Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the church & the economy

Two of my favorite people in the world are Leif and Margaret Oines.  You may know her better as Margaret Feinberg, her writing name.  What an awesome couple who love Jesus and happen to love The Community as well (hope to announce soon when they will visit us again).
I've been spending a good bit of time praying for the situation here in our nation as you know from my devotion yesterday.  Margaret wrote something a couple weeks ago that I want to share portions of today (this stuff makes me see what the church's place is during this economy situation).  Read on:
Few areas of our economy are recession proof these days including the church. I have friends who are taking 20 to 30 percent pay cuts and even higher. Still others have lost their paychecks completely.

What can church leaders and their members do to prepare for economic challenges?

1. Recognize that God is still in control. ...foreclosure and unemployment ... spiraling out of control ... God is still on the throne. No matter what economic challenges your church faces, remember that God remains faithful.

2. Recognize that economic challenges provide an opportunity to reassess what's most effective and meaningful in your church.
When financial difficulties arise, everything has the opportunity to be reevaluated ... Like pruning, cutbacks hurt, but in the long-term they can be extremely healthy.

3. Recognize that financial difficulties remind the church that every member is meant to be an able and active member. ... We were never meant to be spectators but actively engaged and living our faith out ... needs for volunteers are effectively communicated, people have an unprecedented opportunity to put their talents and gifts to use.

4. Recognize that financially tough times provide an opportunity for the church and the people of God to shine the brightest. Today, more than ever, your dollar can go further and make a bigger difference in the life of another. As Christians, we are called to be the people who run in when everyone else is running out. (emphasis here is MINE)

5. Recognize that when it comes to giving you have to get specific.
...too many leaders are shying away from talking to their congregations about cutbacks for fear of having to give "the money talk". ...When giving is talked about as an active, vibrant expression of our faith that ignites change not only in our hearts but in our communities... When giving is discussed in terms of specific needs within a congregation and local area...When giving is given a face, a name, a tangible expression, then people are not only willing to give but do it joyfully.

I know one church who had planned on purchasing a much needed play area for their children. When the economy turned, the pastor simply let the church know of the need and that afternoon they received a check to cover the new play area.

I know of another church who has looked at every line item in order to cut expenses but save staff positions (one of any churches most valuable resources). They've cut back on everything from color copies to the bug exterminator opting for black and white copies and do-it-yourself sprays.

I know of another church that decided that in the face of economic hardship the message of giving was more important than ever. They decided to give their members cash and encouraged them to make a difference in the life of someone else.

What kind of action is your church taking?
Friends, that is huge.  Another reader of the devotion said this:
We each should strive to simply remain obedient to Gods word and leave the consequences up to Him.  In my view, the body of believers should step up to the plate to help others as each has a need as shown in the book of Acts.
There it is.  Nothing else needs to be said other than a word from our leaders ...
1 Peter 4:10 (nlt) --- God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

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happy birthday, Julie

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