“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 3:14
A modern day Christian Renaissance Man, Matt McPherson is the founder and CEO of both Mathews Inc., the largest bow manufacturer in the world, and McPherson Guitars, a leading name in the music industry for hand-crafted acoustic guitars. He is an award-winning singer and songwriter, the author of the well-known “Salvation Poem©,” and the executive producer of Poema de Salvacion, the first Spanish language Christian film to play in theaters in Latin America and in the US. Together with his wife, Sherry, he is an inspiration to enterprising businesspeople eager to learn the tricks of the trade, but more importantly, Matt and Sherry McPherson are outspoken, relevant servants of Christ Jesus.
“On my death bed, I’m not going to say I wish I had one more thing for myself. The older I get in the Lord, the more I realize that the things I never regret are the things that I do for God,” said Matt McPherson at his corporate headquarters in Sparta, Wisconsin, an idyllic town east of La Crosse. “As Christian business leaders, I don’t believe for a second that God has given us our businesses just to be wealthy. I believe that if you’re a Christian and you have a business, the main goal is absolutely to make an impact for Christ. If it’s not, I think that you minimize your potential.”
An avid bow hunter from a young age, Matt always knew God would use his abilities for heavenly glory. After receiving a vision straight from God, he began McPherson Archery in the mid 1980’s with the Inner Cam™, a revolutionary compound bow. Following a period of success, Matt sold McPherson Archery and began Mathews Inc. in 1992. “[Sherry and I struck out on our own] because if you have investors, the problem is they want you to take your profits and reinvest in the company. They don’t like it when you put your profits into missions,” he said. More than anything, Matt and Sherry wanted to support the work of God across the world.
Pressing On Toward the Mark
Taking the concept of personal evangelism to the next level, Matt is actively seeking ways to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every circumstance of life. By affirming that his company would support both national and international missions, Matt has aligned himself with men and women who have similar goals.
Making a difference for Christ through a partnership with Reaching Souls International, Matt’s companies annually support over 700 missionaries in Africa, as well as being involved with many International Ministries such as Samaritan’s Purse, Billy Graham, Convey of Hope, and Prison Fellowship just to name a few. Additionally, Lost Camo®, the number three camo design on the market, second only to Realtree® and Mossy Oak®, donates 100 percent of its proceeds to foreign mission work. “100 percent of its proceeds—not the “majority” or “most of”—but 100 percent of the Lost Camo® profits go towards helping people less fortunate around the world,” said Matt. More than the manufacturing of archery equipment and musical instruments, Matt is desperate to reach “just one more” for eternity.
“God has brought key people to work here,” he said. “I’m unbelievably privileged to have this huge group of employees—over 400 including temps. I have an incredible group of talent who have thrown in their lot with me; they truly believe in what we stand for. They’ve chosen to do things with me to make a difference in this world and I couldn’t do it without them. I’m overwhelmed by the quality, talent, and care of the people who work with me. There are well over 2 million people that have come to Christ each year since we have been supporting Reaching Souls International through this company’s work and ministry! I could never do that by myself!”
“Bottom line: if there was anything that I could do to help influence just one more soul, I would do it. The reality is this, as Christian business leaders, we need to realize that God doesn’t need us. He can do anything He wants at anytime He wants; He would just prefer that we would be a part of the story. I learned early on that God doesn’t need me. When you look at it in that light, you see that it’s a privilege to be a part of what God does,” Matt said.
Another way Matt is incorporating spirituality into his company culture is the inclusion of Corporate Chaplains of America. Mathews Inc. employs Warren Wetherbee, a full-time chaplain available to all employees for spiritual, emotional and practical help.
"I would challenge every Christian business owner, businessman, and businesswoman to give yourself to God every day. Ask Him to use you, to help you to be faithful, to be a good example, to promote integrity in all you do, and to be the kind of spouse and parent you need to be. Ask Him to fine-tune you. It’s what I do."Matt McPherson
Shooting for the Prize
In archery competitions, the goal is to shoot closest to the perfection found within the bull’s-eye; life is no different. As stated in Philippians 4:13, the goal of every Christian is to chase after the high calling of Jesus Christ: this can be defined by pursuing personal integrity and publicizing Christianity to the world.
Matt explains it like this: “I played kickball when I was in grade school and was pretty good, but there were some kids that were really bad. One day, I got to be captain and realized that it wasn’t about winning; rather, it was about people! The ones that jumped the highest in line were usually the worst players—they just wanted to be picked! So, I started picking them! I realized that it didn’t matter if I won, because winning really wasn’t the same as changing lives. The look in their eyes when I picked them–they were shocked! For the first time, they felt that they mattered. I knew that was what I wanted to be involved with—helping people feel valued. People feel valued when they find God’s purpose in their lives.”
Not only interested in American business, Mathews Inc. is the founding sponsor of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP®), a school program that helps boys and girls learn the skill of archery, while encouraging self-improvement and discipline within the structure of target shooting and physical fitness. Another arm of archery as a ministry tool is CenterShot Ministries, “an interdenominational outreach ministry that uses the life-skill of archery as a tool that assists the local church to reach its community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (www.centershotministries.org).” Mirroring NASP®, CenterShot reaches men, women, boys, and girls with the Gospel through the training and discipline found within the sport of archery.
“There is no ‘master plan’ for Mathews. We just continue to grow! I’m all ears if God has a new plan,” said Matt. “I never stop asking God if there is more for me to do. If you’re not asking, I don’t think that God is likely to give you anything new. The guy that keeps asking in a company is the guy that gets the most done. I want to be that guy. God has given me a lot; I want to prove faithful and hear ‘well done.’ I am careful not to be proud of what I’ve done, but obedient to what I’ve been called to.”
The Prayz Network, bringing Christian radio to Sparta, WI, and the surrounding areas, is another one of Matt’s passions. Accomplished musicians, Matt and Sherry enthusiastically partner with the station to air quality, uplifting music and teaching. With an internet broadcast, the Prayz Network literally reaches the world for Christ, one song and sermon at a time.
The High Calling of Christian Business
With an incredible sense of urgency to reach just one more, Matt McPherson is shooting for the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ; he is making a difference. His approachability and sincerity mark him as a man of integrity, while his cunning ability to mastermind revolutionary concepts that aid the production of both quality archery supplies and innovative musical instruments, Matt is setting the standard for Christian Renaissance leaders.
As the founder and president of an Inc. 500 company, Matt seems to have business figured out, but he is not interested in maintaining the status quo. “For 21 straight years, we have sold more bows than the years before,” he said. “My original goal was to sell 5,000 bows a year; between compound and cross bows, we will sell around 275,000 this year! In 1998, we were in the top 100 privately owned companies in America. It’s so amazing to me that I’m living in the favor of God, but if I ever lose the focus of why we have our company, to proclaim the Good News of Jesus, we’ll probably fade away into the sunset. I believe that with my whole heart.”
Matt believes that Christian business owners have a unique ability and responsibility to the American employee. More than just shepherds of companies, they are able to effect change in the workplace and promote Christian principles in both their personal and business lives. Owners that recognize this responsibility make a difference.
"Forget about trying to be important, just do what is important. When you forget about trying to be important, people realize that you’re not going to compromise. When you don’t try to accumulate trophies but simply do your best, you are important. The best leaders are those who are invisible and know how to plug the right people into the job."Matt McPherson
For a Christian, business is more than the pursuit of success. Matt McPherson has proven that both personal integrity and the quest for spiritual significance are vital parts of his company. By applying these principles across the board to corporate America, the face of the workplace will change.
“It all goes back to kickball; I may not be the best, but I’m the one jumping the highest. Without Christ I can do nothing; with Him I can do anything. If I’m not that good at kickball but God is on my side, I’ll do just fine. Challenge God. Ask Him to give you more to give away, to be more involved in people’s lives to bring them to Christ. Be sure you’re giving where God wants you to give. Don’t just be average; be extraordinary through Christ. Remember, souls are at stake! Enjoy the fight while swinging the Sword into day-to-day battle.”
During a powerful conversation in a coffee shop with TwoTen Magazine’s publisher Richard W. Hayes, David Twite shares his personal thoughts about Matt McPherson.
As the self-proclaimed “mayor” of the Caribou Coffee in Onalaska Wisconsin, business leader David Twite knows a good thing when he sees it. As a close personal friend of Matt McPherson, they regularly joint-venture in radical, Christian business-ministry work. Mr. Twite is the president and CEO of MacDonald & Owen Lumber Company, an Inc. 500 company. His company specializes in dovetailing high-quality kiln dried hardwood lumber with extraordinary customer service. Through their unique partnership coupled with God’s amazing grace, the Prayz Network broadcasts the Gospel message to the listeners throughout their immediate sphere of influence. Together, Matt and David are a Dream Team of spiritual awesomeness! I was incredibly blessed by their countless testimonies of God’s anointing in their Kingdom work.