A Disruptive Generosity, Mac 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.”
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.