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How I Built This: Rodney Eric López and the G.A.P. - The Generosity and Abundance Process

(Image: The G.A.P., Rodney Eric López)

How I Built This features inspiring interviews with Glean Network Alumna, exploring the victories, obstacles, challenges, and breakthroughs that characterize the Spiritual Entrepreneur's journey. This month, we are honored to feature Glean Network Alumni (START Cohort 3), and founder of the G.A.P. - The Generosity and Abundance Process, Rodney Eric López

What is The G.A.P.?

Giving and the financial support of faith communities is often a difficult conversation between their leaders and members. The G.A.P. is an invitation to faith leaders to examine their relationships with money and those of their congregants, moving beyond the natural tensions of seasonal stewardship campaigns and taking a holistic view of what it means to live generously.

(Image: The G.A.P., Rodney Eric López)

Tell us about the “Genesis Story” of The G.A.P.. What were its origins? Why did you decide to build this? Why now?

The story of the G.A.P. begins with my story of financial stress. After years of poorly managing my finances and getting into multiple forms of debt, a switch in careers from corporate public relations to arts education exposed how hard it was to make ends meet with limited and variable income.

My debt caught up with me as I was starting a young family and in addition to barely making it through the month financially, I was feeling deep shame about my choices. After a decade of avoiding church, a sermon on achieving financial peace struck a chord with me. The message was that financial peace begins with giving. Although I was skeptical at first, I started a giving practice at church almost immediately. The practice of giving in faith (even though I rationally had no reason to give since I had way too many bills to pay) forced me to focus on what I had as opposed to what I didn't. That created the space for me to receive in other ways and eventually attract the resources I needed to climb out of debt and more importantly, let go of my shame around money as I realized that my story was more common than I thought.

"I felt that if the power of a giving practice could make such a difference in my life, perhaps such a practice could help others."

The curriculum that would become the G.A.P. started in small growth groups in my church and eventually served as the basis for both my online course and the in-person workshops that I would develop later. As people experience financial scarcity in an economy that is increasingly uncertain, I believe that faith spaces are uniquely positioned to provide spiritual and emotional support for people around finances. Too often, faith leaders are challenged in this area because they feel like asking for money is self-serving. It can be helpful to have an objective voice facilitate discussions about giving, personal finances, and the impact of external economic forces in a faith context.

(Image: The G.A.P., Rodney Eric López)

What has been the most rewarding experience of building The G.A.P. so far?

The most rewarding experience so far has been using the concepts of the G.A.P. to support a church from a state of financial instability and concern for its future to increasing giving in a way that felt authentic and not compulsory and eventually becoming a self-sustaining faith community.

What has been the most challenging experience of building The G.A.P. so far?

The hardest part of building this venture has been finding the right messaging to faith leaders. This is the kind of work that is typically done by ministers in either the church or the denominational offices. Bringing in an outsider can feel threatening or unnecessary.

What were your intentions coming into the START cohort? How did your experience with START support you in your journey?

My intention coming into START was to let go of all my assumptions about what the G.A.P. was supposed to be.

Even though I had a finished product, I wanted to be open to adapting or even abandoning it if that was the right choice.

The course work and feedback from both the faculty and fellow participants were really inspiring and encouraging. I learned so much about jobs theory and the foundations of building an entrepreneurial venture. I've come back to the course material time and again for refreshers and loved learning about the successes of my fellow START mates!

What is one piece of advice you would give to anyone entering START, or taking some of the first steps with their start up?

One of my biggest takeaways from START, was the importance of the MVP or minimum viable product. This is a quick expression of your idea that gives you critical feedback from customers before making significant investments of time and money in a larger venture. I wish I had known about this particular tool sooner!

If you have an idea, conduct some customer interviews, launch a mini version of your venture, get feedback, and build from there.

Are there any resources/hacks that particularly help you in your leadership role that you would like to share?

I can geek out on personal assessment tools - Myers-Briggs, DISC, StrengthsFinder, etc. However, I found one last year that I really love because during the pandemic I was wrestling with questions about my purpose - both personally and professionally. The Sparketype assessment by Jonathan Fields and The Good Life Project was a game changer for me. They've developed a tool to help you determine your "purpose DNA." It sounds weird and gimmicky, but after I took it, I gained incredible insight into why certain activities light me up regardless of the context in which I'm doing them. When I took the assessment in early 2020, it was accompanied by a mastery guide on PDF. Now, he's written a book that explains the meaning of your results that is being released in September. I recommend taking the free assessment at and then checking out his book Sparked.


Learn about START, our 10-week entrepreneurship incubator taught by Columbia Business School faculty. Deliver your vision into the world while building a sustainable business model to shepherd its growth -- and yours.

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