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Pray To Earn?

Isaiah 43:19 “Behold I am doing a new thing.”


In the 1800’s, 90% of people lived on farms. Convincing folks back then that most people today would work for this thing called a corporation, would have proved nearly impossible. Today about 1% of people live on farms, and almost everyone works for some sort of company. It’s hard for us to imagine anything else, but the future will inevitably look quite different from the world we live in today.


DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) and crypto networks have unlocked totally new models for how people can earn a living partaking in activities that are already core to their daily lives. While social networks like Facebook extract value from users who generate content, Bitclout actually pays its users to create (create to earn). While most video games monetize users with in-app purchases, whole villages stayed afloat in the midst of covid playing Axie Infinity (play to earn). And while Udemy and Skillshare charge subscriptions for users to learn, Earn.com (now Coinbase Earn) actually pays its users to get an education (learn to earn).


In the future, I believe the overwhelming majority of people won’t be working for companies, but for DAOs and crypto networks. From “farm to earn” and then “work to earn”, we’re heading into an “x to earn” world where x is an activity that you’re already doing. These crypto networks can reward people for said activities because each additional user to a social network, multi-player game, or two sided learning platform adds value to that platform (this is called a network effect). Corporations don’t reward users for coming on board and adding this value. DAOs and crypto networks do.


I’ve been thinking about what this might mean for ministry. What if instead of paying a seminary to learn how to minister to folks, one could get paid by a DAO to learn how to minister to folks? What if instead of paying to go on a missions trip, a crypto network subsidized all costs and then some to bless the lost? What if the next model for ministry wasn’t play to earn, but pray to earn?


Pray To Earn?


I felt really uncomfortable about this when the idea first came to me. Jesus overturned the money changers’ tables and said “Is it not written, ‘my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of robbers.’” The Catholic Church got in a pile of trouble for selling prayers to forgive sins (indulgences). Prayer should be about God, not about money!


But I felt a prompting to continue pursuing. I still haven’t figured it all out, but I felt God remind me that the most basic way to make disciples is to fulfil people’s needs. Missionaries provide medical supplies to sick people. They feed hungry people. They show God’s love first, and then if the opportunity presents itself they share the good news. And they learned that from Jesus himself. He healed the sick, fed to hungry, and in so doing many came to faith.


So if you went to a villager and said “hey download this app, someone’s going to say a blessing for you and your family, then you’ll get some tokens in your wallet that will help feed your family,” is that not in line with the heart of God? I’m not an expert on missions, but I have some portfolio companies operating in these parts of the world, and I feel it’s a pretty compelling value proposition that many would take up.


I pitched the idea to Elaine the other day and she asked some hard questions (as a good wife does!)


“How are you going to find the people to pray? Why would they come on the platform?”


“Well, I get a kick out of praying for strangers and I’d love to join something like this. I wouldn’t do it for money, but I know some amazing intercessors who absolutely would love to do it full time if they were freed from the constraints of earning a living.”


“But ministering should be a calling, not something so transactional.”


“Well pastors get paid so there’s a transaction. But I’m sure most every pastor has been called by God. I don’t think the presence of a transaction precludes the presence of God’s calling.”


“There are just so many ways this could go wrong. People could abuse the platform to earn money and mess things up spiritually. How do you make sure the intercessors are vetted?”


I didn’t really have an answer for this one so I mumbled something and walked away. But in my prayer time I felt God remind me that people had the same questions about Airbnb. “People are going to let complete strangers stay in their home for money? There are so many ways this could go wrong. How do you vet hosts and guests? They could be rapists… or worse!”


Well Airbnb figured it out, and I’m not sure I can figure it out. But if God is in this then he sure as heck can figure it out.


Lord, I can’t wait to see what you have in store. I have no idea if “pray to earn” is part of it, but I believe you’re using technology to catalyze a revival like the world has never known. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know it’s going to be good, because you are good. I submit my plans to yours, and thank you for your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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