SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. Bob Shank and Jim West, founders of The Barnabas Group, believe God wants more than just money from His followers. And their ministry, which the two Master's Program graduates founded in 2000, provides a way for its members to satisfy that mandate. Their goal is to honor God and expand His Kingdom by exclusively supporting other ministries.
Like Shank and West, members of the group all have a talent for business and a heart for God. At their quarterly meetings the entrepreneurs are presented with opportunities to come alongside other ministries and transform lives for Christ, both locally and around the globe.
"We're a community of men and women who come together to engage our lives in Christian ministry," West said. "Ministries come in looking for collaborative leaders to partner with them. The synergy that comes with those partnerships makes the contributions they make go off the charts in terms of value and leverage."
Constantino Salios, the ministry's national executive director, said the collaboration extends beyond funding.
"At the meetings, members are exposed to ministries of all different sizes, from community to global outreaches where we can connect with our heart and head and get involved beyond the financial perspective," he said.
"Barnabas members get to invest their time, skills and talents. We get to bring our whole life to the ministries and help them in ways that go far beyond financial resources. God wants more than just our checkbooks."
Salios, who enjoyed a successful 30-year career in the home improvement industry and sold his retail sales and merchandising company in 2005, speaks from experience.
"As business leaders we are outcome driven, results oriented," he said. "We're able to put that into the context of God's purposes and God's outcome and it is very exciting to be a part of that."
Salios has great dreams for each member of the group.
"I want to see them, through The Barnabas Group, draw closer to God as they use the gifts and talents He has given them," he said.
According to John Siefker, a retired health care executive, the idea is simple.
"We have members with incredible gifts," he said. "We try to match the two together and give the opportunity for God-directed connections."
"I've been blessed to have some success in business," Ryon Ellis, a Barnabas Group member said. "And I'd like to know that there's an opportunity to leverage my skills and talents. It's great to see different hearts resonate with different ministries and see the body of Christ moved to action."
At each meeting several ministries present their vision, needs, challenges and specifics on how Barnabas Group members can assist.
According to Brett Trowbridge, The Barnabas Group is a network that plugs together people with resources in the business world with people in the ministry world.
"The result is impact on the Kingdom," he said.
And he should know.
As CEO of the Free Wheelchair Mission, an Irvine ministry that provides wheelchairs to the impoverished disabled in developing nations, Trowbridge has seen it work firsthand. When the ministry came to The Barnabas Group with the idea of making wheelchairs out of lawn chairs, they had only distributed 100 chairs. Now, with the help of the Barnabas Group, they have distributed more than 315,000.
"Barnabas Group members have had a huge impact on this budding ministry from funding the first container of wheelchairs to marketing, strategic positioning, providing board members, donors, shipping and distribution," he said.
Walt Wilson, founder of Global Media Outreach, also credits much of his ministry's success to The Barnabas Group.
"Without the executives in The Barnabas Group we would not be where we are today," Wilson said. "They have brought to us financial advice and they have put together events for us. We have seen 1.1 million decisions for Christ so far this year."
Other ministries helped by the group include KidWorks, who received help with staff recruitment and advice on their social enterprise task force. Kingdom Assignments obtained two of their initial board members from the group and a business to serve as a pilot program for their ministry. Forest Home received computer equipment. Birth Choice Health Clinics received help writing a $12,500-grant proposal, which they received. And several ministries have been able to launch under the Barnabas Group's non-profit umbrella while waiting to secure their own 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.
Participation in the group doesn't come cheap. Each member contributes $2,500 annually. The first $1,500 goes toward the Barnabas Group ministry. The remaining $1,000 goes into the individual's giving fund, which can then be used to support group ministries.
Fortunately, pastors can join as an associate member for a reduced cost.
"One of the things that is a joy for me when I go to these meetings is almost every time I meet someone who tells me a story of how their involvement with TBG has really impacted their lives," Pastor Vic Gordon said. "I think The Barnabas Group is great for business leaders who want their lives to really count."
In addition to the quarterly meetings members are invited to serve on special teams that come together a few times each year for a several hours to brainstorm an issue or problem with a ministry. There are also occasional seminars for local ministries such as "How to Give a 30-Second Elevator Speech," and other helpful subjects.
Currently in several cities nationwide including Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Phoenix, and Silicon Valley, the group is aggressively working to establish new locations throughout the country.
Kit Del Sesto, one of the group's many women members is an enthusiastic supporter.
"We are able to join in with their dreams and what they're doing in ministry, come alongside of them and support and strengthen them," she said. "It has given me an outlet to reach places I never thought that I could."
For more information visit www.thebarnabasgroup.org.