinking about my first prayer breakfast invite.

As I was having lunch with William, he told me how he was invited to his first Atlanta High Tech Prayer Breakfast. 

When he got the invite his immediate thought was, “If Joe asks me to do anything, I do it. But a prayer breakfast?” 

William continued, “Joe is a decade older than me. He is one of my most admired fraternity brothers and a guy who lives life right. He was such a great mentor while I was at Georgia Tech and early in my career. I have so much respect for him.

“So, I agreed to go,” concluded William.

My first prayer breakfast story.

Robert and I worked together on a startup. We spent many a night huddled in the computer room writing and testing software for the next release of the product. We were in business planning and review sessions together. We hung out after work. We grew to love each other. We were friends. Then Robert moved to Dallas, Texas.

Robert was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. I didn’t want anything to do with religion. I’d had a bad experience with religion, and I wasn’t going back.

Eight years after we stopped working together, Robert returned to Atlanta. He invited me to the Atlanta High Tech Prayer Breakfast. Over those eight years, much had changed in my life. I was now married for 16 years and had four children. I had lost my best job ever and was attending AA meetings.

Robert did not know this was going on in my life. He didn’t know because I didn’t tell him. But having worked in the startup trenches together, we still had a relationship. He leveraged this relationship when he asked me to attend the prayer breakfast with him.

Timing is everything.

Robert didn’t know it, but I was sick and tired of being in charge of my life. I felt like an employee who was promoted to a position he was not equipped to handle. I felt alone and ill-equipped to be a good provider, good businessman, good husband, and good father. It all seemed too much, overwhelming at times. Little did Robert know; his invitation came just in time.

I was open to hearing about God.

Back to William’s story.

William said, “I was overwhelmed by the number of people in attendance. It seemed like thousands. Because it was Atlanta tech folks, I either knew or recognized many of them. I felt right at home.”

“But something happened at breakfast. One of the speakers asked, ‘Who is in charge of your life?’ I was stunned by the question. It hit me hard because I knew I needed God in my life. I believed in God but didn’t know him or how to connect with him.

“Then, the speaker asked the whole audience to stand if today was the day we would give our life to Jesus Christ and be reconciled to God. There were over one thousand people there, but I thought he was talking just to me. Before I knew it, I was standing.

“Joe came through again. I thank God he loved me enough to invite me to the Atlanta High Tech Prayer Breakfast. It changed my life!”

Here’s the key.

Our two stories track perfectly.

A friend who loved us invited us to attend the breakfast.

And that’s why we had to say, “Yes.”

Mark your calendar: High Tech Prayer Breakfast is Friday, October 4. Secure your table now.

Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.

The Story of Blitz Thru the Bible

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The Aha Moment Behind Blitz Thru the Bible 

Ask a Different Question, 
Get the Right Answer

Charlie Paparelli

I woke up with a start. I knew the answer. I was asking the wrong question.

The question I was wrestling with was this, “How do I get the High Tech Prayer Breakfast table hosts to invite their guests to an event after the breakfast?”

Suddenly I knew I was asking the wrong question.

The real question should be, “How do I get the guests to invite their table hosts to an event after the prayer breakfast?”

The answer was simple. Create an event the guests want to go to whether or not their table host is interested. 

Easier said than done, you might think. But God is big. He came up with just the thing.

In 1993, I was invited to my very first High Tech Prayer Breakfast. It was the second breakfast ever. I left that breakfast interested in knowing more about God and, more specifically, Jesus. The message from the speaker was clear: “You, too, can have a personal relationship with God.” 

I wanted to know more.

I contacted Bill Leonard who I found out was the founder of the High Tech Prayer Breakfast. He recommended going to a Bible study as my next step in learning more. I went but I was lost. I like context. I like to know where I am and where I am going. 

My previous experience with the Bible was church services. In the service, the Bible was opened and a selected reading was recited. Even though it might have been an interesting sentence or two, I didn’t have any context. Where did it come from? Why these sentences? How does it fit into the story of the book? The questions kept coming for me. I didn’t know where to go to get them answered.

Then I started leading a Bible study

When I started to lead a Bible study, I realized pretty quickly I was not alone. The people who attended wanted to know the same thing. They wanted context. So I asked them, “Who wants to take a year and go through the whole Bible with me?” The hands went up. I did this with them, and the result was amazing.

We learned about the God of the Bible, the significance of Jesus, the message of the Bible, and the organization of the Bible. 

We had context!

When I woke up that night, I knew this was the answer to the question. The next problem to solve was more simply stated. “How can I lead people through the whole Bible in less than two hours?”

I dedicated an entire week to solving this problem.

This was the birth of Blitz through the Bible. 

I went over the one-year curriculum we covered in my Bible study group. I then selected the readings which were most relevant to creating a context in the shortest amount of time. With these selected readings, I created a format which could be used to engage every attendee and keep it interesting, fun, and informative.

Blitz through the Bible was created.

The first time we announced this at the breakfast, over 400 guests expressed an interest in attending. 

We held the first Blitz at Villa Christina Restaurant in Sandy Springs. When I walked into the ballroom, I was shocked. There were over 200 present. 

The reviews were amazing. 

  • “In two hours I came to understand the message of the Bible.”

  • “I now know who the God of the Bible really is.”

  • “When you read, ‘They created man and woman in their image,’ it blew my mind.”

  • “Now I know who Jesus is and why he came. And I was surprised that he promises to return.”

  • “This was the best two and a half hours I ever spent seeking my spirituality.”


All this was so encouraging. I wish I could say I was smart enough to come up with this idea and curriculum. I’m not. I simply got to the right question. God gave the answer.

Come to the next Blitz through the Bible.

Come join us on June 19th at Atlanta Tech Village from 5 pm to 7:30 pm. If you ever wanted to understand the Bible, to get the context I talked about, this is your opportunity. Sign up here.

Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.

Amie Hood's Story

Do you need to be reaffirmed?

We commit our life to Jesus Christ. In what seems like a blink of an eye, we are living our life. We want to make the right decisions, hang with the right people, and achieve our goals. 

But it's not enough. 

We want to be affirmed. We need people to say, "Yes. You really are okay. In fact, you are better than okay. You're great!"

My co-worker and dearest friend Amie Hood shares her journey for affirmation. Her story begins in an idyllic setting which overtime is enveloped by the chaos of life. 

Every day I work with this woman. 

She shows me what it looks like to follow Jesus. What it looks like to know you are loved in spite of how you might feel today.

I ask you to take a couple of minutes and watch Amie's story. She will remind you God's got this, whatever it is.
 
Charlie 
 
Charlie Paparelli
President
High Tech Ministries

About the video

If you would like help in crafting your story, contact Todd Miechiels. His ministry, the 315project.com, helps people like you and me develop our story and then capture it on video. 

He will take you on a spiritual journey which will bring you closer to Christ. It is a great experience and the next step in growing your ministry. Go to 315project.comand watch the 2-minute video. Then contact Todd to find out more.

Tell Your (Whole) Story

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How to be a Christian in Business

Tell Your (Whole) Story

Charlie Paparelli

This is part of a series on taking Jesus to work.

I was asked to present to Peachtree United Methodist Church on the topic of becoming known as a Christian. This forced me to think about what happened to me after I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

You'll see how each step was guided by my good friend and mentor, Bill Leonard. Bill, with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, put me in situations where I shared my faith. Most of the time, it was by just being there, but sometimes I needed to speak boldly.


I attended a breakfast the other day at the invitation of Bill Leonard. He wanted me and others to meet Nancy Ortberg. She is the wife of pastor, writer, and speaker John Ortberg who leads a church in Silicon Valley. She leads Transforming the Bay Area with Christ, a nonprofit in the Valley started by Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware.


Bill is always on the lookout for great speakers who will share their faith story for the High Tech Prayer Breakfast. He believed Nancy would be a good referral source for speakers. After all, she and her husband have been serving in the Valley for over ten years.

There were six of us at that breakfast—Nancy, Bill, me, Blake Patton of Tech Square Ventures, Chad Merrill of Fellowship of Companies for Christ International, and Tim Erwin, a behavioral psychologist, author, and speaker. We only had an hour, and there were multiple agendas.

At one point during the breakfast, Tim Erwin looked at Blake and said, “I don’t know you. Could you share a bit of your story?”

I know Tim was looking to understand what Blake does for a living and why he was at this breakfast. But that’s not how Blake took the question.

If Blake was asked this question in any other environment, I am sure he would have talked about his resume and Tech Square Ventures. But because of this very Christian crowd, he answered more completely. He shared his life with all of us. He talked about his wife, Stephanie, and his kids, Luke and Alexa. Then he talked about his career and transitioned to his faith in Jesus Christ and how it happened. I noticed everyone leaned in for this part of his story because it was here he shared his heart. He finished up with the great work he is doing with his VC fund and Engage at the ATDC.

But it didn’t stop there.

Tim’s request of Blake to tell his story turned into each of us telling our story. Person by person in a clockwise direction, we shared. First Blake, then Chad, then me, then Tim, and finally Bill. For some reason, Nancy didn’t share her story. It was probably because she was our host and was assumed to be so well known.

The breakfast was special.

Everybody’s agenda was satisfied, but something no one expected happened. We really got to know each other in a very short time. When our hour was up, Nancy had to run to another meeting. All of us Atlanta people were left to talk. It was interesting how we paired off and stuck around for the next hour. 

I believe this happened because we became closer over a meal. We shared our stories. We shared our hearts. We shared our struggles. We shared our personal lives. We shared our successes. We shared our common belief in Jesus as our Savior. All in one hour with six people present.

I do this all the time.

I recently met with a young man who just sold his business. He netted close to $100 million. An amazing accomplishment at any age. And here he is in his early thirties.

I was introduced to him by a friend who said, “I met Tom at an industry association we both belong to. He just sold his company. I think you can help him sort through his next step in life and career.”

Tom and I met at Starbucks. 

It was busy and noisy, but we found one of those two-person tables wedged among lots of other two-person tables. To our left was a lady talking to someone across from her. To our right was a guy wearing headphones who was typing on his computer.

I asked Tom lots of questions about his early life and business and his life now. I got him talking...a lot. As I was about to ask the next question, he stopped me and said, “I was really curious about your story.”

When he asked this, I knew I needed to tell my “whole”  story. Not only my career but also my family, my success, my alcoholism, and my search for the God who saved me from this dreaded disease. 

It all came out. 

And it all flowed quite naturally. Tom, who is Jewish, listened intently and respectfully, just as I had to him.

We walked away from that one-hour meeting closer to each other. He shared his life, and I shared mine. He, a man in his early thirties, and me, a man in my mid-sixties. But we connected because we told each other our whole stories. 

This series was originally a talk. To listen click here.

Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.
 

Rusty Gordon's Story

The moment I met Rusty I liked him. He was authentic. After 25 years of friendship, he is still authentic. Rusty is a man's man. God uses Rusty in a way he never uses me. I think of Rusty as a real-life Marvel character who is all about Jesus Christ.

Take the seven minutes to listen to Rusty tell his story. You won't be able to turn it off. When the video is completed, you're going to want to call him and talk. 

Rusty impacted my life by sharing his life. We meet regularly over dinner. We share our faith, family and business. I leave these dinners knowing Jesus was right there with us. He is our personal Lord and personal Savior.

Enjoy!
 
Charlie 

Charlie Paparelli
President
High Tech Ministries

About the video

If you would like help in crafting your story, contact Todd Miechiels. His ministry, the 315project.com, helps people like you and me develop our story and then capture it on video. 

He will take you on a spiritual journey which will bring you closer to Christ. It is a great experience and the next step in growing your ministry. Go to 315project.comand watch the 2-minute video. Then contact Todd to find out more.

Share What's On Your Mind

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How to be a Christian in Business

Share What's On Your Mind

Charlie Paparelli

This is part of a series on taking Jesus to work.

I was asked to present to Peachtree United Methodist Church on the topic of becoming known as a Christian. This forced me to think about what happened to me after I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

You'll see how each step was guided by my good friend and mentor, Bill Leonard. Bill, with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, put me in situations where I shared my faith. Most of the time, it was by just being there, but sometimes I needed to speak boldly.


If you believe it and live it and share it, people won’t forget it.

In several conversations over a period of years, Richard Brock, my former partner in my first business, has repeated what Ricky Steele told him.

Richard brings it up whenever we are in the midst of struggling with a challenge he is facing. 

He tells the story like this: 

“I was attending a tech conference in Atlanta over fifteen years ago when I ran into Ricky Steele. In the conversation, I was telling him about a business problem which was bringing me to my knees. 

“Ricky replied, ‘Having faith in Jesus doesn’t mean you won’t have problems in your life. But your faith in Jesus will help you get through those problems.’”

Richard told me, “When Ricky said this, it didn’t mean anything to me. I just let it go. But months later, I found myself struggling again, and this time it was a personal issue. That’s when I remembered what Ricky said. It jumped into my head like he was standing next to me.”

He went on, “I can’t tell you how important Ricky’s belief statement was to me. I know Ricky is a Christian. He never hid that from anyone. But what he told me helped me grow in my faith, even though it took a while to become a part of me and what I believe. Now the first place I go when I’m struggling is to Jesus. And you know what? He gets me through whatever I’m dealing with at the time.”

The conversation Richard had with Ricky so many years ago literally changed Richard’s life. 

I’m sure when Ricky reads this, he isn’t even going to remember the conversation. He won’t remember what it was about. Nor will he remember speaking those two sentences. That’s because Ricky’s foundation is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who is within him.

Ricky thinks about Jesus because he walks with Jesus. The words he shared with Richard simply rolled off his tongue because he is a follower of Jesus. I know Ricky. He is a lot like me. If it is on our mind, it is out of our mouth. 

What I learned.

Being an active witness for Jesus Christ in the workplace is simple. It is an outpouring of who I am and how I serve. If I am serving myself that day, what I say doesn’t stick to anyone. If I’m serving Jesus, what I say sticks to everyone. 

I’ve run into people who told me, “When we met, you told me something I’ll never forget. It changed my life.”

I think of these as Holy Spirit moments. I know I am not capable of coming up with just the right words which change lives. But God is capable. He is in the changing lives business.

I always ask, “What did I say?”

Then they tell me and I say, “That was good, really good. I know it didn’t come from me. That was the Holy Spirit speaking through me.”

God uses us wherever we are. Just tell people what’s on your mind, trusting He put it there.


This series was originally a talk. To listenclick here.

Brian Hill's Story

Charlie Paparelli

I met Brian 15 years ago at a High Tech Prayer Breakfast leadership meeting. I remember the story he told me like it was yesterday. 

He said, "I was a follower of Jesus Christ and working for a tech company in Atlanta. I wasn't sure how to be a witness for Jesus in my workplace. I was really struggling with that. A friend of mine, who I wasn't sure was a Christian, invited me to the prayer breakfast. I walked into the Cobb Galleria that morning, and I got it. I understood the purpose of the Breakfast in an instant. I said to myself, 'Where has this been all my life?' And that was my first breakfast."

Brian stepped into leadership quickly. He volunteered to lead the HTM Golf Tournament and did it for several years. He also was a two-term Board member. He is still an active Table Host and promoter of the Breakfast. And most importantly, a good personal friend and brother in Christ. Please take the time to enjoy Brian's story and how God blesses a man of God.
 
Charlie 
 
Charlie Paparelli
President
High Tech Ministries

About the video

If you would like help in crafting your story, contact Todd Miechiels. His ministry, the 315project.com, helps people like you and me develop our story and then capture it on video.

He will take you on a spiritual journey which will bring you closer to Christ. It is a great experience and the next step in growing your ministry. Go to 315project.com and watch the 2-minute video. Then contact Todd to find out more.

Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.

Start Your Own Ministry...The Easy Way

Mar 2019 Blog.jpg

How to be a Christian in Business

Start Your Own Ministry ...The Easy Way

Charlie Paparelli

This is part of a series on taking Jesus to work.

I was asked to present to Peachtree United Methodist Church on the topic of becoming known as a Christian. This forced me to think about what happened to me after I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

You'll see how each step was guided by my good friend and mentor, Bill Leonard. Bill, with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, put me in situations where I shared my faith. Most of the time, it was by just being there, but sometimes I needed to speak boldly.

 
“I need your help. Will you meet with me?” asks the entrepreneur.

“Sure. I’d be happy to,” I say. “Let’s do this. I’ll meet you at the ATDC at 10:30 am, and we’ll go through your business. When our meeting is over, would you be willing to join me at a Bible study at the ATDC? It starts at 11:45 am and ends promptly at 1 pm. You’ll meet some new people and have a new experience. You’ll even get a free lunch. What do you say?” 

More often than not, people say, “Yes.”

This has kept the Grace@Work at the ATDC front and center for me. It has also helped to grow the study. Cortney Alexander leads the study and has been leading for a couple of years. He does a great job, and people do come back. Many have come to know the Word of God, and many now know Jesus as King and Savior because of this simple invite.

And all I do is ask people to join me after I help them with their business. 

Here’s how it all started.

In October 1994 I got a call from Bill Leonard. He is the premier real estate broker for fast growth startups in our Atlanta tech community. He is also the founder of the High Tech Prayer Breakfast. 

He told me that he and Emma Morris were going to lead a four-week Bible study after the Breakfast. 

“Why are you calling me?” I asked.

“I found you that great office space in Interstate North. Emma and I think this would be a perfect location to host people who are interested in attending a Bible study. So can we use your conference room?” he asked.

“When is the study?” I replied.

“The study will run from 7 am to 8 am on Fridays. I’ll even pay you for any coffee we drink. Will you give me access to your office and let us use your conference room and kitchen?” he asked.

I answered, “That is not a problem. I’ll get you a key, and don’t worry about the coffee.” 

“Thank you.” Then he added, “You know you can join us.”

I was thinking to myself, I’ve got enough going on with my wife, driving the kids to school, and investing and helping operate three businesses. I don’t have time for this.

But I said, “Sure, Bill. Since it is only four weeks, I’ll be happy to join you and Emma.”

That was how I started going to Bible study in a tech company office. That’s how the first Bible study started in my office. 

At the end of the fourth meeting, Bill announced, “Well, that’s it. This is the last meeting. Thanks for attending.”

I said, “Hold on! I like coming to this Bible study. I was learning a lot about the Bible, and it was great to discuss my questions about God and Jesus with everybody. Why does this have to be the last meeting?”

I looked around, and the other five people in the study, besides Bill and Emma, were all agreeing with me.

Bill said, “Well, I’m not signing up to lead a study here going forward.” 

Emma jumped in and said, “I’ll come for a couple of weeks to make sure you guys are on track, but I’m not a long-term leader either.” 

I said, “OK. I’ll lead the study since this is my office. Is that OK with all of you?” Everyone agreed.

Emma stepped in and said, “You’ve never led a study, and you really don’t know the Bible, do you?”

“Nope.” I answered. “But I promise we will read the Bible and discuss it. My interest is to continue to do what you did for the last four weeks.”

Emma said, “OK. I’ll come for a few weeks. I’ll be there to help you lead. I’ll guide you on how to facilitate a Bible study. If you do OK and everybody stays interested, I’ll step out and give it to you guys.”

Within a year, that study grew from five of us to over thirty people. We kept inviting our friends and business associates to join us. At one point, I would be leading the study in our conference room with people two deep and with chairs behind me leading to my lobby. It was nuts. It wasn’t long before we split the study into two groups.

God really blessed it.

As I look back, I see the significance of using this Bible study as my own ministry. That Bible study was initially the ministry of the founding five guys. It grew, as did Cortney’s ministry at the ATDC, to include many others. 

If you attend one of the Grace@Work groups on a regular basis, I challenge you to make it your ministry. Your way of introducing people to the God of the Bible and his Son, Jesus Christ. All you have to do is ask them to join you. How simple is that?

This series was originally a talk. To listen click here.

Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.