Interview with James Kramer – “It is time for Christian leaders to step up”
We interview James Kramer, the founder of Pneuma33, a fast-growing independent creative agency in Bend, Oregon. Through his story, Kramer reveals how anyone can find their purpose.
S&R: Can you share a little bit about your background?
James Kramer: I come from multiple generations of pastors who have a deep love for Jesus. My parents are pastors. I was raised in a Christian home and have been a Christian all of my life. Thus, I have essentially been in ministry since high school in some form or fashion. But, for the last 10 years I have been doing a lot of marketplace ministry.
S&R: Is Pneuma33 your first business in the marketing sector?
James Kramer: Yes. We’ve been running Pneuma33 for five years. It started as a web development shop, then became a full creative agency with branding, marketing, and advertising.
S&R: How did you start Pneuma33?
James Kramer: When my wife and I got married in 2010, we sat on a cliff together in Hawaii and said to the Lord, “Okay, Lord. We are here. What do you have for us?” The Lord immediately downloaded a vision of what he wanted us to go after, including the name, Pneuma33.
Pneuma is a Greek word for the Holy Spirit. It literally means “breath of God”.
At Pneuma33 we release the creativity of heaven into the marketplace. We promote people, ministries, businesses, organizations and regions into a place of influence to attract targeted customers, grow their brand, and expand their business.
S&R: Would you say a majority of your clients are in the ministry or secular business?
James Kramer: We certainly have a lot of clients that are Christians because they respond to our message, but our biggest clients aren’t Christians at all.
At Pneuma33, we feel called to be very overt in the marketplace. That means we are very bold about who we are and what we’re trying to do. We try to get behind brands that actually want to change the world—those that are doing something innovative and powerful whether they’re Christian-owned or not.
S&R: How did you go about getting your first client for Pneuma33 and what advice can you give to someone looking to find their first customer?
James Kramer: People respond to authentic brands. The more you communicate who you are and what you believe, the more people will be attracted to you.
We’re big believers that people don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.
If you communicate out of your core values, vision, mission, and purpose, you will attract the people who believe in what you believe and will want to do business with you.
If you’re an entrepreneur, be authentic. Be bold. Be who you are and don’t be afraid. Don’t hide it. Be who you are.
That’s how our company started. We just did what we wanted to see happen in the world and people reached out to us.
S&R: Do you run any organization that supports entrepreneurs with faith?
James Kramer: I’m currently helping launch a Kingdom-business organization called Hub Nation.
S&R: What is Hub Nation?
James Kramer: Hub Nation is looking to answer a few specific questions: “What is God’s vision for business and for Kingdom-minded people in the business realm? What does God want to do through all of the Kingdom minded business people around the planet? What is God’s vision for that?” In June, we have our first launch-event in Bend, Oregon.
S&R: How many hours would you say you work a day and how do you manage work-life balance?
James Kramer: The first couple of years included a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. But, since, we’ve transitioned beyond the blood, sweat, and tears, into something a bit more sustainable.
Recently, one of the questions that we’ve been asking ourselves is, “How do we operate out of rest? And how can we and our team have thriving, well-balanced lives?”
We didn’t start off with thriving, well-balanced lives, but now, none of our team works more than 40 hours a week. Since my wife and I co-own Pneuma33 together, we may work 50 hours on a bad week, but not much more than that.
We try hard to keep a life of balance where we all have healthy marriages, healthy relationships, and healthy bodies. That’s our goal.
S&R: How much time would you say you devote to prayer and Bible study?
James Kramer: At least an hour a day. We try to encourage that for our team as well, because everybody on our team is Christian.
Every Monday we have an hour together where we pray as a team, share from the Word, and then pray over the week.
On Thursday, we have another hour where we talk about our vision, pray for our clients by name, and also pray for our strategic partners. And, in some cases, like we did today, we actually pray over each other.
Because we are Christians going after something together, we realize that we can’t just do things by the world’s knowledge or by our talent and skill. We try to lay ahold of what God is doing and and invite him to release his creativity and innovation into our workflow.
Even when we work with a brand that is not Christian owned, we try to tap into heaven’s creativity. We pray for the creative strategies, creative solutions and creative artwork that really captures God’s heart for them and what God is wanting to do. Our clients are always blown away. Some have even said, “Wow that’s incredible. I would have never have come up with that, but it’s perfect!”
S&R: Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
James Kramer: My life verse is Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” That’s been my life verse for years. God is always going to faithfully work out his plan over my life, and will see it to completion regardless of how many times I fail, or start, or stop, or don’t do it very well. Even if I’m not doing very well, He’s still going to stay with me and see it to completion.
Another one is John 14:12: ““Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” Everything that we saw Jesus do, is something that we can experience in our own life, including the miraculous and the supernatural.
S&R: That is powerful. I’ve checked out the company website which is fantastic and your entire organization. You seem so rooted in faith. How are you able to really sustain that?
James Kramer: In Matthew 25, Jesus told the parable about the wise and foolish virgins. In that parable, some of the virgins had brought extra lamp oil while they were waiting for the bridegroom. Some of them didn’t bring enough oil, so by the time the bridegroom was on his way, they were out of oil. Their lamps were burning out fast, so they had to leave to go find more oil. While they were away, the groom returned and they missed out.
The lesson is this: if you’re not careful, you may spend just enough time with the Lord to keep the machine going, but it’s not enough to really help you thrive. Spend enough time with the Lord that you operate out of the overflow.
We need more presence of God. We need a backup so that when we are going through difficult times, we can pull from the history of time and prayer that we have with the Lord.
S&R: Do you remember the first time when you surrendered your life to Christ? Was there a particular moment?
James Kramer: There were a number of moments. I remember one in particular when I felt God ask me if I would allow him to do whatever he wanted with my life. I was at a high school summer Christian camp. That question completely wrecked me because I remember the moment I told Him, “Not only are you my Lord and Savior, but you can have complete reign over my life. I will take my direction from you.” It’s never been the same since.
S&R: What Christian organizations do do you admire?
James Kramer: Bethel Church in Redding, California has an organization called Heaven in Business. They ask the question, “How do you partner with God in business? How do bring God into everything that you are doing in business?”
There is another Christian organization called C-12 for Christian CEO’s. It’s practical business development done according to Kingdom principles.
Hub Nation would be in the mix. I mentioned them earlier.
There is another group called Co-Labor Ministries. They send teams of people to go pray in people’s businesses every week. It started with Blake and Linda Schellenberg out of Portland, Oregon. Now, they travel around and raise up teams of people to go into businesses every Friday on their lunch break and pray over the leaders of the business, as well as the employees.
We are also huge fans of Lance Wallnau and his 7 Mountain Institute. He has a massive calling to raise up people to influence all spheres of society for Christ.
S&R: Are there any businesses you admire?
James Kramer: Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby are both really impressive brands. I love that they are so bold about who they are and their Christian faith. I think that’s really courageous of them, but I know they have taken a lot of flak for it.
The marketplace can be hostile to Christians. It’s not easy, so I admire brands like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A that just say, “Here is who we are and what we stand for.” That’s who we try to be. We try to be a brand that says, “We are Christian. We love Jesus. We are going after the Kingdom and we want to serve people with excellence.”
We have one client right now who was actually offended because of our website. She realized that we were very overt about our faith, so she went on and interviewed seven agencies and ultimately she decided that we were the best, so she sat down in my board room and told me, “I think it’s very inappropriate that you talk about God on your website and your beliefs. It has no business in the business realm. I think it is completely unprofessional.”
But she went on to say, “I have interviewed seven agencies and you guys are the best. And I only work with the best, so I am going to hire you.” But then she said, “Don’t judge me. I don’t need be saved, and I don’t want to hear about God. So, as long as you don’t tell me anything about God I will hire you.”
Now, that’s what we want to be! We want to be Christians who model excellence. In fact, one of the things we have asked the Lord is that we can actually model how to be Christians in the marketplace and give courage to other Christians to walk that out with excellence.
S&R: As Christians I believe we must work with excellence so we can influence the world and glorify God
James Kramer: I completely agree with you.
One of our core values is: God is the originator of all creativity. As Christians, we should actually be on the cutting edge of technology, innovation, and design. And as you say, so often Christians are ten years behind. Our music has lagged behind. Our design has lagged behind. You look at most ministries or Christian organizations, and they’re just not up to standards. It’s not impressive.
As Christians, we have the ability to tap into the very source of creativity. We should actually be leading. We should be creating the new things that are trending. We should be ahead of the curve so that the world is catching up to us. That’s what we try to model, and we believe that excellence creates opportunities and allows the privilege to get to be Christians in the marketplace.
S&R: Are you into personal development?
James Kramer: Personal development is an interesting topic because if you are not careful, you could become very humanistic. We are not into humanistic personal development. That being said, I’m very much into allowing the Lord to do a lot of deep work in us and take us to high places.
I believe that Christians are called to positions of influence, and so, to facilitate that we have to become powerful people. I am not as much into personal development, but I certainly am into allowing the Holy Spirit to develop and make us into who we were created to be.
Isaiah 60 says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” The sense in that verse is, it’s time for Christians to step up and make a difference. It is time for us to actually step into our destiny and go change the world.
S&R: What are some of the most impactful books you’ve read?
James Kramer: One that we are reading right now is C. Peter Wagner’s book, The Great Wealth Transfer. It talks about how God is releasing resources to the people of God to go change the world.
S&R: What advice would give to entrepreneurs looking to start a business?
James Kramer: Here is the biggest advice I can give: you have to take risk if you’re actually going to truly make a difference. If you are going to fail, fail loudly. Go all in.
S&R: Are there any history makers that you can say you admire?
James Kramer: King David is my favorite character in the Bible. I love him because he was a man after God’s heart, but he also failed loudly and sometimes terribly. I love the fact that he failed and God still ultimately said, “this guy is a man after my own heart”. I love that.
My parents are models of mine; pastors their whole career, and some of the most loving and caring people I have ever known. They walk with people through the mud and the slime to see God transform their lives. I have never met better, more loving people than my parents.
Elon Musk is also a personal hero of mine because he is always innovating and challenging the status quo. He is not afraid to be audacious with the things that he wants to go after and it’s just an inspiration because he sets the bar so high and never settles for things that other people would say is impossible. He is willing to be ludicrous, and I love that.
Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel church in Redding, California is another hero. I’ve met him a number of times. I am really inspired by him because he pioneers how to live a supernatural and transformed life in Christ. There is so much anointing on his life and it gives other Christians a lot of courage to go after the supernatural.
Lastly, my wife, Anna. She is an incredible visionary. I haven’t met anybody who can talk to somebody, capture their vision, and help them get above all the noise in the clouds and get aligned with God’s call on their life.