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Nonprofits Partnering With the Community Interview with Bishop Ebony Kirkland
Despite her success in the business arena, Dr. Ebony Kirkland felt drawn into the Ministry. She often cited a need to serve God in a more profound way, sharing her talents and expertise in expanding and working on behalf of “The Kingdom”. In 2003, she became founder and senior pastor of the Living God Ministries Worldwide. In the second year of her ministry she expanded an international ministry which she was able to adopt and minister to churches in Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Egypt and Africa. Her innate bilingual language ability affords her to reach out and minister to Spanish communities spreading the gospel. She also uses her business skills to motivate and inspire individuals to maximize their God given talent and to work on building God’s Kingdom on Earth. Dr. Kirkland most recently has collaborated with other ministers of faith to form the Universal Clergy Coalition (UNCC) in which she serves as the current Vice President. The mission of UNCC is to collaborate and to bring forth peace and understanding among the various interfaith denominations. In addition, Bishop Kirkland has formed a Worldwide Association of Small Churches. The main goal of the association is to provide mentorship and training for small church pastors. In addition Dr. Kirkland has formed the Christian Chamber of Commerce, the Health Chamber of Commerce and Youth Chamber of Commerce. She was consecrated into the office of the Bishop by the College of Bishop of the Council of International Charismatic Bishops (CICB) to serve as the Presiding Bishop of the Church of the Living God Ministries Worldwide in November of 2009.
Read the Interview
Hugh Ballou: Hey, it’s Hugh Ballou again on this edition of The Nonprofit Exchange. As usual, we have an amazing guest today. We have Bishop Ebony Kirkland. I think I met her at a conference five, six years ago. We sat down and had a talk. We decided, Wow, we have some things in common. We’re passionate, we’re leaders, we’re making a difference in the world. Actually, she helped me produce one of our SynerVision Leadership Empowerment Symposiums. You gave me a new upgrade in the name in New York City. I took you to meet Frances Hesselbein. We had a good time there. Bishop Kirkland, welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. Tell us more about what you’re doing today.
Bishop Ebony Kirkland: Thank you, Hugh. It’s such a pleasure to be on your show. You do great work. I’ve always been impressed with your knowledge and your knowledge about nonprofits and about organizations and how organizations come together and how organizations grow and how to facilitate the role as a leader in organizations. Thank you so much for that.
A little bit about myself. I came from a business background before I went into nonprofits. I started my own business many years ago. Many decades ago, let’s say it that way. It was a marketing research business. At some point, I decided that I would turn it over to my daughter who runs it now. It’s been a blessing to be able to have been in the market research industry, where I learned so much about statistics because that is what market research deals with.
Let me fast forward to my experience now as a nonprofit entrepreneur, I would say. I started a church, a small church, about ten, twelve years ago. The Lord called me into global church planting. I began planting churches all over Africa, all over Central America and South America. From that, it grew even further. The Lord planted in my spirit that perhaps with all my training background, because I do come from a marketing background. I have an advanced degree from Harvard. I come from a training marketing background. I began to do nonprofit school for chaplains. I train chaplains now to become a chaplain. How to work in hospitals and nursing homes.
In addition to that, I started a ministry training institute. The institute deals with training pastors who are already pastors to become more entrepreneurial rather than just pastoring. Pastoring is extremely important. I’m not taking that away. I love pastoring. But we also understand that in today’s market, pastoring alone is not sufficient to be able to do the work of the Lord. Even Paul said that. He said, “You must give to the work of the Lord.” People today are not so much into giving more, if you can imagine. You have to find entrepreneurial ways of meeting that need, of working within the work of the Lord, and yet, at the same time, being able to be financed. We train pastors to become entrepreneurs at the same time as they run their churches. We give them a way out in terms of financial outs. A lot of small church pastors work. They’re working and trying to pastor at the same time because they are trying to fill all of these hats. We have found that if they have a small business, it’s easier for them.
So that’s what I do in a nutshell.
Hugh: Wow. Makes my head spin. I want to introduce you to the co-host, Russell David Dennis, who is out there in mile-high Colorado.
Russell Dennis: Greetings. Nice to meet you.
Bishop Kirkland: The pleasure is mine.
Russell: All of the things you’re teaching people to do are very much needed. I sit on the board of my church, and we’ve got some things that are taking place. We’re dealing with issues around real estate, finances, and other things. That is the background for some of us, but not for our pastor. These are vital skills. Leading a community to be able to explain how important all of these things are and where the money that is being tied, how that is being put to use, and really how it all fits in with the vision.
Bishop Kirkland: Amen. One of the things that we need to know as churches and community organizations is it is no longer people coming into church. You have to take the church to the community. One of the things that we do is we take the church to the community, especially with the younger people today. You can’t expect them to come into church the way we used to. The young people want something out of church. What do you have to teach me? What can I learn when I come to that church? I don’t want to just learn the word of God, as important as that is. There is a new paradigm. The old paradigm is you come in and pray, and God is going to bless you. The new paradigm today is that you pray, but you get up off your knees, and you work. Amen. You have to find some skills in which you fit on.
One of the things we do is train young people in different capacities. Whatever skills the young people want to develop is what we help them to develop. We’ve become a training institution. I would like to think that our church is more of a training institution, one-stop shopping, so that people can learn skills, develop job skills, learn also financial skills. We’re lacking in that regard. I was saying to someone the other day we teach all these things at school, but we don’t teach them finances. We don’t teach them budgeting, something as simple as budgeting. You go off to college, and the first thing they give you is a credit card. Wow, I have $2,000. Let me spend it. Not to know that later on you have a bill to go with that $2,000, with a student loan on top of that. Now you’re in debt. How do I come out of debt? You have to teach children that. You have to teach people that. Those are the things we have to learn.
So we teach them how to learn about finances and how to buy a house, how to purchase. You don’t have to be an apartment. You can buy an apartment. How to purchase an apartment. We teach that. We also teach certain basic human skills that we haven’t been taught. Some people haven’t been taught how to look when they go for a job. Do you dress with jeans on, or do you put on a shirt and tie or a dress? You look decent so that the employer doesn’t think you’re out of it. Those are some of the skills we teach.
Hugh: You highlighted a really important area. Our mainline churches and others are suffering today because they are still doing things like we used to do. The churches don’t have a corner on the market. A lot of small nonprofits are still trying to operate in an old paradigm. What you open the door to is how do we create a paradigm?
One of the important lessons we teach at SynerVision is the first and foremost thing that a leader is is a person of influence. Let’s go back to your starting this worldwide association of small churches. You had a vision. You are the influencer. You have something really significant. How many churches belong to this association?
Bishop Kirkland: About 3,500 globally.
Hugh: Correct. You do video conferences and help them in a lot of different ways. You’re the person who has inspired people to say, “Oh, never thought about that. Maybe the church ought to be doing this.” We want to isolate things to an hour on Sunday and forget about the rest of the week. What you’re doing is putting our faith to work. As you started this, this vision came to you. How did you articulate it? What is that vision, and how did you articulate it and get that momentum started at the beginning?
Bishop Kirkland: I think the vision came out of I was educated to begin with. I was always educated. I was a teacher beforehand. Then I was a professor at the university. I came from an educational standpoint.
In addition to that, the vision came out of when I was reading the Bible. The Bible says, “Write a vision, and make it plain. It may perish, or it may come to pass.” So I began to write down when I first thought of the church what exactly I did not like about what was going on in church business. My vision came out of watching how the church was operating and understanding that old paradigm was not working now. We needed a new paradigm.
The old paradigm of being born again, let’s take that topic for a minute. We used to have people come into the church. We’d put our hands on them, lay on them, and you give them a prayer. You tell them to pray this way. They repeat after you. You said they were born again. The new paradigm today is not just laying hands on them and telling them they are born again and repeating a prayer. The new paradigm today is actually leading them to Jesus. Let them find their God. Let them find God for themselves. When you find God for yourself, you won’t fall off the track because you have Him for yourself. That’s not true of anyone else.
Why did I say that? Because when I looked around the church and saw these small churches, because that is what my view is, when I looked at them and saw the pastors for the most part were working, working full-time, and the church was not being attended to, or they were not giving the flock the attention or the information. We’re an in information age. We need to be able to pass on information. Information was not being passed on. My vision was to take small churches, educate small churches to become more business-oriented, if you will. Business-oriented with the word of God. Someone might be listening and thinking I’m talking all about business and church. Yeah, because the church is a business. As a matter of fact, Jesus tells us to toil until I return. Which means what? Do business until I return. We are in business. We are in the greatest business of all. The greatest business of all is soul winning. Amen. That is the greatest business.
The vision came out of how the small churches were faltering, being disenfranchised, not feeling a part of anything, feeling as though they were less than they actually were. The church was to bring them up, train them up, almost like you do, Hugh. Train them up to feel worthy, to know that opening their church means perhaps being able to motivate someone in a different direction, being able to touch someone’s life. They might not be able to come to your church. They can touch your lives. That is what the vision comes out of: touching leaders’ lives, and leaders will touch others.
Hugh: This is Bishop Ebony Kirkland. We have been friends for five or six years. We are speaking to leaders all over. Church leaders, you just said, have to realize they are running a business. It’s a tax-exempt business. Other nonprofits need to learn the same thing.
The common theme here is that we need to rethink. Church needs to be reinvented, which you’re championing. We need to rethink how we’re going to approach things, how we’re going to serve the community, how we’re going to empower and engage people who have a passion. One of the things I’ve noticed, and maybe Russell has noticed, Bishop Kirkland has a lot of passion for what she does. I imagine being in worship with her is a very moving experience.
Russell, I’m going to give you a shot. What are you hearing? What would you like to ask her to talk about next?
Russell: First, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to join us. This is very important work. It’s in line with what we’re doing here at SynerVision. What I find you get a leader. It’s tough for pastors. Our pastor was a new pastor. She was thrown into a situation by the way things unfolded that would scare the average senior minister with 25-30 years. She has just come through with flying colors. We have a support system, but a lot of leaders get isolated. Oftentimes you will find a leader, whether it’s in a company or a church, that has a lot of difficulty asking for help. You’ve probably come across a few ministers or pastors that are in this position. How do you have that conversation with somebody who is clearly overwhelmed, but may be feeling it because the expectation of them as a leader is to be able to take care of everything? As you’re well aware, you can be a marvelous spiritual leader, but if you don’t really have a business background, those responsibilities are all put on that senior minister. How do you have that conversation with somebody? A lot of times, they are under a lot of pressure. They feel they have to do this. They can’t hand it off to anybody else because they’re responsible. For lack of a better way to phrase it, how do you talk them down?
Bishop Kirkland: I find that it’s almost like being an alcoholic. If you don’t seek help, you’re not admitting that you’re an alcoholic. If you don’t admit it, when you go to the 12-step program, the first step is you have to admit it. You cannot get help if you don’t admit it.
I don’t talk people down, and I don’t talk them into this. I allow them to see the works. Jesus said it best, “The greatest works you shall do.” When you see the greater works, a lot of pastors are threatened. Don’t take my flock. Don’t take this from me. I have developed these people and this thing. This church has gone on for 20-25 years, doing the same thing and expecting different results. We don’t go in and say, “You’re doing it wrong. We are going to change this for you.” That’s not the way we handle it. We allow them to come and see what we’re doing and experience what we’re doing and see the transformation that goes on.
As they see the transformation, I like to call it greater work than transformation, transfiguration. It’s the transfiguration that Jesus did on the mountain. He was transfigured in front of their faces. When He was transfigured in front of their faces, they were like, Wow. What happened? When they see the transfiguration that goes on, most of them want some of that.
I get a lot of that out of Africa. They are so alert and wanting. I’m going to Africa in June. The last time I was in Africa, I did a program with over 10,000 pastors that were there that wanted to receive. They want to get the business end. They want to understand this so they can do greater work for God.
In addition to that, my nonprofit, which is the Worldwide Association of Small Churches, have broken off into seven branches, so we now have seven branches of small churches, divisions, if you will. We have a division of health and human services. We have a division of Worldwide Association of Small Businesses. You know about that one. We also have a division of clergy counseling. We have a division that deals with purchasing real estate. We have seven different areas we have branched off in to help, not just pastors, but nonprofits, to help them see that the vision can be a lot larger because it started out being small churches. Now we are into nonprofit helping, small business helping. The vision is expansive.
Just to answer your question, I don’t beat anybody. I don’t tell them to do it. I just let them see. Look and see. The Lord said, “Watch and pray. We look, and we see.”
Russell: It’s 2020. This is the year of clarity and expansion of business. Just in the first two weeks of the year, some incredible things have happened for me. I love what you were talking about initially when I popped in. How do we view ourselves? I think that when people are in that place of distress, I know that for me, when I find myself with some struggles, it’s hard to be creative. The thinking can start to shrink when we are stuck in a set of conditions. When there are so many things, spirit has all of these things outside our radar screen.
For example, I have this laptop I am sitting in front of. It’s a 13” laptop, and I am looking in the camera. That would be my radar screen. But the truth is that the radar screen is the size of Bronco Stadium downtown. There is all that room. But what I can see is right in front of me. What I was trying to get at is how do you get people beyond that? As ministers, we have to go beyond our own understanding. That is what happens with church leaders. It’s remembering because you’re teaching your flock, we don’t lean on our own understanding. There is greater power at work here. The proper question would have been how do you tap into that?
Bishop Kirkland: There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” The student has to be ready. There has to be a readiness on the part of that leader, be it church leader, be it nonprofit leader, be it a small business leader. I have my own small business. I ran my small business from the kitchen table. I realized one day that in order to make my business grow, I had to move out of the kitchen table into a standard office. From that standard office, I moved into about five different offices in the country. I was in LA, Chicago, Miami, Washington D.C, and Atlanta. We moved offices to all those areas.
What it is you have to do as a leader, as a small business leader, as a nonprofit small business leader, because you are a business as a nonprofit, you have to think out of the box. When you think out of the cage, as I like to call it, because a lot of us are caged into our own situations, like as you said, a lot of us are caged into that screen. When I am caged into a screen, I can’t think out of that box. I can’t think out of that cage. But if you allow yourself from time to time to move back and assess the situation, look and analyze what you’re dealing with, and where you want to go, you have a vision. What is your vision? Where do I want to go? How do I want to look? What does that look like for me? This is a good time of the year to be asking those kinds of questions.
For me, I have my church. Not thinking anymore about 2020. 2020 is over. Amen. We have come through 2020. We’re in Chronos time, so we are in 2020. But the heavens looks at Kairos time, which is out already. 2020 is over. I look more toward 2025. Amen. In 2025, what do I want to look like? How do I want my business to look in 2025?
One of the things I was asking my leaders as I train them, just tell me what do you think you look like to people? What does your brand look like to people? Every brand has a word that they look like. When you think of Facebook, you think of social media. You have one word that describes that brand. When people think of you, of your nonprofit, of your church, of your small business, what do they think? What do you mean to them? Are you reliable? Is that the word for you? Are you wishy-washy? Does it mean you can get business done and that you have integrity? Or does it mean you are hiding behind something? What does that one word define for you? If you start thinking about one word to define our brand, just like Volvo or Facebook does, or even Apple, when you think of Apple, you think of outside of the box or on the island. If we get off the island, everything is Apple in our house. They got us on an island.
My point is what do people, when they think about your brand, associate you with? If you start thinking in terms of that, you move out of the box a little bit. You have to have a vision for how you want people to see you.
Hugh: The brand has to align with the organization we’re leading, or else we’ll be in conflict there. Bishop, when you first started sharing your vision, what kinds of responses did you get? There is all kinds of people, like the sword in the sea. Some are on rocky soil. What kind of responses did you get? How were those encouraging or helpful for you?
Bishop Kirkland: First of all, when I first started sowing the seed, as you could imagine, with a seed this large, people didn’t think I could do it. Being a woman, so we can go in that direction as well, people were like, Oh my God, this woman is doing this. Where did she get it from? This and that about God. Hugh, I have learned that everything we do is about God. He created everything. Everything, your business, is about God. Training people, nonprofits to be more effective, be more productive, that’s about God. Amen. For a long time, they couldn’t understand what I was doing. What is she saying? She’s going to take our people. They are now beginning to understand. The Worldwide is a brand now. People are saying, “We want to go there to learn. What can you teach me?” They are pushing me, even in Africa, to become a full-time certified college. Amen. This should bring us to a new level.
Hugh: Oh my word. I constantly find leaders that are challenged in leadership because, like Russell was talking about earlier, they get stuck in thinking that they are the leader and are supposed to know the answer. We teach people that leaders don’t have all the right answers, but leaders have good questions. They surround themselves with helpful people. However, I do find pastors, and I ask, “What is the vision for the church?” They want to opt out, which is wrong, to say they are making disciples. No, that is the great commission. That is not a choice. That is a Biblical mandate. You make disciples. What is your mission? What are you going to do with those disciples? That is your mission. What do you want to work on? Then you want to opt out and say, “Let’s get a committee together and work out what our vision is.” Well, I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where God gave a vision to a committee. Part of being a leader is stepping out and being bold about something. I do find that when I share a vision, and people say, “Nah, you can’t do that,” I find that inspirational. Watch me. People get shut down because their family and friends say, “Who do you think you are?” You started something which nobody had done before. How did you get some energy around you to create the pathway where it is now?
Bishop Kirkland: Even when I started my own small business, no one else was doing it at the time. I started a market research business. It was ethnic, multi-cultural market research. Interviewing blacks and Hispanics. No one was doing it at the time. Nobody was thinking about interviewing blacks and Hispanics. They thought I was crazy. “Who wants to know about them? Who cares about them?” I thought outside of the box. I said, This is a population that has not been reached. I believe that they need to be heard. I believe they need to be reached. I began the business, and I grew it to a $10-million business. Thinking outside the box, not caring who said what and who said no.
I believe that if you’re a leader, a leader learns to stand alone. A leader doesn’t need a crowd to stand with them. If you really believe what you’re doing is going to impact nations, like I do. That is what the Bible tells me. Give you nations as an inheritance. The world as our possession. When you begin to think like that like a leader, I don’t care what people say. Do they like me? Do they not like me? That’s not so important to me. You know what’s more important to me? Getting through what God has put in my heart that I know will influence nations, societies, people. It’s transforming people. I tell people all the time, “I am not building a church. I am building the kingdom of God.” There’s a difference.
If you’re a leader, if you’re building a church, you want everyone to come to your building. Come to my building because it’s great. People who come to the building to get God are into religion. People who come to get God come to get Christ. Amen. In them. Amen. For me, I do have a lot of opposition. I had men in opposition who opposed me as a female bishop. I had women oppose me because they were jealous. They couldn’t believe I was stepping out to do what I did. I had family oppose me because they couldn’t believe I was giving up my business to my daughter to turn around and do this. What’s wrong with you? How could you do this? You’re giving up a business to talk about how God called you. Did He really call you? He did. He said, “Who should I send?” I said, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” That’s the call I answered. When you answer that call, even with all the challenges, you stay focused on that call, on that vision, on what God has called you to do. You cannot go wrong. They can’t beat you.
Hugh: A quote I use often is, “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
Bishop Kirkland: Absolutely.
Hugh: Russell, I’m hearing a lot of common themes for things we wish leaders knew. What stands out for you
Russell: What stands out, I’m just thinking a lot about my journey with my own center. Our center is called the New Dawn Center. It’s owned by New Beginnings. We are a new congregation. But the mindset, the energy that is flowing through the building is how can we make ourselves a resource for the Aurora community? This is what you’re talking about. You’re helping churches, and SynerVision is helping nonprofits shift into that mode of thinking. How can we be a resource for the community? How can we break out of that box? We’re providing value here. It’s not just some one-and-done. How do we want to be seen? You know what? Some people may think it’s a dirty word, but there is marketing to be done. Nobody knows that you’re there. How good the work is that you’re doing. You have empty seats. While we’re small, and I track the attendance, I’m the head usher as well, we do a count. I count how many people come in through the door. We’re averaging probably about three to four new people, never been to New Dawn, weekly. We’re working on leveraging that. We’re working on bringing these folks back. We’re working around the new space. The space we have now doesn’t work. We don’t have room to get more people into that sanctuary.
Bishop Kirkland: That’s a good problem.
Russell: We rely on our physical senses a lot. So when people say, “It’s a visual,” it’s pretty packed in here. That’s good. You look around, and you can look in the room and see when it’s full. There is not a lot of room to expand. It’s about expanding our thinking, expanding the energy. When we have more space for that energy to flow out, then you can get there.
Talk a little bit about some of the programs. I never knew about this association. I think this is something that Reverend and some of our other members would look at and think it’s exciting. How do we do the marketing? We don’t have in-house people. All of the people on our team are phenomenal volunteers. How can we plug in to get systems, to get training? Talk about the ways that those benefits are relayed, and how small churches could go about joining that organization.
Bishop Kirkland: Surely. Let me mention one thing that you said. The word “marketing” you use. I want to pick up on that for a minute. Most of us in religious organizations and nonprofits believe we don’t have to market ourselves. We don’t need to market ourselves. We are doing this for God. Let me bring you back to the scriptures. Jesus said, “Go out and spread the gospel.” That is marketing. God was sending them forth to spread the word. Go out and spread the gospel. We are to market ourselves. We don’t like to think of vision and mission and branding. We don’t want to be branded because we’re doing the work of God. God forbid I should be branded. But Jesus Himself believed in branding themselves. He branded Himself to the point where they wanted to kill Him. When He went around and said, “I and the Father are one,” He branded Himself. People didn’t get it. When He said, “When you see the Father, you see me. When you see me, you see the Father,” people thought He was sacrilegious.
That was branding. Branding is important to our brand. One of the things I want to say to small churches is we need to learn to brand ourselves. What do you want to be branded as? That question goes back to the question I ask. We are branded in this city, this country, and the world as a small organization that helps small churches grow.
May I say this also: We focus a lot on growth. There are three types of growth: a physical growth, a spiritual growth, and a financial growth. Which growth do you need? The physical, the spiritual, or the financial. The physical is people coming into the church. You could have a church crowded with people, yet you are still not getting enough tithes to pay your bills. I speak to some churches. They say, “We have 200 people in here. We’re struggling to pay the bills because people are not tithing.” Financially, you need to grow. You need to figure out how to teach people that tithes is not a burden, that giving is a requirement, that giving is something I must do as a Christian. I have an interfaith council for sustainable growth. The Muslims give, and the Jews give. Giving is part of our existence. When you teach that, you teach financial growth.
Then there is the spiritual growth. When you’re teaching spiritual growth, you have to teach your leaders they must learn to love people’s souls. We love them physically. Love their souls. As they come in, love the fact. Sit and listen. That is one of the courses we teach leaders. How to listen. Quite often, pastors don’t know how to listen. We want everyone to listen to us. Listen to me. Preach. I hear you. Amen. Hallelujah. We want that. When someone comes, we don’t want to listen. We teach leaders how to listen.
Hugh: That’s the #1 skill. I am a musician. We have two ears and one mouth.
Russell: No accident in design there.
Bishop Kirkland: We also teach leaders how to know themselves first. You should know thyself. Too often, we want to pray for everybody. Some areas you pray for people, you need prayer yourself. Figure out what you need prayer for before you can pray for somebody else. You can be healed, so it doesn’t hurt you when you are praying for somebody else. We need to uncover the cover. We need to uncover the mask. A lot of us wear masks. We’re out here so caged in. God forbid you open that cage. I said this morning that some of us are in brass cages. You can’t even open the cage because it’s so tight. That is when you get leaders who don’t want you to take things from them. They don’t want to delegate. We teach them that. You don’t have to do everything. Somebody else is just as capable as you are. If it doesn’t get done totally correctly, it’s okay. We’ll try it again. Don’t get mad because you didn’t do it right.
Hugh: Preach it. Go for it. She’s preaching our song. It’s about having something to say, being clear on the vision, so that when you open your mouth, there is something that is clear and relevant, which is something I had to learn. I grew up as a Scottish Presbyterian. Somebody makes noise in church; you write their name down. The old joke what happens when you cross a Jehovah’s Witness with a Presbyterian? You get someone who knocks on the door and has nothing to say.
Bishop Kirkland: That’s funny.
Hugh: Part of it is when does a leader say and when do they stop saying? Leadership is really founded in relationship. Ministry is founded in relationship. Communication is founded in relationship. That is the basis of how these things work. You’re giving out good stuff. We want to make sure we want to tie up some of the key themes. You have so much to share, so much to offer. Do you publish a magazine for your leaders?
Bishop Kirkland: Yes, we do. The name of the magazine is Talk to Us because we are listening.
Hugh: We should share articles in each other’s magazines.
Bishop Kirkland: Yes, we should. Hugh, we did share one about a year ago that you did. We’d like to share some others. Send us some so that we can share.
May I say also that this period that we’re living in, this dispensation we’re living in is a dispensation of partnership. We must partner with one another in order. That’s another thing that nonprofits and small churches don’t do. Churches in general don’t do. We don’t partner. We’re too afraid to partner.
Let’s talk about grant writing for a moment. Churches love to talk about grants. Free money. Where is it? How do I get it? The thing about it is if you don’t have the right ingredients, you won’t get that grant. If you came together with me or two or three other churches, and we put all of our different ingredients in that pie, we will get that grant. Partnership is extremely important so we can share in the proceeds of that grant. Partnership is one of the things that we teach also. It’s a mindset. Most people don’t have that mindset of partnering one another. Hugh, you and I are partnering together. We did that thing in New York together. We need to do more of that. Partnership is extremely important in getting the job done, in moving your organization forward, and getting organizations to work together. The Bible puts it this way: How good and how perfect it is for reverends to dwell together in unity, in partnership.
Hugh: That’s a message we need in today’s world. There is really important work to do, probably more important than ever before in history. It does require that we come together. As a culture, church leaders tend to shun business models. We want them to give money, but we think there is something wrong with a for-profit model when actually it’s really good partnership. For instance, you have a marketing agency. What a great partnership for churches to learn yes, we need to tell people the story of what we’re doing. We need to tell them why we exist. We need to let them know why they should be a part of this organization. I have actually been in your office. It’s in the Bronx, isn’t it? It’s a nice, big office. That’s a pretty cool place.
Talk a little bit more about the partnering of churches and nonprofits with businesses. What are some opportunities that come to your mind that leaders should explore?
Bishop Kirkland: Some of the partnering opportunities that are available. For instance, we are in the process of partnering with another organization for grants for the census. We are partnering for that so we can get a big share of that. When I think of partnership, I don’t only think of church. I think of nonprofits partnering with one another. I think of businesses partnering with nonprofits. There are some grants that require a small business to partner with a nonprofit. I don’t think they realize that, that you can partner together. We do that often. We partner a lot with larger companies. We share in the partnership in that regard. There is many possibilities out there of being partners.
What I want to get through to the audience is that partnership is a way of life today. Partnership has got to be a way of breaking into that market, not having to hit your head against the wall so many times. Sometimes you try it on your own, and you get frustrated because you can’t get it done. How can I do this? When you have two heads come together, that old saying of two heads are better together than they are apart, you are more likely to succeed. Partnership is extremely important. Don’t be afraid of partnership. Too often, small organizations and churches, nonprofits, become afraid of partnership.
Another reason they’re afraid is they are always thinking you are going to steal their vision. No one can steal your vision. What is for you is for you. They may try to be copycats, but there can be another Hugh. Hugh is Hugh.
Hugh: Russell, we have a few minutes. Do you want to weigh in here?
Russell: We all have these unique gifts. Yes, there is only one Hugh Ballou. He is my friend and a mentor and just a wonderful person to know. I’ve had some amazing things happen. I’ve stepped into a new role that puts me in a position really to bring more different people together. I’d love to have a conversation about that with each of you offline at some point in time. This being a resource and looking at ways you can be a resource is amazing. You can do that in different ways. My church works with community organizations.
From business standpoints to other types of ways, talk about some of the ways that you have helped churches to step into that brand, where they’re a community resource for things that are probably non-traditional when you start thinking about what a church does.
Bishop Kirkland: Some of the non-traditional areas we have helped churches with is for instance, we have helped them set up workshops for their youth in terms of growing to become trained in mechanics. Or set up a workshop for them to become an electrician, where they have the space, but they weren’t using it. So we started a workshop for them. Another place that we are working with different churches, some of the churches we found they have a lot of youth, but the youth don’t know what to do. They don’t want to go to college anymore. We are putting them in non-traditional careers, like an elevator repairman. An elevator repairman makes $100,000 a year. There is no shame in the game because they make a lot of money. And you need them. The elevator won’t work if you don’t fix it. Some of these kids are very technology. We are teaching them how to take those non-traditional careers that no one else is thinking about. Everyone is thinking about college. Not everyone is college-oriented. We help the kids set up workshops in those capacities.
We are also helping them set up workshops for bakeries. People come in and bake goods and sell them to the community. These are non-traditional ways of setting up businesses that people enjoy. These are talents they have. Work where your talent is. Don’t try to take someone else’s talent and run with it. It will never be the same. Take your talent. Develop your talent. Turn that into a business. That is what we are doing with churches.
Hugh: Wise words. You see why I like this woman, Russell? She’s just- every time I am with her, I get so excited about things.
Russell: You never told me about her. You’ve been keeping her to yourself.
Hugh: The word is out. Can we give out your email?
Bishop Kirkland: Sure.
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Bishop, I am going to ask you to leave us with a closing thought. Thank you for all of your wisdom that you shared today. What would you like to leave people with?
Bishop Kirkland: I would like to leave people with the thought that when you have a brand, when you have a company or a nonprofit or a church, you need to believe in yourself. Believe that God has given you that vision, and that vision shall come to pass. I’d like to leave them with that. God bless you.
Thank you for having me. I enjoyed the moments we spent together. Hugh, you are amazing. I am so excited you introduced me to your friend. You were keeping him a secret, too, Hugh. I love meeting like-minded people. We should be in like mind. If we are like-minded people, we can move the mountain. God bless you. Thank you so much. I enjoyed you both.
Russell: Thank you again. This is so wonderful. Everything is spiritual in nature. It goes into belief. It’s believing in yourselves. All of you folks are doing remarkable things. I have been privileged to meet people around the country who are doing remarkable things.