Thanks everyone for your input. For those that were not here over the past week, here is a summary of the conversation about mission, church, and how we can get over the recession.
Top 5 Ways for Ministries to Get Over the Recession
Recession: The Carnival is Over
Recession: How Bad is it?
Other bloggers/writers worth reading:
Claire Cooper – Five Things to Do in a Recession
Anglican Mainstream – Recession could push some dioceses over the edge
Skyebox – Mission and Recession
Sorry if the previous post on exorbitant Christian conferences in a time of crippling recession was a little gray (sorry David). But I do want to ask the question:
Where we gonna find the eyes to see a brighter day?
Where we gonna get the wisdom to find a more sustainable way?
Where we gonna invest our time, talent and money in the Great Commission so that it will . . . pay?
Ok – that last one was a little forced. I'm a blogger, not a songwriter. But if you have a good idea on how we can respond to this global financial crisis, leave a comment below. Maybe we should compile a top ten list or something . . . .?
Technorati Tags: christian, mission, philanthropy, church, recession
You blog a lot about the economy….as Christians it’s not really something we should be anxious over…we live according to an economy not of this world.
-Aaron J. (experienceshift.blogspot.com)
thanks Aaron. I am talking a lot about the economy this week but its relevant. And Jesus talked about it even more than he did on prayer and other “spiritual” topics. Lets hope that people move from anxiety to faith.
In Northern Ireland we are having a weird train of events.Many Presbyterians invested money in the Presbyterian Mutual Society ( a kind of Credit Union)with the subliminal encouragement of the Presbyterian General Assemby ( ruling body of the Presbyterian Church)They have stopped depositors taking out their savings ( many pensioners) and called in an Accountant to try and save the business and all the wee peoples investments.Much of their funds were put into Commercial Property and many loans led to the building of many shiny new church buildings and edifices throughout Ireland.Weird thing is the investors cannot get their money back as it is sitting in the bricks and mortar of many church buidings.Can anyone else see what a parable this is?God is speaking to His people loud and clear but with compassion for the poor.Many Presbyterians here are angry and disillusioned!
My suggestion? It’s time to think very seriously about intentional Christian community 2.0 (sorry, just made that up!) By that, I mean living together.
This is a great question and a topic that not only is vital but should a major source of conversation in the near future. Clearly our modern models of funding mission are drying up and as we move to a more missional posture as the church, how will we sustain ourselves?
Here in Phoenix, we’re grappling with this question as we plan for the future. We’re exploring multiple micro-businesses and bi-vocational models that generate dependable sources of income, allow for a sense of mission in the work itself, and also maintain appropriate margin for mission, ministry, and relationship.
I am anxious to see the thoughts, ideas, and conversations this post creates. I am convinced that this is one important question that we must labor to discover some answers that will lead us into the future and allow us to sustain the brilliant dreams God’s calling us to.
Zack – one of the things i have been encouraging this year in many countries is social enterprise, fourth sector, micro-business etc, in order for mission to be more self-sustaining.
some thoughts here
I have just completed a coursce on Micro finance from the chalmers institute.This has in the past been focused on third and developing countries.But I do believe as we see the mega structures fail the way forward for us is the micro where money is part of our relationships instead of a piece of paper or even plastic.Our relationship with money is damaged and we need to bring it down a level.where families and local communities are able to help each other to save and spend out of the relationships they have with each other,not some faceless person in a bank
Where I’m feeling it is in my ministry relationships. The personalities and entities in our (non-profit, parachurch) ministry think and feel quite differently about how to respond to economic questions. There are so many different models and ways to pay the bills that it’s almost inevitable that each of us will cling to some and resist others – usually with plenty of ‘my way is the way it is SUPPOSED to be’ thinking.
You’ve probably seen it – some saying, ministries just need to start learning from business and not be so naive, others saying, maybe no ministries will stop being so worldly and remember it’s the kingdom they are serving.
I feel trapped between pressure (and desire) to help everyone for free or close to it – because they are “in ministry” too and trying to do things as economically as possible – and pressure to only help those who will not only cover basic expenses but be a major income stream as well.
Personally, I find it really distasteful to have to make decisions about what ministry opportunities to pursue based on how much money’s in it for “us.” That’s one reason I raise support. It’s as if my supporters say, “we want to free you up to serve, so we’ll pay the bills!” Only, the rest of the ministry isn’t structured that way. Even as a nonprofit we have tens of thousands of dollars of expenses each year which are not covered by the support the staff of our small office have raised. Others are fine with that and turn toward business models – we need to do work that makes money. I’d rather just raise more support or cut expenses. The battles that flare up have sometimes been quite bitter.
It’s been hard to get at the bottom of this because it seems to tap into long-standing personal issues of fear and pride which cause us to overreact and lash out at one another.
I’m a church planter in Québec, Canada; home to 6 million French-speakers.
50 years ago there was less than a handful of evangelical churches (of any stripe, philosophy, ecclesiology, or otherwise). And since it is French-speaking, the tidal-wave of theological training materials in English is of little use (unless translated). The early church planters had to figure out a sustainable way to train pastors/elders/church planters at little or no cost to the local churches.
In the 1970’s, several missionaries and pastors set up a network-based training strategy. Local churches and pastors use their common resources, training, experience, etc., in an intentional 7-year plan, to train pastors, elders, leaders, etc. Over the past 30 years, the evangelical presence in Quebec has grown to a little over half of one percent.
Here’s how this ties into the current economic downturn:
Since this is an ecclesiocentric movement, training is done within the network of churches rather than building outside structures.
Pastors and elders give of their time to teach weekend theology courses/seminars, etc. Churches give of their buildings to host these events. Pastors are trained how to coach and mentor rather than depending on a seminary to do it for them… their collective and growing experience, wisdom, and knowlege IS the seminary.
All of this nearly eliminates overhead costs. We are working within a church planting movement to provide needed resources rather than building an outside structure.
Conclusion? Even another great depression, where unemployment skyrocketed to 30% or more, would not stop this model. It is not dependant on finances to function… it is dependant on healthy and missional (or “mission-y”?) local churches.
I’ve never seen anything like it in the English-speaking world.
As a family we decided to live together for at least a year of so. My two adult children, along with my son-in-law Nate and my beautiful granddaughter Taylor, have all moved into our house.
When times get tough, the answer is living as a multi-generational family house church. It has been great.
Thomas Homer-Dixon has some good ideas in The Upside of Down for the long term but in the short term this has taught us the value of having savings, not buying everything on credit, living simpler and within our means.
I was on my face recently seeking God on a strategy to face the apparent downturn as it relates to the viability of our missional work here in Ferntree Gully. Our board were looking for a revised business plan and practical ideas to keep funds rolling. The word Papa gave me was this: his two-step plan for surviving the economy.
1. “come up unto me and BE there” This is the apostolic directive he gave to Moses. Us men of flesh and bone want a “practical” plan, but our Lord simply expresses the only thing that will satisfy His heart and ours: his desire for intimacy with us, not to get, not to know, just to BE there with a whole heart.
2. He gave me Psalm 87:2 “I love the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob”, ie, He loves the place of entering in more than where those who are his children already dwell. Therefore, if the church reduces it’s funding or tightens it’s belt in giving and support of missions in favour of shoring up finances within the building, it does so in direct opposition to the heart of God.
Psalm 87 is a great read and a great mystery and is worth exploring, as the whole thing speaks directly to this issue, although i won’t torture you with my personal exegesis of it, besides, it’s the glory of Kings to search out these things.
I took this two step plan to my board, adding that if we ignore this speaking and try to fix things only with good economic practise and human fiscal wisdom, then we would, no matter how wise or shrewd we are, continue to scratch our heads and wonder why the thing keeps bleeding and we can’t stop it, that God does not find it extravagant to bring to ruin any work in his name, if we put human constructs before his priorities and heart.
The word was received and we are, three weeks out, doing better than ever before and have taken on two more staff and need more to cover the current workload.
He is good.
The ONLY way out is to ….
CREATE more money so that we can SPEND. WE must consume .. the Western World is most happy when it consumes.
thats funny. i hope the secular world is not expecting the Christian community to help pull us out by spending. there might even be a backlash if we suggest a better way that doesnt involve spending.
In response mainly to Aaron (who posted first). I’m glad that Christians are focusing on and addressing this economic crisis. We need to be a leading voice in this time. There are too many issues in our world where the church just sits by inactively hoping it will all just pass us by and we can get on with our Church life. You are however right that we should not be consumed with fear, and as Andy says – to move into faith. The church however, needs to redefine itself in this time, we unfortunately are the consumers and materialists in so many areas.