"We started F4T to change our community one neighbour at a time!"John & Sue Sikkema, Founders of Food4Thought
How it started
“Let’s throw a BBQ and invite the business people and neighbours we have got to know over the last few years, and ask at the end of the night: “Would you like to come fortnightly for a meal and chat as business people?”
It’s a surprise to some, but many business people who feel isolated and unsupported are open to looking for faith answers to their deeper issues and problems. When they see the Christian faith modelled in a genuine, loving way with no strings attached, they become very open to input from relevant speakers and high-quality resources (such as the Alpha film series). A F4T gathering can bring all this together, while providing mentoring and coaching, as well as the friendship and support of others in the group.
We have discovered that changes over recent decades have brought about great pressures and stresses for many, but it has also presented great opportunities to significantly help many business people. One or two generations ago it was normal that you would shop close to home and would know the owners and staff. You’d also likely know your neighbours, and often your relatives lived nearby. Your local sporting club, church and community activities were also generally nearby. But over the last 25-plus years we have been through a surge in moving away from our families to other cities, states and even countries as globalisation has become a reality affecting many people. People have moved for study, career and lifestyle reasons, or sometimes just because they want a change. The low cost and ease of air travel, the influence of the internet, and the birth of the global village, has brought dramatic change.
The move to downsize to live near the inner-city and the trend to shop at large shopping centres, rather than buy from small shops close by, is a reflection of our changing world, as is the trend to move from small local churches with a strong sense of community, to large churches where you are basically anonymous unless you decide to opt in to the programs they offer and that are sometimes thirty to sixty minutes’ drive from home. Inner-city living has resulted in a greater sense of aloneness being felt by many who may be distant from extended family. It can be lonely in a crowd.
Many men and women in business want a sense of meaningful connection with peers but don’t know where or how to find it.
All this has collectively resulted in extreme busyness and a lack of genuine connection with people in the neighbourhoods where we live. As a result, we often lack any sense of community outside of work, and don’t have deep friendships where we can be vulnerable and honest.
In many ways, this was how we started a group that led to the birth of F4T.
Having moved to a new area as a couple of empty nesters and having no family within thousands of kilometres or community nearby, we searched for an answer to the question: “How can we connect and get to know our neighbours and the local business people like ourselves but who don’t necessarily share our values and beliefs?” More specifically, “How can we live out and share our faith when we can’t find any vibrant and life-giving church nearby?” Then there was the added factor that our society seems to be trashing the values we cherished.
And so an idea was born: “Let’s throw a BBQ and invite the business people and neighbours we have got to know over the last few years, and ask at the end of the night: “Would you like to come fortnightly for a meal and to chat as business people?”
We were excited that quite a few said “yes” and were keen to explore questions of meaning and purpose, using great resources and concepts like Halftime and Alpha. The nights stimulated great discussion, leading to quite a number of people surrendering their lives to Jesus and getting baptised. These humble beginnings led to us birthing a new church! The positive response and hunger to come along, and keep coming along, with the frequently heard question, “Can I invite a friend?” has been astounding, encouraging and exciting!
We have known many Christian business leaders like me who have searched for tools and a method on how they can move from being passive church attendees to reaching their lost business friends in their local communities and workplaces.
This is the F4T journey that I invite you to share. I’m confident that you won’t look back.
About John Sikkema
John Sikkema is a business entrepreneur, author and thought leader who is passionate about motivating and mentoring entrepreneurs, business leaders and community leaders to discover their life purpose and align their business with that purpose to leave a lasting legacy.
He is the Executive Chairman of Halftime Australia, a values-based executive coaching organisation addressing the growing hunger and need among Australian business leaders and owners to pursue more than just success. He is also the Director of Halftime Global Partners, a
Christian organisation. The Halftime Institute is located in Dallas, Texas.
He serves on various boards which includes his position as non-executive Board Chairman of Prime Value, a Melbourne-based funds management company. Prime Value is an award-winning boutique Australian investment manager. Prime Value, together with associated company Shakespeare Property Group, manages more than $1.5 billion in Australian equities, cash like instruments, commercial property and agricultural assets.
John is also non-executive Director and shareholder of LCP Global Pty Ltd, a leading strategic management consulting firm that started in the US in 2010. LCP Global works with business leaders, executive coaches, HR professionals, consultants and leadership development professionals. Its leadership solutions are backed by rigorous research and include the unique, results-oriented Leadership Capacity Program.
At age 49, as CEO and largest shareholder of the financial planning group Garrisons and Funds Management company – Synergy Capital Management, John successfully sold his business to Packer-backed listed company Challenger. John had transformed the small company he started in Tasmania into a successful franchise business with 65 offices across Australia. Yet, it is his personal transformation that remains his most satisfying and rewarding achievement.
He is passionate about inspiring and empowering business leaders to make the second half of their lives more impactful than the first half – by turning their business and life into a living and lasting legacy!
John is also actively involved with Empart (formally Compassion for India) globally, taking business people on leadership trips to North India for a truly grounding and life-changing experience.
John penned Enriched: Re-defining Wealth, largely in response to frequent requests from seminar participants to share more of his story and journey. John and his wife Suzanne live in Bayside, Melbourne and have four adult children.