• John Kim

Isaiah 44:22 “Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”

For the last few days I’ve been roaming around NFT LA, a conference full of thousands of crypto fanatics and creatives. Speakers included Andrew Yang, Steve Aoki, Macy Gray, Charlie Sheen, Mark Cuban, and a whole bunch of others. A friend of mine recently said to me that he’d been skeptical about crypto for a long time. “But now I’m convinced it’s here to stay. There are too many smart people spending too much time building too many cool products for this whole thing to go away.” I would tend to agree, and I think the NFT craze of last year helped propel crypto and blockchain technology to a much broader audience through pop culture.

More than once during the conference, I saw something that looked spiritual. One of the display booths said “PRAISE”, and I half expected to see a Hillsong NFT. Upon further inspection it had nothing to do with worship music at all. Another sign advertised “FAITH TRIBE”, which ended up being a very much secular (and decentralized) fashion line. Crypto is a movement that mimics a lot of spiritual overtones, so on one hand these headfakes are somewhat expected. But I know that some religious leaders might point out that crypto distracts people from what’s really important. I don’t entirely disagree, but the same could be said about lots of good things like food, or education, or even ministry itself.

While God can call us to seasons of fasting, I don’t think the distractive nature of crypto (or food, or any other good thing) requires us to disengage from these activities entirely. My personal belief is that God is already in crypto, just as he’s in great food and great art and the whole world besides. He’s already won the battle, so my role is just to come into alignment with what He’s ALREADY done. And for me, in this space, a big part of that is furthering the dialogue and helping more believers get involved in this space.

So I’ve been blessed to come and share about “God & Crypto” on April 16th at 10am Singapore time at Digital Mission Ventures. I’d like to thank SC Lim from DMV for organizing. I’ll also be joining two other panelists who are the real experts here. Jason Lee is the COO of the Algorand Foundation, and Broderick Elisha is the Founder of Mission Dao. Encourage all who are able to join us!

Lord, thank you for blessing us with this amazing world you have created. Sometimes it’s so good that we get distracted and forget where it came from. Sometimes we get so focused on the gift, we forget about the giver. But we thank you for redeeming us and every nook and cranny of this fallen world that we call home. In your son’s name, Amen.

  • John Kim

Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

One of my favorite classical pieces to play growing up was the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s 1st string quartet. Both Leo Tolstoy and Helen Keller are said to have been brought to tears when first hearing it. I had always found it incredibly powerful, but never cried over it… until the other day.

My wife @Elaine Kim helped to organize a benefit concert to support Ukrainian refugees at @Trehaus. We made a donation and brought our boys to watch the musicians play with great gusto and technical prowess. Many of them have family back in the Ukraine, and were clearly experiencing a deep range of emotions that they channeled into their performance. But then just before the encore, their ringleader came up and took things to a whole new level.

“We’d like to thank you so much for coming to support us today. It is a very difficult situation we are facing, and to know that you stand with us means so much. Until now you’ve heard us playing pieces written by Ukrainian composers, but for this last piece we want to play something written by a Russian composer. While war can often cause hate, we want to honor our enemy and we look forward to the day we can stand with them side by side in peace.”

Man I just lost it. As they got to playing I couldn’t help but think of what Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 5. Honoring your enemies is an impossible standard to live up to, but every now and then one can find incredible hope in seeing someone live out the call.

Lord, we thank you for inspiration. We ask for an end to the conflict and protection for all those affected. In Jesus’ most mighty name, Amen.

Matthew 25:25 “I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.”

One thing I’ve noticed about churches is that they tend to be somewhat risk averse when it comes to money. The thinking is generally that the job of a church is not to make money, it’s to spend it. So we collect tithes and offerings, we allocate that to ministries and missions that help get people closer to God. If there’s some surplus then so be it, but the surplus should be kept very safe.

At our church, where we have lots of people from the finance and tech industries, there is a huge risk appetite and ability to generate exponential returns within our congregation. But when it comes to the church coffers, no one wants to take the risk to put the millions in our treasury to work in higher-yielding assets.

If things go great, no one will notice. But even if we invest in 10 assets that do well as a portfolio, at least one of them will lose money and someone could come demanding an explanation for that piece. It’s all downside and no upside.

It somewhat reminds me of the parable of the talents. When a master returns and sees two servants who multiplied his initial gift, he praised them. “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” But then the third replied that he had hid the talent in the ground, “because you are a hard man reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.” Jesus calls him wicked and slothful, then takes his talent away and gives it to the others.

I was thinking of a way to alleviate this internal tension. How can we be good stewards while at the same time protecting church leadership? Someone gave me this idea that if a congregant gave their offering to the church in a risky asset like crypto, with an accompanying letter that their preference was to keep it there until the church needed it for ministry, the problem would go away. A small gift might also turn into enough to buy a building over 5 or 10 years, but no one would have cause for concern because the gift was given with these wishes.

I then asked my friend Jason from the Algorand Foundation how he’d construct a portfolio like this. “I basically don’t want to touch it for 10 years, because I don’t want to put the burden of rebalancing on the church staff who are already so swamped. What do you think?” He replied

“This space is changing so fast. I don’t think anyone knows what a good portfolio will be in one year, let alone in ten years! But what I’d do is set up a trust where your church is the sole beneficiary and you know any money will end up in their hands. They can draw down on it at any point, but in the meantime you can have a few trustees who check in once every few months to rebalance and make sure the portfolio’s in line with current trends.”

Then he lit up and added, “actually, if you set that up I’d love to give to my church through a vehicle like that. In fact, there are lots of believers who have made a lot of money on crypto, but they can’t sell and give cash for one reason or another. Sometimes it would trigger cap gains tax, sometimes their overly conservative, anti-crypto banks might give them a hard time. But if they could donate crypto directly to ministries there are billions of dollars that would open up to support people getting closer to Jesus.”

I’ve written before about some ideas for a Christian DAO, and this conversation got me excited about another idea. Secular DAOs like the LAO have set up decentralized venture capital funds to leverage the power of the community in earning outsized returns. What if a DAO could do that for churches? There could be so much more resourcing for the kingdom.

Stay tuned… :)

Lord, thank you for opportunities to demonstrate faith. Thank you for talents and minas that you bestow upon us to multiply for the kingdom. We have no idea what is in store, but we know it’s good. Because you are good. In Jesus’ name, Amen.