Missional Startups: Default State Is Failure

'SUCCESSFULLFAILURE (opening of Dutch Identity at de Paviljoens in Almere)' photo (c) 2010, Paul Keller - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Chris Dixon, founder of Hunch and SiteAdvisor, writes,

If you are starting a company and wondering why nothing good seems to happen unless you force it to happen, that’s because the world wants to stay the way it is. Customers, partners, and most of all incumbents don’t want to think hard, try new things, or change in any way. The world is lazy and just wants to keep doing what it’s doing. …

First-time entrepreneurs often fail to realize that when you build something new, no one will care. People won’t use your product, won’t tell people about it, and almost certainly won’t pay for it. (There are exceptions — but these are as rare as winning the lottery.) This doesn’t mean you’ll fail. It means you need to be smarter and harder working, and surround yourself with extraordinary people.

The default state of the world is to stay the way it is, which means the default state of a startup is failure.

What do you think? Is approaching a missional community like a tech startup helpful? Or not?

  • http://workingonmyrewrite.blogspot.com/ bob c

    The bias in most startups – tech & faith – is spend 10 times as much time on developing content than developing audience. This is why the power of missional – for both tech & faith – can be so transformational. Rather reimagine preaching or teaching or worship, follow the creative Spirit within the indigenous community. Fewer books & talks, more hanging out and listening.

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      Great advice, Bob! Thanks for commenting.

  • Jan

    Amen to Bob.
    It has to be what the community really wants, needs, craves. And it takes a long time to listen without trying to twist what we hear and observe into what we want to hear and observe.

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      Thanks for that comment, Jan!

  • Jeff Straka

    Jesus’ “missional start-up” was a failure by most standards. He preached to the crowds, but most did not understand (or accept) his message of kenosis. Likewise, most of his own small circle failed to understand what his path truly was about (though Mary Magdalene seemed to) . They all wanted to grab onto Jesus or a plan or an institution to save them instead of doing the hard work of letting go of attachments (one gets a little better picture of this Path of Kenosis by reading the Gospel of Thomas). How Jesus’ Path will be lived out in “missional communities” is a big question mark: like the disciples, most will not want to let go of their ego/possessions.

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      Thanks for that comment, Jeff, especially the last sentence. So true. That’s a huge challenge to all of us.

  • http://workingonmyrewrite.blogspot.com/ bob c

    Faith communities too often yearn for a model that is Steve Jobs-ian – one manic genius. Most startups that survive are a function of a team, a collaboration rather than a sage on the stage.

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      Another good point, Bob. Well said.

  • Brian

    As a Christian employed by a biotech startup, I can’t help but notice that we are placing the emphasis on us, rather than God. I completely agree that listening is key, but we need to listen to God and the community and then, humbly move down the path. Felt needs are real, however, real needs are often hiding behind felt needs. The place of common ground is the need for early “wins”. Both business and missional communities need early successes that encourage those engaged to continue down the path.

    • http://www.knightopia.com/blog Steve Knight

      Amen, Brian, I’m always on the lookout for those stories of “early successes” that we can learn from! Listening to the Holy Spirit about where God is moving is essential.


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