On Going Fourth

So it’s like 3 FLIPPIN’ A.M. and I cant sleep and my mind is churning over and I am solving the worlds problems when I should be snoozing. Again.

I have recently requested some funds for a number of social enterprises. What was keeping me up was the measurement criteria for a global mission fund for missional entrepreneurs. How can we raise the standards? How can we measure a truly holistic ministry enterprise? How can they in turn spin off other enterprises? The thoughts in my sleepless, delirious, half-awake brain were like . .

Fourth Sector. We all need to go fourth.

Government institutions [first sector] need to go fourth.

Private businesses [second sector] need to go fourth.

Ministries and charities [third sector] need to go fourth.

And social entrepreneurs need to figure out what the fourth sector looks like in the 21st century and how it’s success might be measured.

But how to measure it? Ahhhhh. It might be a little corny and its certainly not there yet, but the word FOURTH popped up 4 times [4×4]

1. Fourth Sector. It is not just a non-profit ministry [third sector] that wants to start a business enterprise and it is not just a private business [second sector] that wants to get charitable but rather it is a hybrid, something unique, a fourth sector enterprise that must therefore be driven by a unique set of values and be judged by unique measurement criteria.

2. Sent Fo[u]rth: It is missional. It is connected with the “Go Forth” of the Great Commission of Jesus, in which it finds its mandate as well as its direction – that of continually extending itself outwards into new territories where it seeks to give itself away to others, to impact and transform,

3. Fourth Bottom Line. Outcomes are measured by four bottom lines – it will be (1) socially transformative, (2) environmentally responsible, (3) economically self-sustainable and (4) spiritually renewed.

4. Fourth Year Turnaround. By the fourth year, the enterprise will have moved from receiving funds to becoming financially sustainable (in the 2nd or 3rd year) and by the fourth year it should be assisting new enterprises to launch, thus reaching maturity and reproducing itself.

4×4 . . . just a another stupid cheesy thought half-dreamed and half-baked. But sometimes thoughts like this tighten up later on. Might as well blog it for a laugh, ay?

Related: Mission and the Fourth Sector, by Andrew Jones, a missions article published on CMS site [and totally ignored by everybody!!!] regarding Henry Venn, co-operatives and fourth sector enterprises.

More thoughts and resources on fourth sector and emerging mission.

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Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • brad says:

    Oooh, Pop Jones! Actually not so half-baked as you may think. Like it as a discussion starter, cool that it has a built-in time frame (though sustainability in four might be as crazy as what silly denominations try to get church plants to do – sustain in 2 or 3 cuz we’re cutting your funding then!] and think of all the fun we can with the 4 x 4 elements. For instance:
    Sent Fo[u]rth has you in the middle …
    What you can do without sleep, I can do without coffee! Speaking of which (coffee, not sleep), time for The Daily Commute to create some coffee …
    Cheers, bro!

  • andrew says:

    thanks brad
    U make a difference!
    or as Andy McDowell says, U are worth it!

  • Marc says:

    I like the 4 in no 3, Andrew. Good thinking direction.

  • This is excellent. This is the direction we want The Dusty Cover to go in. Your articulation helps flesh out a little of what we could not. Thanks!

  • Andy says:

    I drive a 4×4 – does that count?
    Seriously – I read the article on CMS – intriguing stuff. Where did you ever find those sources?

  • andrew says:

    on my bookshelf. i collect old mission books. ok . .. i’m a GEEK!

  • rudy says:

    I would re-order bottom lines, and add one:
    1. spiritually renewed
    2. economically self-sustainable
    3. socially transformative “for the least of these”
    4. CIVICALLY involved (in the civic, public square)
    5. environmentally responsible
    Since we are laying awake with visions of re-hashed Venn diagrams in our heads…

  • I’m hoping i don’t have to do 4 coats of paint in the kitchen, but i’m ragging the cabinets- and after that the deep house cleaning to get things ready- so i’ll be doing a moving meditation on your wee hour posting. Some of the best ideas are in the twilight – keep a journal by your bed for quickie notes and dream revelations-
    Ok, back to painting and cleaning! – with the added tossing ponder!

  • Oh- the number 4 in Hebrew =
    DALETH (DOOR): The archetype of physical existence. The conceptual planned prototype of physical existence. “I am the door. whoever enters through me will be saved.”
    Thought you might find that interesting.!!!
    shalom K8

  • becky says:

    If this is you when you’re half baked, then you must be truly mind blowing when fully cooked.

  • andrew says:

    rudy – good suggestion on being involved with civic
    but the quadruple bottom line (is already a known entity in this conversation – the typical 3 measurable outcomes in social accounting – financial, social and environmental – and we are adding a fourth, that of the spiritual.
    i probably wouldnt add a fifth bottom line at this point.

  • Emily says:

    I like this idea. Not sure if I really know what it all means, but I like it.

  • Marty Richards says:

    am involved in a social enterprise experiment here in Brisbane – that you could describe as fourth sector. Its taken us five years to build a cluster of 3 small social enterprises.
    my background is in faith based community development and I’m keen to connect with others that are actively involved in cooperative enterprise / social enterprise etc.

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