Published October 15, 2018

What if You Could “Swipe Right” to Serve?

Tim Keller’s teachings woke me up to the truth that believing isn’t the same as helping people in need – that teaching by doing is the best way of attracting others to the joy of Grace. But I was frustrated that it was so hard to find ways to use my gifts in a way that matched the needs in our city. I thought it should be as “simple to serve” as it is to book a flight on Kayak, grab a movie seat on Fandango or meet someone on

I looked up to God and said, why can’t we “swipe right” to serve? He looked down and said “Good point. Let’s get to work, son.”

My consulting clients were asking me to help use my time and talents to sell Tech to Tinder and Grinder, and I looked up to God and said, why can’t we “swipe right” to serve? He looked down and said “Good point. Let’s get to work, son.”

At first, I fell into a common leadership trap. Just because God inspired me, didn’t mean he expected me to do it by myself! Because I don’t like to fail or miss my commitments, I had to be reminded by Him that this is His plan and I am one of many tools He is using. It’s not my burden. It’s His. I just need to remain obedient and He will open doors. Just like this one!

My journey began with a connection.

My journey toward a solution started after a connection with my friend Jeff Johnson, who leads teams through Austin Bridge Builder’s Alliance (ABBA) to produce what they call Serve Days across Greater Austin. These Serve Days bring churches, nonprofits, cities and companies together to serve the community. Jeff needed a single platform to make collaboration easier, but more importantly, a way to foster the connections between people to persist beyond just the Serve Days.

By serving each other, we build empathy in ourselves and change our hearts.

In February 2017, my friend Norm Schoenfeld from Riverbend Church (a Summit host site) and Jeff Johnson attended The Global Leadership Summit planning meeting, where they met Bobby Gruenwald who shared his story about God creating “space” to start YouVersion (the Bible app) when he was in between companies. Jeff knew I was in transition, and called to share that Bobby offered to host attendees to learn more about their story. So I said, “Tell him we are coming to visit! How about next week?” So we did. And that was the spark that got Project Lighthouse moving.

Changing the narrative from “all about me” to “extending a helping hand.”

My dream for Project Lighthouse began with the idea of changing the narrative on social media from “all about me” to “extending a helping hand” to others. By serving each other, we build empathy in ourselves and change our hearts. In minutes, Project Lighthouse, can help anyone find an opportunity to serve others that matches their community’s needs to their skills, interests, availability and even their network of friends, so they can assemble together and take action.

One of the most powerful outcomes from this journey has been walking next to other Christians in tech who volunteered their gifts to help build Project Lighthouse—from Brazil to Ukraine and Vietnam to New Jersey and across Texas. Including my co-founder Jeremy Moore. They each found us and wanted to serve Him, to help make Project Lighthouse happen. They are the real inspiration!

Screenshot of Project Lighthouse Website

Bridging the gap and staying inspired.

Through the Summit, I realized how important it is for us as Tech leaders to share our faith to inspire others. The bridge between spiritual and secular leadership was very important for me to see. As a Tech leader, I’m confronted with the fact that much of our community has an atheist worldview. The Summit provided inspiration, resources and a community of leaders to help encourage and reinforce what we learned and take us on a journey to serve our community in bigger ways.

About the Author
Mark Piening

Mark Piening

Founder and CEO

Project Lighthouse

Mark Piening is the founder and CEO of Project Lighthouse, a volunteer-focused app that aims to reduce barriers for volunteers wanting to contribute their time. He is also the Principal at SBI, a management consulting firm. His career includes investing the last 20 years in Tech leadership roles across product management, sales, marketing and alliances. Being a part of The Global Leadership Summit community helped him make connections and increase his leadership skills to make Project Lighthouse a reality.