Posted on May 25, 2009

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This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series All I need to know about poly community organizing...

Before I go further, I’d like to give a bit of an overview of the two organizations that I am using as examples for this series: the Fortune 500 company and the Evangelical/Charismatic church


The Fortune 500 Company

In the late 1800’s, the American economic system was in a state of unease. The boom of the industrial revolution drew people away from the farmlands and to the city. Unemployment was high in urban areas – anywhere from 20 to 25 percent. Meanwhile, those that were employed faced long hours with little rest and low pay. Those that continued to stay on the farms also endured financial hardships as the price of farm goods dropped. The old paradigm of being able to tend to the land until your descendants could take care of you was fading away. The new paradigm – accumulating enough wealth in order to become financially independent – seemed like a far away dream.

In 1894, a young John Tappen saw an opportunity to help the middle class save towards their future needs. He developed the concept for a “face amount certificate”, a type of investment certificate that was purchased at a discount and was held until it reached a maturity value of $1,000. The certificate had a monthly payment plan which allowed everyday workers and professionals to have access to have access to a type of investment that was previously only accessible to the wealthy or institutional investors.

Tappen’s business, Investors Syndicate, later developed into Investors’ Diversified Services (IDS), which then became American Express Financial Advisors, and is now known as Ameriprise Financial.

Sources: Investing for Middle America: John Elliott Tappan and the Origins of American Express Financial Advisors, Ameriprise website, Wikipedia


The Evangelical Church

At the behest of a confidant and fellow evangelical Christian, Ted Haggard gave up his associate pastorship at the Bethany World Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to move to Colorado Springs, Colorado. There, in January of 1985, he started the New Life Church in his basement. During the 4 months that followed before the church transitioned to a more public location, 75 people were attending worship services, which was triple what they had in January.

During the time that followed, Haggard prayed for guidance on what to do and how to lead his church. He saw visions of something far greater than he anticipated: a stadium-like area where thousands upon thousands could praise God and worship, and a World Prayer Center where people could travel from around the world to pray for global evangelism.

In the years that followed, New Life Church continued to grow. The physical location of the church changed throughout the years to accommodate the needs of the members (strip mall office spaces). In the early 1990’s they transitioned to their current location – a campus with multiple sanctuaries, the largest able to seat 7,500 at a time. At the height of Haggard’s success, New Life Church had over 14,000 members.

The increased Christian presence extended beyond the church’s walls.  Through prayer and working towards unity with the other churches, regardless of denomination, Haggard pushed for political and cultural change in his area. He is among those that receive credit for establishing Colorado Springs as what some consider to be the “Wheaton of the West”

 Sources: Primary Purpose: Making It Hard for People to Go to Hell from Your City, Wikipedia


This series

This series is meant to be an opinion-neutral examination into both organizations in order to point out actions and attitudes that helped contribute to their success. It is not my intention to condone or condemn these organizations.  

In addition, I ask that you not take this examination as an insistence on “this is what you need to do”, but rather as ideas to consider.

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