Posted in Christian Living, Church, Current Events, Economics, Ministry, tagged churches, economic contraction, economy, Evangelism, Government, mercy, Ministry, repentance on February 8, 2009 |
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With the shrinkage of the for-profit sector, the not-for-profit sector will see a similar contraction. Churches are one of the not-for-proft organizations that will be hit hard. The government should take a lesson from other not-for-profits and cut back rather than trying to raise taxes and spend even more. These cycles come, but governments seem to lack the discipline necessary to save in times of prosperity for times of decline. Governments abhor a surplus and must spend it, much to our disadvantage.
Churches will be hit hard for a number of factors.
- Unemployed members.
- Under-employed members
- Lost retirement savings
All of these will reduce the offerings a church needs. If a church is small, or comprised of a largely retired population, that crunch will be most severe. I know of a few churches that are at risk for these very reasons. Things were already tight financially, and now these churches are on the brink and in grave danger.
Other churches will merely contract- reducing staff and/or programming.
On the surface, this looks to be a bad thing. As someone who is under-employed and watching the number of churches in which I could serve shrinking, I can see it that way at times. But overall I think it presents some great opportunities for the church at large.
- Opportunity for mercy ministry. There will be opportunities to take care of our own, displaying the love of God in a tangible way. We are to take care of one another, carrying one another’s burdens. There will also be plenty of opportunities to take care of the poor outside of the church- opening the door to sharing the hope we have in Christ.
- Opportunity to repent of our greed, materialism and consumerism. Many people are having to cut back on their spending and realizing much of it was superfluous and luxury rather than necessity. Many Americans live beyond their means- as evidenced by the average consumer debt. It is time for that to change. Our priorites can be reshaped, refocused by the gospel in times like these. Good financial management programs can be utilized to instruct those in and outside of the church.
- Opportunities to reveal the greater hope we have in Christ. Yes, this can be a time of effective evangelism as people realize they have built their house on sand instead of rock.
So while times like these are hard, they are also opportunities for ministry. Churches driven by the gospel will recognize this, and go for it. Churches driven by other agendas will … be overcome and possibly close their doors. It is in times like these when we need to trust Him who holds the present and the future, and remember that He tends to work most profoundly when it seems darkest.
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Posted in Politics, tagged abortion, candidates, economy, election, environment, issues, Justice, poverty, taxes, torture on October 27, 2008 |
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This is a very interesting election season, to say the least. I’ve been reading people’s blog posts, looking at internet boards my wife and I are involved in, etc. and seeing some interesting shifts among people of faith.
Words are interesting things- they have both the power to reveal AND conceal. I am not a one issue voter. Seems that people think Christians are supposed to be, or have been, one issue voters. As a result, they hear another candidate talk about some issues close to their heart and they begin to align with that candidate.
As a Christian, I am concerned about the poor, the environment, abortion, justice and more things than you can shake a stick at. Some candidates, and parties, are better than others about mentioning some of those issues. Both Presidential candidates, if you have been listening, say they want to reduce abortions, address climate change issues, eliminate torture, pursue economic advancement to reduce poverty, etc. So they seem equal.
But we must be careful- raising an issue is not to be confused with having a good solution for that issue. All proposals are not created equally, so we must examine how the various candidates want to address those issues.
Poverty seems to be one of the issues that touches base with a number of other issues. You can’t talk about abortion without talking about poverty. You can’t talk about the environment without talking about poverty. You can’t talk about taxes without talking about poverty. That is because some of the solutions to those issues will greatly impact poverty here in America, and therefore around the world. Solutions that actually reduce jobs (for instance, taxes on small businesses making over $250k- which is NOT much if you own a small business- will put people out of work increasing poverty, or climate change initiatives that strangle an economy increase poverty) will increase poverty here and abroad. Issues do not exist in a vacuum. There are unintended consequences that idealists tend not to recognize.
I find it hard to believe that a candidate cares for America when he does not care for its most vulnerable members. I find it hard to believe that a candidate cares for America when his economic policies will put people out of work and on the government dole. Don’t vote on the basis of emotion (he talks about the issues I care about), but take some time to learn how he approaches those issues and if that makes sound sense (not just a great emotional appeal). Discover HOW the economy works so you can choose a candidate who will make choices that facilitate its growth so people have opportunities to advance and voluntarily spread their wealth (called charitable giving). Vote with your head AND your heart.
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Posted in Economics, Ethics, Government, Politics, tagged candidates, civil morality, conservatives, economy, elections, Government, progressives on October 1, 2008 |
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During our pastors’ meeting to discuss Nehemiah 6, Tim Rice relayed this information from a discussion with a former CFO of Publix. It is helpful to understand a large economy, the issues that face our nation, and therefore how to wisely choose a candidate (there are NO perfect candidates, sadly). I am not savvy enough to reproduce the diagram, so I’ll wing it.
For Profit Business => Owners, employees & dependents => Not for Profits => NFP employees & dependents => Poor, unemployed & dependents
The foundation of an economy is For Profit Business (FPB). Those profits support the owners, employees and their dependents. I know in this day, the idea of making profits seems barbaric. But profits are how a business stays in business and therefore support all those dependent upon them. Those businesses and people provide the funding for NFPs, both public and private. The government is the public NFP which is funded by taxes. The public NFPs are churches and social agencies that are funded by donations. The more profit generated by the FPB, the more resources that are available to the NFPs. A government that wants to see revenues increase, wants to see the NFPs do well, not stifle them. It is simply increasing the pie, so the slices of the NFPs increase as well.
There is an inverse relationship between the public and private NFPs. The more the government takes in taxes, the less that private NFPs end up receiving. The employees and their dependents are dependent on how well the NFPs do, which is a result of how well the economy (read For Profit Business) does. The poor and unemployed (and their dependents) rely upon the NFPs until they work for either the FPBs or NFPs.
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