Start Your Own Ministry...The Easy Way

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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.