Review: A Disruptive Generosity

A Disruptive Generosity

A Disruptive GenerosityMac Pier. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2017.

Summary: Thirty-one stories of entrepreneurial business leaders whose strategic stewardship of their lives and their money have resulted in transformed lives and cities across the globe.

Mac Pier is a catalyst and a storyteller and he leverages these skills to host gatherings of Christian leaders in the business world to consider how they might impact their cities and their world. Then he tells the stories of these leaders to encourage others with these aspirations about the difference they can make with their skills and their resources. He serves as founder and CEO of the New York City Leadership Center and has launched the Movement Day conferences. The Movement Day website claims, “Since Movement Day’s inception, over 18,000 ministry, church, business, seminary, university and foundation leaders have come to be challenged, inspired, and catalyzed in the advancement of gospel movement.”

I reviewed an earlier collection of stories of fifteen leaders by Pier under the title Consequential Leadership back in 2014. He outlines four premises that form the basis of his work in that book:

1. Cities shape culture.
2. Gospel movements change cities.
3. Catalytic leaders launch movements.
4. Mentors and catalytic events shape leaders.

This new book is about catalytic leaders with financial resources who use those resources strategically to launch movements. I think an alternate title of this book could have been The Joy of Generosity because one of the undercurrents running through all the stories in this book is the deep sense of excitement and satisfaction experienced by people as they discovered strategic ways to invest the resources that came from business success to bring healing and renewal to their cities and in other needy situations around the world.

The book consists of thirty-one stories of generous people. It is suggested in the Introduction that you read one of these each day. Each story is connected to a verse in Isaiah focusing on God’s vision for the world. The stories are not simply about generous people but about movements in which such people come together, captured by a vision of the opportunity they have for kingdom influence. The stories also underscore relational networks. Pier talks about the book as a kind of relational tree connected by Lausanne Conferences and Movement Days. Each story concludes with succinct “Points for Reflection” and a prayer related to the person or persons he has just profiled (some chapters profile a couple people who come together in a joint venture).

In his chapter titled “Fruitful” Pier tells the stories of two men who served as part of the initial core group that launched the New York City Leadership Center, Lew Bakes and Tony Lembke:

“Lew suggested we follow Christ’s disciple model and find twelve investors who would each commit one hundred thousand dollars a year for three years to launch the NYCLC. He was the first one in.

Lew’s model inspired other leaders to join the team. Within our first year, we had raised nearly $1 million.

.  .  .

Tony Lembke was another member of the initial core group that launched the NYC Leadership Center in 2008. He attends The Presbyterian Church at New Providence in New Jersey, led by Jeff Ebert. Jeff invited Tony to a luncheon we had at the Hilton Hotel at 53rd and 6th Avenue, and within a few weeks Tony followed up with me. He wanted to join the core group of investors to launch the NYCLC. Tony felt a strong call to get involved when he heard that the goal was to create a ‘tipping point’ of Christian grace to the world’s most influential city and to bring leadership resources to pastors and Christian leaders in the NYC metro area.”

The book is a bracing journey that takes us from New York to Cape Town, to India, South Korea, Singapore, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, and the great cities of America–Dallas, Charlotte, Palm Beach, Phoenix and many others including Columbus, Ohio where I live. From Lydia in the book in Acts, the Clapham Sect that surrounded William Wilberforce to the present day, “gospel patrons” have played a decisive role in accelerating the ministry of the gospel throughout the world. Through generous giving, these gospel patrons disrupt both the status quo of our society’s consumption ethic, and the status quo of an alienated, suffering world.

With the recently passed massive tax deductions that benefit the wealthy and corporate world the most, it seems that for believing people who believe wealth is entrusted to us for the glory of God and the good of the world, we’ve been given a disruptive opportunity. We can take money once given to government, and instead of spending it on ourselves, use it shrewdly and well to advance the only kingdom that endures for eternity. That, it seems to me, is a good kind of disruptiveness!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


What the Republicans Are Missing! [Update–The Democrats are as Well!]

"Columbus-ohio-skyline-panorama". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Columbus-ohio-skyline-panorama“. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Gotcha! You were thinking this was a political post–even a rant! No, I just wanted to talk about what I thought the Republicans will miss since they have decided not to have their convention in MY HOMETOWN! I love Columbus and think they would have as well. Here are some of the things they are missing:

1. Jeni’s Ice Cream. Yeah, I know you can get Jeni’s in other cities, but in Columbus, you can get it as soon as you get off the plane at Port Columbus. And you can visit the original Jeni’s in the Short North, just up the street from the Convention Center. Recently rated the best ice cream in the country in one ranking.

2. The Short North. This is a great collection of eateries, galleries and shops, again, just up the street from the Convention Center. Admittedly, probably a bit avant garde for Tea Partiers.

3. The North Market and its great collection of 30+ vendors of a variety of foods, most grown locally.

4. The Arena District. Lots of restaurants adjacent to downtown hotels, Nationwide Arena, a cinema and downtown apartments. This is one city where lots of people live downtown!

5. Huntington Park and the Clippers. OK, we are not a major league baseball town. But Huntington Park, in the Arena District, was rated the best minor league ball park in the country the year it opened. It is a truly great place to spend a summer evening at reasonable prices. And it is great baseball without the big league crowds!

6. The Ohio Statehouse. Frank Lloyd Wright loved its Greek Revival architecture, it went through a wonderful restoration in the last decade or so, there are free, informative tours, and actually a great museum shop in the political hub of Ohio.

7. COSI. COSI (Center of Science and Industry) is one of the best hands-on science museums in the country. Kids love it and parents will learn a thing or two. Also conveniently located downtown.

8. German Village. This is a historically preserved, and revitalized community of brick homes, brick streets, restaurants and other attractions just south of downtown Columbus. My book-loving friends would love The Book Loft where you can meander through 32 rooms of bargain books.

9. The Ohio State University. Summer is a great time to wander around Ohio State. The Wexner Center for the Arts is interesting both for its architecture and for the various shows of contemporary art they host. They also have a summer film series.

10. The Columbus Zoo. This is the zoo that Jack Hanna made famous on David Letterman that was voted Number One Zoo in America a few years back. On a hot day, there is also Zoombezi Bay where you can cool off.

I’m literally just getting started. Columbus is not only a great place to live but also a great place to visit. We are not a “hub” airport and don’t have light rail (the two biggest objections I’ve heard to hosting a convention here). The lack of hub status means several airlines compete for your business which often means low fares, and it is easy via rental or cab to get downtown in ten minutes from the airport, or most anywhere else in under 30 minutes most of the time.  Well, I hear the Democrats are still considering us… [Update one year later: can you believe it–the Democrats gave up all this to go to Philadelphia!]