Title: “Evangelpreneur: How Biblical Free Enterprise Can Empower Your Faith, Family, and Freedom”
Author: Josh Tolley
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc., Dallas, Texas (2015)
Page count: 325 (including endnotes)
Josh Tolley’s new book “Evangelpreneur” makes some pretty bold claims – and some strong accusations – when it comes to Christians and how we earn and use our money.
After painting a bleak, but accurate picture, of debt in America – among Christians and non-Christians alike – he explains the root of the problem. And it isn’t money. The real problem is the economic paradigm of employment, which along with debt is nothing short of servitude and, in many cases, an example of being “unequally yoked” with unbelievers.
Offering plenty of figures and statistics, Tolley shows that employment will never keep up with inflation. He warns that “official” calculations of inflation only consider a few factors and that the true rate of inflation is upwards of 10 percent annually – and very few people in the workforce are getting 10-percent annual raises. Instead, we go into debt to buy homes and cars, digging ourselves deeper into a fiscal hole that is impossible to escape.
Tolley saves some of his most scathing criticisms, though, for the modern church, pointing out that the church is teaching the world’s self-defeating methods of money management: Work at least 40 hours a week and save what you can for retirement. This, he says, leaves believers bound in servitude – and broke by retirement age. And it leaves the church itself in debt and unable to fulfill the mission God has set out for it, and for us.
And now for the good news.
There is a way out of this brutal cycle: becoming an evangelpreneur, which Tolley defines as “someone who lives his or her life with the focus of spreading God’s kingdom and will through the empowerment He created in free enterprise.” The author boldly states that being an evangelpreneur is God’s purpose for believers. The author creates a new word – based on longstanding Biblical concepts – by combining ‘evangelist’ with ‘entrepreneur’ to build a model for Christian living in the world. By stepping out on our own and rejecting the world’s concept of work-as-servitude, he confidently predicts that Christian families will be restored according to God’s plan.
But Tolley doesn’t just say what we need to be; the majority of the book is his explanation of how to do it. To set the stage, we need to adopt a new mindset when it comes to money and wealth. Poverty, he reminds us, is a curse according to Deuteronomy 28:16-68. At the same time, we are not called to be greedy and selfish. Money is merely a tool that we can, and must, use for the glory of God.
When it comes to making money, many believers have been duped by the Devil’s lies, including: It takes a lot of money to make money, the risk is too big, and don’t mix beliefs with business. These and other evil untruths are each handled in separate chapters of the book.
When it comes to actually putting Tolley’s ideas into practice, the author gives many suggestions, tips, and specific examples of how to start small and work your way up. To keep readers engaged, each chapter concludes with an evangelpreneur action step designed to help us adopt and adjust to this new, Scripture-based mindset.
The idea of not working 40-hour weeks, which in most cases take us away from our families and still leave us bound by debt, may sound scary and even unrealistic, but Tolley defends his position with Scripture and real-life examples to show that this is indeed possible for any of us.
Overall, Evangelpreneur is about conviction and hope; conviction when it comes to accepting the reality of our current situation and hope that there is truly a way out. And the author, a speaker and radio talk-show host, is practicing what he preaches.
Above all, Tolley maintains a spiritual focus throughout the book, citing Scripture frequently to back up his arguments and reminding us that our “vertical alignment” – setting our priorities with God at the top – is key to being a successful entrepreneur. Ultimately, the goal is to fulfill God’s will in our lives and to live free of the slavery that working for others and getting into debt brings.
Families are often the first casualties in a life filled with overwork and debt. But Tolley reminds us that Scripture says “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children.” (Proverbs 13:22)
Using “Evangelpreneur” as a manual for rejecting the 40-hour work week and taking financial matters into our own hands, with God at the helm, offers the possibility of restoring our families and our churches back to what God has willed for them – and for us.
About Doug Buchanan: Doug is a pastor and newspaper copy editor in Potsdam, N.Y. He graduated from Wheaton College.