I'm so excited to introduce you all to my friend, Mike Sharrow. Mike currently holds the position of Area Chairman for the C12 Group in San Antonio where his role is to disciple business leaders in everything that they do in the running of a successful organization. He has an impressive corporate background as well as incredible ministry success as well. I first met Mike when he was serving as the Executive Pastor at Grace Point Church here in San Antonio where he served on staff for 4 years and continues to worship there. His heart for unity in the city and desire to serve other local congegations and ministries blew me away. Most of this has been done through his coordinating the Global Leadership Summit for the past 5 years in San Antonio connecting, encouraging, and ministering to local leaders. He has become a good friend and encourager to me for several years now and great a blessing to serve in the same city alongside a leader with such a pure and passionate heart for Jesus. Here are my 3 Questions with Mike:
1) Having worked in both the marketplace and in a church, what do you see as the major differences and what do you see that each could learn from the other?
The church is the training camp, the marketplace is the field of play. The church is the locker room, the weight room, the gym while the marketplace is where plays are made, combat is conducted, muscle is tested. The people of God (lovingly referred to as the Body of Christ, the called out fellowship, or the Church) gather globally on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) to celebrate our identity through the resurrection of Jesus. We gather out of Biblical imperative and to worship, to learn, to fellowship, to celebrate. Our Monday through Saturday authenticates the worship and celebration of our Sundays. The organized Church is where we find much of our learning and instruction, but that theology is metabolized into faith or revealed as merely aspirational in how we live in the fields and markets of our lives. Jesus commissioned us to “as you are going” be making disciples – not as we are huddled.
Followers of Jesus in the marketplace need to approach the Church not as a place to get compartmentalized inspiration, but truly as the nexus of people who are called by Jesus to proclaim His Kingdom now in all arenas of life. The theology we learn and the truths we sing about must be worked out into the messiness of daily living. God is lord of all or not at all, and when Colossians tells us Christ holds all things together we can all nod our heads until we’re facing stress financially, professionally, relationally…our real theology gets demonstrated on a stage for the world to see in the “town square.”
The marketplace can learn from the Church: (1) that everything truly does hinge on Jesus, (2) the power of motivating people to a mission instead of a paycheck, (3) how much can be accomplished when teams volunteer for tasks out of commitment instead of submitting out of obligation, (4) realizing the people involved ARE the business--not just a means to a business objective. Even the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge extolled his stingy peers “Mankind IS our business!” after his conversion.
The Church can learn from the marketplace: (1) to run the race as to win it as if there was limited time and a goal worth losing everything for, (2) the worshipful act of strategy to ensure mission (genuine is not opposed to disciplined), (3) the power of measures and accountability to achieve good stewardship of time, resources and people, (4) the power of a Christ-infused business person is not a bigger tithe but exponential evangelism and Gospel advancement in the community.
I could go on, but those are the biggies.
2) I have been amazed by your heart for unity in the Church and would love to hear your vision both for San Antonio and the Church globally in how we can most effectively unite around common mission?
My heart is to see churches who do not see their uniqueness and their togetherness as mutually exclusive ideals. The Church is bigger than any congregation and praise God we are a Body whose head is Christ and a Christ not limited by our brokenness! Two stories to illustrate my heart.
As coordinator for the Global Leadership Summit in San Antonio I met with over 80 churches around the city. One week I met with pastors from a charismatic black church, a small Presbyterian church, an Anglican church and a Bible Church. The pastors didn’t know each other let alone talk to each other, but they were in the same quadrant of the city. The irony: they were all preaching on the same passage that weekend. All claimed it was something they felt led to preach on because of the “unique challenges” of their congregation. So these silo’d ministers were actually participating in something that was regional without even knowing it – the Spirit of God is not limited by our perspectives!
In 2008 I helped launch the Global Leadership Summit in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I met with churches around the city leading up to the event. I was blown away by the picture of how God uses THE Church. I met Pastor Juan of a small church of 150 people who had a God-sized vision of planting churches in the city dump where over 1,200 kids were homeless, orphaned and living off of refuse. Juan’s eyes would light up at the vision and then dim a little as he confessed, “I don’t know how my little church will ever be able to accomplish the vision, but it’s one God gave me and I can’t let it go.” Indeed, the statistics involved would suggest it was a lost cause. Until you meet Pastor Daniel, Pastor Moises, and a handful of other pastors of small churches with inadequate resources but adequate faith to also feel called to the exact same place and people. The thing was none of them knew about each other. They saw the math as “150 of us vs thousands of them, our few hundred dollars vs the tens of thousands of need” but what I saw was God moving the pieces in place to actually accomplish what all of them saw as impossible. What if that supernatural vision God has burdened YOU with is not limited to you? What if God intends for the entire Body of Christ to mobilize around His mission?
My heart would be to see in San Antonio and in any other region followers of Jesus operate in brotherly love to one another, to be aware of one another’s needs, to be humble enough to submit to one another’s strengths, to be generous enough to help regardless of who gets the publicity, to be anxious about not reaching the thousands in their zip code who don’t know Jesus more than losing a dozen people from their attendance, to see parachurch groups compliment without replicating local congregations while partnering in targeted ways, to see leaders own their quadrant of the city together and to become such a force for the advancement of the Jesus Administration that it gloriously subverts all other political or socio-economic factors. My heart breaks where congregations have mistaken the preservation of their tradition, methods and demographics for mission, spiritual vitality and Gospel. I’d love to see established churches who are asset rich but perhaps leadership and energy poor partner with church plants for a net sum gain. More than anything, I want to see communities that arealready identified by their affiliation with Jesus become truly centered on Jesus and catalyzing the people they serve to be radically Jesus shaped and fueled!
3) You are always recommending different books to me, what 1 book (other than the Bible) would you recommend to my readers that has most shaped your ministry/career and why?
That’s a hard question. I really want to pull a presidential debate tactic and tell you 10. I’m going with Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson. It’s a relatively small book and has a very un-sexy cover. It’s Petersons confessional challenge to pastors to not go the way of Jonah and run from God’s calling. He uses language masterfully to call out “ecclesiastical pornography” where pastors allow fantasies of having “that church, that staff, that facility, those people, that climate” while failing to love the bride God has given. He confesses his own bouts with failure rooted in his flesh-born sense of needing to be what he’s not at the expense of what he must be – of letting burnout by trying to lead and manage an organization keep him from preaching the Gospel and ministering to people (he ultimately divested his authority and role based upon abilities to other people). He challenged pastors to “enter into where the risen Christ has already gone before you” as a mindset of talking to people as a participant in what God was already doing instead of trying to BE the source of revelation or miraculous transformation. On and on Peterson just stuck his finger in my chest and called out truth in such a way that was beautiful, painful, inspiring, challenging and freeing. I’ve given away dozens of copies. Within a week of starting it I typically get a text message that goes, “Mike, UTUP is wrecking me. I have to rethink everything.”