The Millennial Entrepreneurial Spirit: Move Fast, Break Things

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It would be worth your time to check out this testimony from Evan Baehr, Able Cofounder, to the House Budget Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives for the hearing on “Restoring the Trust for Young Americans.” Wednesday, September 9, 2015. Just a quick clip:

“The good news is that this spirit is alive among my generation. According to the Reason-Rupe Millennial Survey, 55% of millennials want to start a 1 business… and not merely for financial gain, but also to improve the world around them.” — Evan Baehr

You can download the PDF here.

Why You Should Become a Regular

Hey Tim, haven’t seen you in forever!” I had finally done it. I was a regular once again. It wasn’t an accident at all. I had stumbled across a number of articles online that encouraged the practice of becoming a regular when you move to a new town, and I loved the idea of getting to know my local baristas.

There are plenty of articles out there that will argue for the social and financial benefits of becoming a “regular” at a restaurant, a coffee shop, or a bar — better seating, off-the-menu options, free food or drinks, and impressing friends and clients when everyone knows your name.

I realized more recently, however, that not only do the best entrepreneurs and businessmen frequent the same locations time and time again, but I think the best gospel entrepreneurs are frequenters of the same locations. Some of the reasons are very similar to those of the ordinary man or woman who wants to get to know the staff — but it’s a lot more than getting free coffee.

1. Becoming a regular gives you opportunity meet your community

When you become a regular at any given place, there are bound to be other regulars there. More often than not, those people represent a part of your community. I remember in particular sitting in a coffee shop with a friend (he was the regular) and seeing a large group of middle aged men and women discussing neighborhood politics. Before long a conversation had been struck and we found out that the group was the neighborhood council — and all people incredibly influential in the community.

2. Becoming a regular gives you the opportunity to build relationships

For me, I love surrounding myself with all kinds of different people from the community whether they’re artists, lawyers, politicians, salesmen, or any other random jobs. I’ve had incredibly interesting conversations and have been able to ask some really great questions that have challenged and grown me in ways I would have never expected.

3. Becoming a regular gives you the chance to give back to your community

Becoming a regular requires a relatively small financial investment, but it gives you the opportunity to give the money you earn to a local place. There are plenty of reasons to do this (you can read elsewhere about that), but it doesn’t hurt at all to give back to your community through small financial investments like a meal or a cup of coffee. It feels small, but I think it’s a huge thing contributing to your community in a way that you don’t when you visit the “chain” stores.

4. Becoming a regular gives you the chance to further the message of the gospel

This is by far the most important for Christians. It doesn’t always mean the explicit verbal proclamation of the gospel every time you’re in your local spot. In fact, don’t be that regular. Instead, you have the opportunity to have conversations where the gospel is naturally brought up. I’ve quickly realized that I may be the only Christian that many around me have ever met or even know. You can have conversations where you show how the gospel influences the decisions you make. Becoming a regular puts you in an incredible place to have conversations with your community you would never have had before. Don’t waste them. Be intentional.


Catch Someone Doing Something Right

I was recently listening to a group of young leaders talk about their organization. I was almost brought to tears listening to them talk about some of their experiences and what they would change as they thought about becoming leaders.

“I actually thought everyone hated me until I was approached about being promoted,” said one leader. “It was really crazy.”

He wasn’t the only one.

“Actually I was the same way — I never really knew if I was doing something good or bad,” she said. Every single person in the group shared the same thing — although they had great experiences with the organization, few leaders had approached them and said “good job.” Some had never heard how they were performing.

Help people reach their full potential. Catch them doing something right.” Ken Blanchard

It reminded me of the classic Ken Blanchard book The One Minute Manager, which I highly recommend. In the book he tells the story of a young “manager” who visits the organization that’s run by the “One Minute Manager.” One of the mottos in the organization is simple: “Help people reach their full potential. Catch them doing something right.”

In most organizations you’ll find managers or leaders trying to catch people doing something wrong. That certainly has to happen, but what a sad way to lead people. The best organizations and the best leaders have set clear goals and directives for their people and are watching them closely — not to micromanage them or to wait until they make a mistake, but to catch them doing something right. They watch their people closely so that they can be there to celebrate and encourage them when they do something right.

And when they catch someone doing something right, they’re direct and they’re specific. Here’s what Ken Blanchard lays out as rules:

  1. Tell people right from the start that you are going to let them know how they are doing
  2. Praise people immediately
  3. Tell people what they did — be specific
  4. Tell people about how good you feel about what they did right, and how it helps the organization and the other people that work there
  5. Stop for a moment to let them “feel” how good you feel
  6. Encourage them to do more of the same

I couldn’t help but be struck by how many people at even a great organization don’t hear specifically how they’re doing a great job. I’ll be working to catch someone doing something right.

Manliness in Marriage: The How-to Guide

No one will mistake me for the classic manly man — I currently have no beard, I’ve never really hunted or killed anything (on purpose at least), and I’m only a fan in theory of camping.

When I was a single guy, I knew that one day I’d need some “manly” skills — and not necessarily the gun-toting, camo-wearing kind. More like the “I-just-need-this-in-life” kind.

It started with a group of young guys I went to college with. We identified a man we respected and asked him to “teach us his ways.” We all realized that there were so many basic masculine skills we were missing from our “toolbox.”

Then and there we started our weekly gathering called the “Band of Brothers.” Over the course of a few months, we learned how to be men. Here’s what we learned and how you can recreate the same thing (including but not limited to how to roof a house, fire a gun, sharpen a knife, change a tire, change the oil, dress like a man, cook meat, and use tools).

Little did I know how formative this time in my life would be.

The Syllabus 

Before we began the process, a syllabus was created by our fearless leader to guide us. It opened with this course description:

“It has been rightly said that higher education grooms the mind, but neglects the body.  It could be added that the social construct of men is designed to be developed outside of the classroom by accomplishing difficult tasks amidst hard work.  Many times this takes the form of sports.  However, we need to equip men in their masculinity who will in turn lead other men and develop a culture of expressed masculinity.  This is an essential component of theological education and equipping for ministry – regardless of what that ministry might look like.”

The syllabus continued and emphasized the danger in having only mental knowledge with no knowledge of several basic masculine skills:

“Many men leave college uniquely equipped to handle and apply the specific knowledge needing in their respective fields.  However, the student’s ability to impact culture can sometimes be undermined by a lack of knowledge about more masculine areas of interest.  In their churches and workplaces they will gain credibility, broaden their impact, and increase their leadership profile if they properly learn several basic masculine skills.”

The syllabus also included a brief schedule, some recommended reading, and contact information.

What We Learned 

Every week for a semester we would gather together to learn a new skill, often times being taught by a subject-matter expert — a police officer, a Navy SEAL, or a school president for example. These lessons included (but we not limited to):

  1. Roofing a house
  2. Firing, disassembling, and cleaning guns
  3. Building fires without matches
  4. Learning the basic components of an engine
  5. Changing tires, oil, and spark plugs in a car
  6. Learning and using basic tools
  7. Sharpening and using knives
  8. Backing up a trailer
  9. Driving a tractor
  10. Stringing a barbed wire fence
  11. Dressing for corporate functions (a.k.a, “dressing to kill”)
  12. Administering battlefield first aid
  13. Camping without a tent

On some occasions, one of those in the group would be tasked with researching and teaching the next week. It gave us an opportunity to both learn something new and to learn how to teach and lead other men.In each and every category we learned as much as possible and did as much hands-on training and learning that time would allow. On some occasions, one of those in the group would be tasked with researching and teaching the next week. It gave us an opportunity to both learn something new and to learn how to teach and lead other men.

Perhaps most exciting and helpful was how close the group grew together over the course of those weeks and months we worked side-by-side. It’s not every day that you see young men growing deep relationships with one another, but this group did that. We were able to take what we learned and apply it, but more than that we had deep, gospel-centered relationships that still continue to this day.


This is by no means an exhaustive description of how to do this. We met once a week. You could gather a group of young guys together once a month to learn a new skill. The bottom line is this: I think this type of “class” is needed. I can’t emphasize enough how formative and helpful this was to me and the other men who took time each Tuesday to learn a new skill.

In summary, here’s what you need to do:

  • Ensure the group is committed — the key to this group is establishing a core of men who are motivated and willing to “sit at the feet” of someone older and wiser than them
  • Identify a man who “knows” it all and ask him to teach you or a group of men and sit at his feet
  • Put together a plan (syllabus if you need to) and write the plan down
  • Meet no matter what
  • Use subject matter experts where you’re lacking

Looking forward to reading your comments and answering any questions you may have.

Thank you
I would be remiss if I didn’t specifically thank John Powell, the man who I and many other young men have to thank for his input into our lives. Today I realize what an incredible sacrifice is was to spend time with a group of raw young men who knew so little. We are so thankful — you’ll probably never know the full extent of your influence, but God did great things and is continuing to do great things.

Latest Article: No Little Cross

My latest article is on The Veritas Network this morning.

My eyes were burning as the salty sweat dripped off my forehead. I took a bite of my chewy energy bar, then crumpled and stuffed the aluminum packaging deep into my backpack. I rummaged around for my water bottle, my arm brushing against the harsh canvas. Finally my fingers touched the warm plastic. I jerked it free and brought it to my mouth.

I took a deep, warm gulp. It eased my throat that was burning from the pungent smells wafting all around me.

Dusty fields randomly spattered with green plants surrounded the brown and broken dirt road I walked on. I stepped off into a ditch to allow a camel-drawn cart full of colorfully clothed men and women pass.

My feet were starting to ache. It had a been a long morning already. The hotel shower had been cold and my breakfast had been a few handfuls of cheap, dry cereal I had bought at a cluttered bazaar the evening before.

A friend and I had met and greeted our translator early in the humid morning, crammed ourselves into a smelly green and yellow auto rickshaw, then pattered off to the bus stop. Once we arrived, the three of us climbed into a dilapidated old bus full of staring people and took off. I wondered why they stared.

We quickly realized why. It was like driving in a war zone. I still have no idea how people could sleep on a bus that creaked, groaned, and roared louder with every kilometer we traveled. Every time we hit a pothole, the sound was deafening.

But we made it. Finally.

We were now walking about 10 kilometers to a remote village in Northern India, a village where I would start to fully realize something that would radically change my life forever.

Read the rest on the Veritas Network.

All Together Now: A Reformed Baptist and Pentecostal Anglican Talk Church Unity

by Tim Sweetman & David Ketter

Note from Tim: Dear readers and friends. Do not be alarmed. I hope, in the following few hundred words, to maintain my standing as completely orthodox, as thoroughly baptist, and totally biblical. My dear friend David Ketter and I began a lively conversation that sparked this collaboration effort, and I am pleased with the result. It is not something radically new. It’s not even something I would call our best work. But I think it’s something we needed to say, together. And so we offer our small voices into the larger conversation of unity – a unity we hope is not founded upon a disdain for differences or good theology, but a deep love for one another rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So what’s one thing Michael Vick and some Christians have in common?

Hopefully, it isn’t illegal activities and abusive forms of entertainment. But in some ways, dogfighting is what many churches are training and egging their members into. Because as much as we all claim to believe in one united, invisible Church, we lay claim much more vigorously to the title “Holder of the Most Pure Truth™” for our own church tradition. We try to convert Wesleyans into Calvinists. We’ll fight to convince those who baptize infants into doing believers baptism exclusively. We never fight so hard, or get attacked so viciously, as when we Christians start talking about our distinctives in the Church. It’s our “small differences” that inspire the raging cage-matches between Christians all over the internet, around Christian colleges and seminaries, and within Christian families. And what we have learned is…we really shouldn’t have our dogs in these fights.

There’s a lot of burned of people out there. I (Tim) don’t mean they’re physically distorted. It’s their hearts. They’re bruised and ripped apart. I was graciously spared this burning, but recently I’ve stepped outside and have seen these people cowering in the dark corners, weeping as they attempt to nurse their wounds. There is not much to say to them as they glare with beady black eyes at my clean clothes and untouched heart. These are those who have been attacked by the dogs. Those who spit out the tainted and poisonous forms of Christianity rearing their ugly heads in our society. and sadly, some of our churches. You know the type: the vitriolic and angry. The hateful and hurtful. The ones who take the injured and instead of offering grace, condemn them to die.

Even so, we believe Christianity is entering an exciting time. A quick glance around us and we can find many major Christian denominations and organizations rallying around the central and ancient tenets of our faith. We can sit across the table from our Presbyterian brother and rejoice with him about the success of his ministry. We’re moving away from nastiness and arrogance that we’ve noticed.

It also means we hate a few things. We hate the narcissism of small differences. It is a bitter irony: those we are closest with we beat up the most. Brothers tend to battle most intensely (just ask our brothers). Thankfully, we continue to be friends. But those around us, if we had said some things we regretted in front of them, might miss that fact. It may be that we have had some dogfights when we just needed to have dinner.
Neither we nor our churches have a monopoly on biblical Truth. But fortunately for us, we have an amazing promise from Jesus.

In one of his last words of encouragement at the Last Supper, Jesus says to the disciples (and to us): “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). That promise was made to Jesus’ people gathered together. It’s a grand promise. It means we can have a certainty that God reveals Truth to the whole Church. The Truth in its fullness isn’t simply a system of theology, but the Person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The fullness of Christ is revealed in the world in the totality of the Church in all places and at all times. By extension, the fullness of Christ can’t be contained in our

Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican, Pentecostal niches, among others. If we want the fullness of Christ, we need the whole Church.

So what do we do? Find a Least-Common-Denominator statement of faith? Have a Christianity that’s skin and bones, with no substance,, because we’ve kept it to what we all agree on? By no means. There’s a reason the early Church passed on the creeds. Professing the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds is not about having a least-common-denominator Christianity. It’s “the faith once for all delivered to the saints.”

It’s the proclamation of the whole counsel of God in summary. When we profess the Creed together, we aren’t saying “Well, at least we agree on a few important things.” Instead, we show that we have a rule of faith by which we believe and stand and that rule of faith is built on the Scriptures and confirmed by the Spirit. What we affirm in the creed is the Faith. Everything else is our traditions’ interpretation of it. Our denominations together with all our differences keep us balanced and in check.

It means that we are ready to unite with my brothers and sisters in Christ because of the ancient gospel of Christ as we fight against moral relativism, idolatry, politicization of Christianity, and other attacks on the Church. More than ever, we need the Church to unite together to stand strong in an increasingly secularized culture that is pressuring us to cave to cultural norms.

Sisters, brothers, fathers, and mothers in the faith: we’re inseparable. All who have been confronted by the crucified and risen Lord Jesus,, repenting of their sins have been marked and sealed by the Holy Spirit. That Spirit gives us the common cry “Abba, Father!” We share in one baptism. We share in one faith, delivered to us by the Lord Jesus. We share in one communion feast, gratefully remembering and participating in the death of our Lord until He comes back. We lift up the Name of Jesus as one body for a broken world that desperately needs His visible presence. So, let’s put a leash on the dog and instead release the freedom revealed in Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and return soon. It’s time for some dinner.

Latest Article: Cigarette Smoke Evangelism

My latest article is now featured at The Veritas Network:

“You are either a missionary or an imposter” – Charles Spurgeon

I most distinctly remember the smell of cigarettes.

I smelled it on the older man I met in the nursing home. A whiff from the neighbor lady who yelled a lot. That section of the restaurant we avoided. And John-John.

I met John-John the day our moving truck pulled up to our tiny mustard yellow house on the dead-end road a few hundred yards from Chesapeake Bay. You could always smell the brackish water full of blue crabs, just waiting to be drenched in some Old Bay seasoning. In the distance, the ghosts of the eastern shore rose slightly above the waterline.

It was another sticky summer day. But our new window air conditioner made my nose tingle when I pressed my face up against the vents. Life was good.

Word had spread rapidly among the local collection of children that a new family was unloading their earthly belongings. The little girls with blonde pigtails from next door ran over to see the new family with three brown-headed boys. A metal gate conveniently connected our back yards. The two boys with jet-black hair across the street grabbed their yo-yos, jumped on their new bikes and pulled up to our white picket fence and stared awkwardly, waiting for an invitation to test out our massive back yard, at least for six-year-old eyes.

Somehow John-John made his way to our house that day too.

I’ll never forget him.

He snorted in some snot, and told me his dad sold candy and ice cream, if I ever wanted some.

John-John smelled like cigarettes.

Read the rest here.

New Article: Faithful to the End

My latest article from Boundless is now online:

Sitting across the table from my 96-year-old great-grandmother is always a joy. It doesn’t take long to realize she was once a fiery redhead, even beneath the faded beauty.

She smiles wide when I tell her that I’ve decided to be a pastor. I smile back.

See, my great-grandma grew up in a small town in Illinois, went to Bible school and married a pastor. She and my great-grandfather served in churches from Mississippi to Maryland. Her stories range from the hilarious to the somber and depressing.

I took a sip of my tea as she told me another funny story with that twinkle in her eye.

When she finished her story, I couldn’t help but ask her about the hard times. Her face darkened as the months and years of difficulty and sorrow flashed through her mind. Their house had burned after a church service. I could imagine my great-grandmother being dragged away from the wreckage as she watched through tears all that she owned burn to the ground.

“But you know what, Tim? It couldn’t have been better for us,” she told me. “We kept serving, and that tragedy brought us closer to the community. We ended up in an even better house.”

Hardly anyone knows my great-grandmother. She does not command attention when she enters a room. She is frail and forgetful. But I wouldn’t dare for a moment say that this woman was not used by the Lord in incredible ways.

She stands as a spiritual giant in my mind, despite her lacking résumé and speaking schedule.

The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:27 that “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before him.”

Read the rest here.

Latest Article: Dear Jason

My latest article is up at the Veritas Network, a fantastic resource that I’m humbled to have written for:

Dear Jason…

March 26, 2012— I was walking by the bridge the other night. Actually, I got engaged there just a few months ago. My fiancée sat on the same bench and looked out over the dark river and the city beyond – and I couldn’t help but think about you Jason and that terrible night.

For me, it was dark and a perfect night for a walk. I guess you and your fiancée and friend though the same. It’s what 20 year olds do. That train bridge would have given you a spectacular and stunning view of the city, for sure. Little did you know that this evening stroll would change my life.

I’ll be honest Jason, I haven’t quite been the same person since that night. When I saw Ginny running on the bridge, I didn’t know what I was seeing. I’d never seen a human being on a massive train bridge. The dam below was empty that night, so it was quieter than usual – but when I heard her weeping, I knew something was wrong.

Read the rest here.

Latest Article: Living With Teenagers

My latest article is in Lifeway’s Living With Teenagers Magazine (the Using Purpose to Motivate Your Teens article):

Living with Teenagers is a monthly magazine written by parents for parents and is devoted to helping them develop a growing relationship with their teens that guides them toward responsible Christian adulthood. Each issue focuses on answers to real-life questions from a Christian perspective and strives to offer parents the kind of solid information and practical advice that encourages and equips them to fulfill their biblical role as the primary spiritual developers of their children.


  • Information on youth trends
  • Parenting issues including single parent concerns and blended family challenges
  • Responses from experts to questions from readers
  • Health and wellness column that focuses on ways parents can keep their families fit
  • You can buy it here.