It is remarkable how small random decisions you make can take you to the most unexpected places that define a lifetime vocation. Take, for example, saying yes, albeit reluctantly, to an invitation to a trip to an unfamiliar country in an unexplored continent. Who knew that even an unenthusiastic “yes” could forever change one’s life?
Today, let’s listen to the story of a life changed by saying yes to God. Doug Cobb, managing partner at the Finishing Fund, joins us to talk about the journeys he’s taken in his life - from finding great success setting up tech startup companies and selling them at gainful margins to leveraging business success to advance God’s work in the world. His most epiphanic journey, however, took him to Africa. Click now and listen to why this trip changed his understanding of himself and the world and defined the trajectory of his life.
Key Points From This Episode:
“Lives only make sense in retrospect”
“I'm really thankful for the times when I said yes to God and stepped out.”
“I have seen how God has over and over again, answered my prayers, provided what we've needed, introduced me to people, build relationships, have money show up that I hadn't even asked for.”
“It's not enough to just declare, “yes, this will work”. You have to take the leap.”
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Money, Possessions, and Eternity by Randy Alcorn
The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Douglas Cobb's 1-2-3 Handbook Release 2.3
And Then The End Will Come by Douglas Cobb
About Doug Cobb
Doug Cobb is the managing partner of the Finishing Fund, whose mission is to “make disciples of every nation”. He has been working with Finishing the Task and the Issachar Initiative for a decade. Doug and his wife, Gena, are members of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky where he teaches the Word by Word Sunday school class and serves as an elder.
ANNOUNCER: Imagine taking your generosity to the next level, impacting more lives, and leaving a godly legacy for generations to come. Get ideas and strategies to do just that when you listen to these personal stories from high-level Kingdom champions.
The Kingdom Investor Podcast showcases business leaders who have moved from success to significance, sharing how they use worldly wealth for Kingdom impact. Discover how they grew in generosity, impacted more lives, and built godly legacies. You'll find motivation, inspiration, and practical steps to grow as a Kingdom Investor.
Daniel White (DW): Welcome to The Kingdom Investor Podcast. This is your host, Daniel White. And today I get the honor of interviewing Doug Cobb. Doug Cobb is the managing partner at the Finishing Fund. Doug was a CEO of Inc 500 companies three times and also won the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year three times. So this will be a great conversation with him. He's gonna talk a little bit about his business success, and how he's leveraged that to advance God's kingdom. So Doug, would you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself where you're coming to us from?
Doug Cobb (DC): Well, Daniel, thank you for having me on the podcast, first. I live in Louisville, Kentucky. I've been married to Gena for 42 years, as of October 18. So just had our anniversary. I have three grown children, two boys and a girl and all are married and all have at least one kid. So we have four grandchildren, the most recent one born to my daughter and her husband on October the sixth. So he's brand new. But that was really fun. Because October the sixth of this year was my 65th birthday. So, best birthday present ever getting a grand grandson, granddaughter, either one would have been great, but so I'm really really thankful about that. And we've lived here in Louisville, most of our lives. We lived away early in our married lives in northeast in Indianapolis for a little while. But we've been back in Louisville for most of our lives to support we raised our family.
DW: So what are you up to right now what maybe a highlight from this week or cool project that you've been working on?
DC: I'm just past the Finishing Fund's annual partner retreat, where we try to bring our partners together to celebrate, anticipate, have fellowship together. We did that in Fort Worth, Texas, and it was great. We had a great time. And sort of decompressing from that those things are hard to put on a lot of details, you know, you got to track and but I think it was really good. And I'm preparing for a trip to India at the end of the month. The finishing fund has a number of projects underway in India. And so my partner are going to run over there and just basically spend three days in meeting after meeting with ministries, hearing what's going on and how it's happening and hearing new things they'd be interested in doing. So looking forward to that as well.
DW: That's incredible. I look forward to hearing more about the trip and everything. So before we get started, do you mind praying for us at this time?
DC: Yeah, be glad to follow thank you for this day you've given us to serve you. What a great privilege it is to serve the living God. And, Lord, we ask for your blessing on this conversation. We're about to have asked for your blessing on Daniel in his ministry, his podcast and Father, would you know, establish the work of our hands we pray. And Father pray that this might be useful and enjoyable for the people who get a chance to listen to it by your grace. And we ask these things in Jesus' name, amen. Amen.
DW: I would love to hear a little bit of backstory and some of your early business success if you don't mind sharing that.
DC: Sure. I grew up the son of an entrepreneur. My dad had a great job with a company here in Louisville and quit it to start his own first sales business kind of a, you know, a brokerage type business, and then do some other businesses over time. So a lot of entrepreneurs I think come from entrepreneurial families. They see the model, you know, and you know, they kind of fall in love with the freedom of it, and that's probably part of my story. You know, I happen I was born at a great time, you know, not only in 1957, not only kind of at the peak of America, which you know, is the freest safest, richest place that anybody's ever lived in the history of the world, you know, and so right at the peak of that, but also, fortunately, so that my adulthood happened right at the same time as the personal computer wave was beginning to hit.
I graduated from college in 1979. You know, the Apple 2 is, I think, '78 or '79, you know, the IBM PC is '81 or '82. And so, you know, was kind of, you know, came of age right into the, into that wave and got exposed to those computers, fell in love with that whole space, kind of like, you know, the classic story, there has to be a pony in here somewhere, started digging to find, you know, what the opportunity was. And that led to working for a time for a computer book publishing company in Indianapolis called Q Corporation, writing a book that helped a lot of people learn to use Lotus 123, and ultimately leaving there and starting a company called the cob group that published books and newsletters about desktop software.
So, you know, it wasn't hard to be successful in that space. The world, you know, that whole industry was exploding, there was so much growth, nobody knew how to use these tools. Our motto at the COP group was in, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, you know, we didn't have to know a lot. We just had to know more than, you know, everybody else. And that wasn't that hard and ended up you know, building a nice company around that and selling that in 1991 to the Ziff Corporation, Bill Ziff and his family, they were in the magazine, the computer magazine business. And, really, that kind of just set me off on a, you know, a vector of, you know, continual entrepreneurship, ended up in 1994. Starting a little venture capital boutique here in Louisville, called Chrysalis ventures with a childhood friend, David Jones, Jr. We invested in 10 or 12 companies while I was there, ended up running one of those companies did a little stint in civic entrepreneurship here running Great a Louisville Inc.
You know, after that, ran a company called Aprus for a number of years, and, you know, got to sit on boards and be investing an investor and some other so, you know, my, my whole career has kind of been in the startup and growth company space, starting things and grow into a certain size, and then selling them. There hasn't necessarily been a particular industry focus to that, you know. There have been a number of different things, but maybe if I have any skill in business, it's knowing how to start something and grow it to you know, maybe $50 million of revenue, and then, and then sell it to the guy who will take it from there. So yeah, but that's a quick summary of my career.
DW: Yeah, that's really helpful and gives us a good, good foundation to build off of. So, it sounds like there was, it was a lot of the right timing and taking the right opportunities, and what other factors maybe were involved in some of those successes early on.
DC: You know, as I said, that first business, we were in such an, I mean, the opportunities were just like laying on the ground to be picked up, you know, there was so much growth and so much opportunity. You know, I know entrepreneurs that have started businesses in, in difficult industries, and I admire that a lot. I think it's easier to do ant in a industry that's growing fast. You know, if you just keep up, you're gonna have a, you know, really successful business. And so, you know, that was that was very helpful, just the timing of that. You know, I don't know if this is a gift from God, or if it's just something about my, you know, my nature but I have had a pretty good ability to look at a business plan over time and have a sense about whether it would work. Not always, you know, some things that I thought would work didn't for various reasons, you know.
But you know, several times I've seen some so you know, this, this will work this, you know, if we can execute on this, this is something people will buy, this is something that could turn into something and, you know, I think that's a you know, if you're gonna have a skill, that's a pretty useful one. But then you gotta of course, be willing to embark you know, you it's not enough to just sort of declare, yes, this will work, you then have to take the leap. And, you know, that's something I've been been willing to do. My poor wife, you know, her her life has been, you know, me coming to her and say, Okay, I think this is what we're going to do next and, okay, if that's what you think. She's been very faithful to follow me in those things. But yeah, it's, you know, finding something new, a new opportunity, and then and then taking the leap.
DW: Where do you find significance in life, Doug?
DC: That's a great question. Recently, I had a chance to write a new bio, for, you know, a thing I was doing. And the guy said, do it a different way than you heard it before. And I, I wrote it this way. You know, for 40 years, through a career in startups and angel investing, God prepared Doug Cobb for the best job he's ever had, you know, being the managing partner of The Finishing Fund. And, you know, I really do feel that way about the way my life has unfolded. This job that I have now of leading The Finishing Fund, not something I would have ever imagined. You know, lives only makes sense in retrospect. You would never plan at least mine, you would never plan the way it's unfolded, it doesn't really make sense. It's not strategic in the sense of, you know, what objective I set out to do when I was in my 20s, or my 30s. You know, to accomplish this when I'm in my 60s, but, you know, that job is about accelerating the completion of the Great Commission, providing funds to ministries who will take the Gospel for the first time to a place where it's never, never been, and I don't mean, like only been a little bit I mean, like, never been, nobody's ever been there to tell those people about Jesus.
And so I find that incredibly fulfilling, strategic, important, you know, it's God's calling on my life to be able to do what I'm doing right now. So that's a great privilege. And, I get to see every day how God recycles things that I've learned in past life for this purpose. So, you know, something that I thought I was learning to do, I was mastering a skill for commercial purposes, you know, to run a business or to evaluate a business or make a buck, I now see how those were training for being able to do that now in, you know, this kingdom enterprise that I'm involved with. And that's pretty fun, too, when you see that your life has had coherence and, you know, direction to it, that God knew where I was going to end up, even if I didn't, and was making sure that I acquired the skills, you know, many of the skills that I would need along the way.
DW: Yes, that's really cool. So you explained really well, I think, how God has prepared you, for this from maybe more of like, a business perspective, and, and a strategy perspective. What about from like, a heart perspective? Or maybe a generosity perspective? Is there? Is there a kind of that side? Or can you tell that story of how God's really shaped who you are, and, and who you become, and brought these two things together?
DC: Yeah, a couple of important milestones in that journey. At about the time that we were selling the Cobb group, the very first company, we discovered a book by Randy Alcorn called Money, Possessions and Eternity, if you scratch, you know, number of people kind of in this kingdom, world, giving world of a certain age, you know, in their 50s, or 60s, a lot of them were going to mention that book. It was very influential in our lives, and led us to a commitment to living in a certain, you know, lifestyle and generosity, commitment that, you know, has been pretty radical that God has seen us through and provided abundantly for us. And, you know, we don't feel like we've really sacrificed although I think if we, you know, if people were to know exactly what that was they they wouldn't be, you know, surprised by it. And so that's really important. And then about the time I left the cop group, to start chrysalis right in between there. I met Paul Eshelman, who at the time was leading the Jesus film project, and he tried to recruit me to come work for him. And I said, No, Paul, I'm not going to do that. I don't want to go to California. That was a good choice, I think.
But so his second ask was, well, in that case, why don't you come with me? I'm going to Nigeria in a couple of months. Why don't you come along? And you know, see what we're doing over there through the Jesus film. And I mean, literally, I said, Yes, that literally, I'm driving home and I'm like, telling my wife, I don't want to go in Nigeria, like such a cliche. You know, it's the Christian cliche. Oh, God, I'll do anything you want. Just please don't make me go to Africa. Right. And so, so he asked me to go to Africa. I don't really want to go to Africa. But I go to Africa and that trip was transformational, you know, not only seeing the world in a different place in a different way, you know, meeting Nigerian people, you know, and one of them is going to be our house guests tonight by God's grace, a friend that we met on that trip, you know, 30 years ago. And, but most importantly, connected me to Paul.
And so, Paul, when he left the Jesus film, started a ministry called Finishing The Task (FTT). FTT is a network of ministries that are dedicated to seeing the Great Commission completed in this generation. It was through that ministry that I became acquainted with this opportunity that I, you know, caught the vision for finishing the Great Commission that I learned about the promise of Matthew 24:14, that ties Jesus returned to the completion of this task, all that I learned through Paul and FTT. And so kind of the, you know, the two streams come together of, you know, God, God leading us into this life of generosity and, and giving, and then this, you know, idea about the Great Commission, and really those two things come together in The Finishing Fund. So, yes, there was definitely a long time of preparation and, and equipping, you know, for that as well, that led to where I am today.
DW: Doug, would you share what the vision that God has put on your heart is, and really, I guess that ties into and leads into what The Finishing Fund is?
DC: So to do that, I have to just do a brief, you know, make sure that we're all on the same page with respect to what the Great Commission is about. So, the great commission in Matthew 28:19 is the most commonly quoted version of that, "Go and make disciples of all nations." There's several key words in that, "go" is a really important word. Nothing happens until we go, make disciples is really important. You know, it's not just about baptisms, it's about disciples, it's about people who are following Jesus. But that word nations is also super important in the Gryz that word is is "ethnos". It is widely now believed to describe a people group is the way we would talk about in English a group of people who share a language, you know, an ancestry, ethnicity, geography, and culture. The PhDs who study this stuff, say that there are about 12,000 of those "ethnos" in the world. And so as I read it, when Jesus said, Go and make disciples of all nations of all ethnos, he met, go and make disciples of all 12,000 of those, take the Gospel to them.
What I learned through my connection with finishing the task, is that in 2022, it's still true. There are still ethnos in the on the planet that nobody has ever been to to tell them about, about Jesus. When I first got connected to that in 2005, there were about 3500 of those groups left out of 12,000. So what's that a third or a quarter? By 2017, when we started the finishing fund, that number was down to about 1450, cut in half roughly. And the idea behind the finishing fund was that if we could raise a pool of capital that could support ministries who were willing to go, we might be able to speed up the effort to get to those last groups.
And so in the five years since we started, the finishing fund alone has helped get the gospel to close to 700 people groups. You know, we've seen new believers in about 500 of those 700. You know, so we're hoping for good reports on those coming up here at the end of in the next reporting cycle. And you know, we're now down Daniel to, on our list is 78 groups left, as far as we know, our best research we have, best awareness of people groups that still have no active project, and you know, no gospel presence. And so we're continuing to push on our goal is to drive that 78 number to zero as quickly as we can. We don't do the work. We just helped fund the work that it turns out that, you know, the proposition that available funding could help speed it up, I think has proven to be true and so you know, we've been really encouraged by that.
It's exactly like a venture capital problem. You know, there are ministries that need capital to move faster, just like there are businesses that need capital to grow faster. On the other side, in the same way there are investors who would like to be invested in startups, but don't quite know how to do that, there are donors who would love to be engaged when they catch the vision for this in this kind of sprint to the finish of the Great Commission. and we make it possible for them to do that without figuring out how to, you know, which Indian Ministry they should pick, you know, I mean, of the hundreds of ministries they might work with, which ones will really be able to help get this done. We do that for them. And we do it for free. You know, I serve as a volunteer. And so it's a pretty good proposition if somebody is excited about the, you know, the Great Commission opportunity.
So yeah, you know, it has been remarkable, it is remarkable to have a front-row seat to what God is doing around the world. You know, we tend to in the West be kind of discouraged about elections and culture and COVID and the economy. I mean, you know, there's plenty of things to be upset about, I'm happy about, worry about. But at the very same time, the gospel is breaking into places around the world where it's never been heard before. Thousands, millions of people are coming to Christ in some of the hardest places in the world, in India, in the Muslim world, in China. And so, it's a great, you know, it's a great way to refocus one's mind away from the discouraging things in the west toward the encouraging things that are taking place in the east and the south.
DW: Do you have a few examples or stories that you could, you could share with us?
DC: I do. I love telling me stories, I have to disguise the names and the places because all of these things are happening in dangerous, fragile places. And you know, disclosing the exact thing would be, would be tricky. But let me tell you the story of a people group that I call the greeish people. This is a small people group, they live way up in the mountains in a small Central Asian country. They have been for, you know, a thousand years, every one of every greeish has been a Sunni, Muslim. And as far as we know, there had never been a believer in Jesus in that people group until a couple of years ago. But a few years ago, a great ministry called Engaging Nations began to work in the capital city of that country. And among people grew up there and was began to build a church there, saw hundreds and hundreds of people come to Christ, and began to share with them the vision for the Gryz people and a group of other unengaged people groups and that same country.
And so they came to the finishing fund to pitch us on, you know, helping to support that work. And we agreed to do that in the early part of 2018. And then, once the mountain passes were passable in the spring, a group from the capital city made their way up toward the first village of the Gryz people, they had been praying that God would connect them there with a person of peace, if you want to know how this work works. Just read Luke chapter 10. Very often, it's exactly that way. You know, it's a small group two by two, or sometimes a small group of believers who go to a place, pray for a person of peace, introduce that person to Jesus. And that's how that's how it starts. It's kind of remarkable, the old the way Jesus told us to do, it still works. The as they're approaching this village, they see a man walking by the side of the road with his cow and his new calf. Having a new calf is great.
Right now I've got two cows, you know, doubling his wealth. And so they've come to meet people and tell them about Jesus. So they stop there by the side of the road, they get out, they introduce themselves, and they begin to tell this man, I'll call him out duel about Jesus. As they begin to tell him, he starts to weep there by the side of the road. And they asked him, Why are you weeping? What's the matter? And he explains to them that he has been carrying this load of guilt and shame for the way he's lived his life, and that no one has been able to tell him how to be free of that. And so right there by the side of the road, they explain about Jesus and who Jesus is and that He took our guilt and shame to the cross and took it to the tomb where it stayed when he rose from the grave. And right there on the spot. He prays to become a follower of Jesus, the first ever known believer in the history of the Gryz people. He says, You've got to come and tell my family about this and say, Well, of course we'll do that. That's what we've come and so they go to his house. They tell his wife and his children, they become believers as well. He's as you can use my home as your base of operation in this place, whenever you come, you're welcome to stay here. And that home is now the first church.
Among the Gryz people. There are five Gryz villages the that church has reached out to the other for now. And there are now scores of Jesus followers among the Gryz, the Gryz people. And you know, that story is maybe a tiny bit more dramatic than what we've seen hundreds of times, but only slightly. It's actually in some ways less dramatic, because many of the stories we hear involve some kind of spiritual sign or wonder, a miracle, a healing of vision, a dream, this one didn't involve any of those things. But it is representative of what God is doing in these here to four forgotten places on the planet. You know, as I say, when I talk about the Great Commission, I think the most important word in the Great Commission is go. Because when we go, God can do amazing things. Until we go, he's not going to do those things. He's given this job to us, He expects us to do it, he'll help us. He'll support us, He'll prepare people for us. I mean, there's, there's a lot of things he'll do. But you know, closing the deal requires us to be there making it happen. And so, you know, he we've seen that over and over that when people are finally willing to go when they finally go, they often find the Holy Spirit there, with his arms folded, tapping his foot saying Where have you guys been? I've, everything's ready. I've been waiting for you to get here. So that's pretty, that's pretty cool to be a part of that.
DW: That's fascinating, really great stories. And it's really, you know, think about reading the New Testament, and you're like, Wow, that's a familiar story. There's a lot of that in the New Testament.
DC: Yeah, I mean, the way I think about this, you know, I'm an Evangelical, I'm not a Pentecostal, I don't think about, you know, we're not, you know, active about the spiritual gifts. I'm not a secessionist, but, you know, it's not a part of our primary experience. But it's just an questionably true that once you leave the West, once you leave the Christian world, and you go to the frontiers, that the Holy Spirit is at work there. And he's at work there, in the same ways that he is, it was at work when the gospel was going to new places that we read about in the New Testament. And in my mind, that makes perfect sense. His purpose, then was to validate the testimony of his witnesses with power. Why would he not do the same thing now in these places, you know, that Greenwich Village, for all intents and purposes was, you know, was some place it was Philippi? Or, you know, Thessalonica, or Ephesus, when Paul walked in, you know, to tell the good news. And so, and why would he not, today do the same things to validate the testimony of who's his people, and we see it over and over again, that he's working, you know, through miraculous power to do this to accomplish this work.
DW: Doug, where do you see the finishing fund going next? Once every people group has a believer, what's the next stage? What's The Finishing Fund's 2.0.
DC: And that's exactly what we're calling it - The Finishing Fund's 2.0. So, to answer that question, let me share with you a model that Rick Warren has for the Great Commission. I really liked this model. Rick's great at, you know, taking complex things and simplifying them down. But he talks about, Rick talks about the three B's of the Great Commission, the three B's, you know, he's a Southern Baptist preacher, three points they have to obliterate. So believers in every people group, that's the part we've been working on up till now on the finishing fund. And we think we're getting really close the Bible in every language, that's the translation task, good people working on that. And then the third is a body of Christ in every place. And so, some people say, you know, within walking distance of every person on the planet, some people say every neighborhood village suburb, some people say, you know, for every 1000 people, there's different ways to frame that task.
But the idea is the church ubiquitous, you know, across the globe, and, you know, I think it's biblical. Matthew 24:14 says, this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world, as a testimony to all nations. So we've been working on the all-nations part of it. Now in finishing Finn 2.0, our desire will be to work on the whole world, part of it, the church and every place tasks, the third B and it's really the same work. It's fun I think churches, making disciples, it's going to often be many of the same ministries that we've been working with, it'll just be, you know, different kinds of projects, but, but we hope every finishing fun 2.0 project will do is finished some geography. So, you know, the world is divided into these little different different places. But the simple way to say it is, there's villages, there's what are called districts, that would be counties in the in America, there's provinces or states, and there's countries, some places have five levels, but four is very common.
And so every project we do in 2.0, we want the ministry to commit that they're going to finish a district that they'll plant a church in every village and a district or maybe a state, or maybe even a country, for some small countries, they'll make that commitment so that, you know, we're still about that goal of finishing. But instead of being people group focus now, it'll be more geographically focused. So we think it's a great extension of the finishing point, 1.0 Minister mission, and we think it's the obvious thing to do until Jesus comes back, we'll know when we're done. Jesus, you know, that's gonna be very easy to discern, you know, we won't be in the world anymore. But until then, I think we keep working and that that 2.0 goal is, you know, what we think is God, God's calling us to,
DW: That's incredible. And it's really cool to see it broken down like that, and see that high-level vision of finishing the Great Commission, and what that even looks like, because I feel like it's so difficult to think about finishing something when you don't even know that there's a vision or a plan to do that.
DC: You know, Barna has surveyed this and, you know, he gives us the disappointing news that something like one in six, or maybe one in seven, people who are sitting in the pews of churches, couldn't begin to explain to you what the Great Commission is about. I mean, most people would say, well tell everybody about Jesus. And while that's directionally correct, it's very, you know, very simplistic, and I think part of it is, is that it's a complicated thing, you know, it involves world geography and all these people groups, and you know, it's easy to get, but I love the way Rick has simplified it down into, you know, believers in every people group, Bible in every language, church in every place, I think everybody can capture that. So I have been a, I always give him credit, but I have used that probably a thousand times and hope to use it 10,000 more before I'm done to help people catch a vision for what, what, what you can do, you know, it's the one of things I like about it, it's actionable, right, you know, that there's a finish line, you know, are there believers, and every people group is the Bible, in every language, there's a finish line that you can point to, and, you know, I think that's very motivating for folks to get them, you know, to want to become involved in the work.
DW: Absolutely. So, Doug, what would you say is maybe one of the largest, or some of the largest challenges to finishing the great commission.
DC: COVID hasn't helped, you know, countries shutting down. And some countries, China particularly, are still doing massive, you know, shutdowns. On top of that, in China, there's this whole security state, which has made people made it difficult to move around and make people paranoid, they're always suspicious now of the outsider. So the old, you know, send to people to a village to tell them about Jesus model, it's much more complicated now in China. Some countries have put, you know, legal barriers around some of their primitive people groups making it illegal to go to those places, certainly for Westerners, usually, indigenous people can go, that, you know, that's common in Brazil, and some of the South American countries. You know, the classic problems, the reason these groups are left, small, remote, you know, very hard to reach, even with modern technology, sometimes hostile. So, I mean, there's just kind of an intrinsic difficulty to the, you know, to this last lap of the work that, you know, it's just kind of built in, but you know, it's happening.
And we think, Daniel, that we're going to be able to get projects underway, four of those 78 for all but about two or three of them, within the next say, six months. You know, we're really eager to see that get done. And, you know, that'll be a remarkable to be down under, you know, 10, maybe even under five, there's a few at the end that are going to be really hard. There's maybe one or two that God may have to just do a miracle to make make it possible for us. But, you know, I'm convinced he will do what needs to be done because I have already seen the result of this work. It's in Revelation chapter seven, where John sees a great crowd that knows a great multitude that no one can count from every nation around the throne. So I know it's going to happen. It's already you know, we've already seen the final scoreboard. The getting there getting from here to there is a little tricky, but God will show us how to do it.
DW: Yeah. So what do you think it would take to? To get that? I guess maybe first phase done? Is there, maybe some, some steps or anything that we can think about doing or praying for anything? And anything like that?
DC: Yeah, you know, I do think that praying is a critical piece of this, you know, this is a, this is a spiritual battle, the enemy knows that he is losing territory, he is not happy about that. I think he also knows what happens to him when the last territory has been conquered for the Kingdom. And so you know, he's going to resist, many of these government things, I think, are directly from the enemy. But then there's other things that happen as well, that you know, are, you know, more explicitly spiritual in nature. So, you know, really praying abut this is, is something that everybody can do and really important. You know, what's interesting is, if we're praying the Lord's Prayer, we're already praying for this, you know, what did Jesus say, you know, your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth, as is in heaven.
That is an explicit prayer for the completion of this great commission task, but you know, any prayers that people want to offer for seeing the gospel get to these last nations, those those are really, really precious. I think, Daniel, that we've raised enough money from our partners to fund the 1.0 goal, I think we have the money in place now to be able to do that. That's a bad, I'm being a bad development officer by saying that, but the good news is, is that you know, the 18 and a half million we've raised for phase one, which we think is enough, we think we have to raise, you know, we'd like to see God provide $100 million, for the finishing fund 2.0. So there's still plenty of opportunity for people to get involved, it'll just be toward that, you know, 2.0 goal, as opposed to the 1.0 goal.
DW: So how did you come up with the $100 million dollars for 2.0?
DC: It was the biggest number, I could say, with a straight face. You know, if you think about the task, you know, the, we're still working on the benchmark, but we think that the benchmark is probably $300 a church. And it's probably we need to plant 3 million churches to get to that. So you know, round up, it's a billion dollars, that the, you know, we would need worldwide to accomplish that. It'll probably be both less than more than that. There's things that will nudge it in both directions, you know, so what it what it turns out to be maybe, maybe less, maybe a little more, but that's that's a, you know, that's pretty good ballpark. And, you know, if we could be 10% of that through the finishing fund, oh, my gosh, what a privilege that would be. So, you know, I gulp every time I say it. But if I'd said a billion, I don't think anybody would have believed me, and I wouldn't have believed me. And so you know, 100 million is bigger than I know how to do. So it's got a big faith component to it. And you know, we'll just see what God what God provides.
DW: Absolutely, yeah, that's really exciting. And it's, it's cool to have some idea, or at least a guess, a good guess.
DC: I think it's good to share with people this is, you know, this is what we're trying to do, I think people respond to every venture capital fundraising that anybody's ever done, has said, we're raising a fund of X million dollars, right, or x billion dollars. And so everybody wants to know, how big is it going to be? What's the scale? What's the scope? And you know, I think that that helps people understand the nature of what we're trying to do.
DW: Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, and really, in the grand scheme of things, it's not that much money.
DC: It really is not, it's big for us. But there's any number of people who could probably write that check, just themselves, right. And there's certainly 10 people who could write $10 million checks and see that solve right away. One of the things I've been praying for in 2.0, is just ask God to connect me to some donors who could write bigger checks, who would want to be a part of this? Because it, you know, even though we've done finishing fun 1.0 as a major donor ministry, we asked people to commit at least $30,000 to, you know, to be a funding partner of the of the fun, it takes a lot of 30 1000s to get to 100 million. So, you know, we can use some bigger partners.
But I will say at the same time, this whole experience has been easily the most faith-building experience in my life, as I have seen how God has over and over and over again, you know, answered my prayers, provided what we've needed, introduced me to people build relationships, have money show up that I hadn't even asked for occasionally, you know, I mean, there's so many things that he's done that have, you know, affirmed this, this, this effort, so, I don't know if he wants us to do 100 million or 300 million or 10 million, but whatever He wants us to do, I am absolutely confident he will provide.
DW: Absolutely, that's really, that's really cool that you can share hear that and, and I'm really excited to watch how that goes and, and encourage and pray for and help in any way I can.
DC: Thank you so much.
DW: So looking back over your journey, is there anything that maybe, maybe you consider a failure that we can learn from?
DC: I mean, you know, whenever you do startup investing, you're going to have failures. You know, there's businesses we invested in, that we thought would work that just didn't. And of course, had we known that they weren't going to, we wouldn't have invested if you could figure out which ones those were beforehand, they all seem to be very promising, you know, when you write the check. And so their, you know, their stories around those, you know, the problem I have with trying to generalize out of those is, like I say, If I had known they were going to fail, I wouldn't have invested in them, you know, it, it, each one has its own unique reason why it didn't work. And so those are hard. I'm, you know, maybe the lesson out of that is just keep going, you know, don't give up when you have a failure or a mistake, you know, keep, keep pressing on, you know, I'm impressed at the Bible, that God values perseverance as a value, which is something I think, in general, as a culture, we're not very good at, you know, we quit quickly, we give up on our marriages, when they get hard we give up on life when it gets hard.
You know, a lot of people have been afraid, you know, as I see it these days, to even try, you know, it's too daunting. And the Bible really values perseverance as a characteristic of God's people, you know, enduring, persevering, persisting through difficulty to win the prize. And so, you know, maybe maybe one lesson would just be, don't let failure deteriorate, keep, keep going. You never know how God might use the lesson from that in some way later in your life. And you know, really, in a beautiful way,
DW: Doug, before we enter the mentor minute, is there anything else that you feel like, it would be helpful for the listeners to hear from your story, your experience?
DC: You know, one thing I would say would be, I told the story about that trip, first trip to Nigeria that I didn't want to go on. And, you know, and going when I didn't want to go, and was frankly, afraid to go. You know, I've been back to Nigeria, I've been to many hard places in the world since then, you know, you always feel a little feeling in the pit of your stomach when you get on the plane to go to a really tough place. But, you know, God has seen me through. I think the lesson from that is the importance of saying yes to God when He opens the door for you. Nothing else that we've been talking about, none of these other things that we've talked about, happen if I don't get on that airplane.
And so, you know, all of us can look back and see things that we have missed that God may have had for us. We all have regrets about that. I certainly do. But I'm really thankful for the times that I have said yes and stepped out. And so, you know, maybe a generalized lesson would be, you know, when you see God, when God puts that idea in your mind, you know, this is something you should do, to do it, and to be obedient and faithful and to trust him because you don't know what kinds of things might come from some relatively small thing that you say yes to.
DW: All right, let's do the mentor minute. So who is the most influential person that you know, and how have they impacted you?
DC: Yeah. For me, that would be Paul Eshelman, not a business guy, a ministry guy. You know, I'm not sure I ever really had a business mentor. But Paul is the one who gave me this vision for the completion of the Great Commission. You know, he mentored me, carried me along letting me have, you know, small roles and helping with that, you know, brought developed me in that space. And then, you know, when it came time to launch the fund, you know, gave me his blessing to help with that. So no question in, you know, as I look back, it's interesting, most people think of having a mentor when they're in their 20s, or 30s, my mentor came along in my 40s, in my 50s, to prepare me for something that I'm doing in my 60s. So, you know, it was a little bit upside down in terms of the timing, but no question, Paul would be the guy.
DW: Yeah, that's good. And then what book or podcast has changed the course of your life?
DC: I mentioned “Money, Possessions and Eternity”. That's a huge one. There's a shorter version of that book called “The Treasure Principle” that carries many of the same ideas. Really, Randy Alcorn is writing about heaven as well as really instructive. "Mere Christianity" was really important in bringing me to faith in Christ, and you know, it's still a wonderful book especially for people who might have intellectual objections to Christianity. Once you've read “Mere Christianity”, you know that there are Christians who are way smarter than you are. And so, you know, if they can, if they can get over those intellectual things, you can, too. And so, you know, that was really helpful.
You know, for me, interestingly, a couple of them would be books that I've written, one would be a book Using 123, that I wrote back in the 80s, that helped so many people learn to use Lotus 123, and really launched my business career, you know, you can kind of draw a straight line from that to everything else that's happened. And then more recently, this book I've written called, “And Then The End Will Come” talking about the things we've talked about here on the podcast, and, you know, kind of other signs that I see that suggest to me that we're living in the days of the return of Christ, you know, that is likely imminent. And you know, that that has been a very helpful tool for me in in doing, you know, doing my ministry work through the finishing fun. So, yeah, most people aren't going to name books they've written but there's a couple that go on my list that have been important to me, you know, as things I've produced.
DW: Yeah. I was actually going to ask you, just after you said that, so that's good. And what is the greatest lesson that you've learned about leadership?
DC: Oh, boy, that would be that would be challenging, you know? I think probably humility. You know, Jesus told his disciples, the Gentiles, lord it over them, but not so you, you know, what did he tell us, whoever wants to be greatest in the kingdom of God, no, must be the servant, and whoever wants to be, first must be last. And this is a struggle for me. Because, you know, probably humility would not be at the top of most people's list of things they would say about me. But it's something that God has worked on, you know, over time, and through a lot of challenging circumstances, to you know, accomplish in my life. So, you know, I think that would probably be the most important thing, you know, if you really want to influence people, you have to be willing to be their servant.
DW: This has been a great episode. And thank you so much for coming on. Is there anything that we can be praying for you or your family?
DC: Yeah, just, you know, I'm 65, I probably lost a step along the way. So just pray that God will order my steps and my you know, apply my time so that I'm able to get done everything and that things won't slip through the cracks, you know, that I'll be able to dot all the i's and cross all the t's. So it would be I'd really appreciate that if people would pray that for us.
DW: Yes, absolutely. Let's pray now. God, I thank you pray to you for Doug Cobb and his family in his ministry. And Lord, I pray that you would use him effectively to advance your gospel to all nations. God and we pray that you would finish the Great Commission that we would get to be a part of that we would join you in that work, and that we would go that we would go and make disciples of all nations. God will pray that our hearts would be having to have compassion for the lost and that we will desire to see your kingdom come your will be done on earth as in heaven. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
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