I never heard the following terms in a seminary classroom — performance transparency, donor-advised fund, fiduciary, asset allocation, values-based investing, evergreen model, duration bonds and freedom weighting.
To many people in Christian ministry, these terms are like speaking in tongues. In churches they may be a foreign language to the typical laypeople serving on finance committees.
But at the Redemptive Institutional Investing Retreat these words are assumed. The retreat is sponsored annually by Oak City Consulting of Wake Forest, North Carolina, and held at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina.
My wife and I attended this year as guests of the Baptist Foundation of South Carolina. They are one of a half-dozen state convention foundations who attend these annual retreats.
Nathan McCarthy, president of BFSC, told us in an orientation session that we were going to hear the heart of who Baptist foundations are and how their strategy for investing is not the same as the rest of the world.
Oak City Consulting has a faith-based focus. Leaders declare on the company’s website “that when invested with excellence, concentrated capital is one of the tools that God uses to bless the world He has created and repair the broken relationships that exist within it.”
Also present at the retreat were numerous for-profit organizations who invest money in Christian and other values-based organizations in the U.S. and throughout the world. They spoke with deep conviction about their ministry of impactful, compassionate investing.
Worship and investing
Worship was an important part of each session, led by a worship team from The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, and Dave Owen, senior associate pastor of Providence Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.
On the second evening we were treated to a surprise appearance by celebrities Shane and Shane to talk about compassionate investing through The Worship Initiative. They then led us in a mini concert.
We also learned about music royalty funds, which is a pathway to generating new resources for Christian ministry.
‘Order from Chaos’
The theme for this retreat was “Order from Chaos.” Last year was a tough investment year. Yet in the middle of it were values-based investments that empowered Christian ministries to make Kingdom progress.
Many speakers were positive about long-term investing even with the possible chaos in the short term. Strider Elass, an economist in the banking and investment world, advised staying the course.
We also learned how order replaces chaos when efficiencies are addressed, impact is measured, governance practices are elevated, future planning takes place and human capital is developed.
The future will always be chaordic, which means chaos and order happening simultaneously. We must continue to move forward with boldness to provide the resources needed for Kingdom ministry.
Compared to philanthropy
The comparison of compassionate or impact investing with philanthropy was clearly explained. Patrick Fisher, founder and managing partner of Creation Investments in Chicago, proclaimed that “investment capital doing God’s work can do more than philanthropy ever thought about doing.”
He said this when talking about the hundreds of millions of dollars his firm invests in mortgages for people in India who do not have access to traditional banking services, while at the same time making money for investors who provide the capital and are then able to increase their investment in God’s work.
Anthony Hoye, partner and head of private credit at the Copia Group in Chicago, shared that the Copia Group provides access to funds for the people and organizations for whom access to capital is broken. His perspective is that philanthropy meets a specific need at a specific time. Impact investing creates sustainable businesses that can focus on compassion for people.
Michael Tremain, managing partner for Sovereign’s Capital of Raleigh, North Carolina, talked about looking for companies who are putting their faith values into what they do. He prefers to invest with the Christian founders of companies who also screen for values compatible with Christian lifestyle convictions.
As McCarthy said, “because God owns it all, we need to think carefully about how we invest His money.”