Economy Straight Talk

So, the economy stuff has been on my mind lately. Both the big picture of the effect on our nation, and the local picture as it affects our community, neighbors, family, friends, and us. Often though, what I think about is the church.

I realize I often cast pretty radical and extreme visions for what I think the church and/or ‘Christians’ lives should look like. I’ll be the first to claim hypocrisy in my inability to carry it out at times as well. But, I can’t help but look at the current state of our country and feel like we as a faith community have again missed an extreme opportunity to be a radical “set apart” community that the world couldn’t help but recognize.  Instead, our churches are facing the same economic slump as everyone else. For all our “Christian” financial planning and preaching, we, on a whole, have been living beyond our means and far beyond our basic needs, just like everyone else.

I also find it ironic when Christians choose to speak about on the political front. I received no emails of concern or outrage when the government threw together a 1 Trillion dollar bailout in October, but now I’m getting emails left and right. I see two possibilities: 1) after seeing the first ones dollars disappear in thin air we are a bit more skeptical, or 2) it has something to do with the political party of the current administration. Who knows, I just find it ironic when we choose to jump into the political ring. On that related note, I was extremely convicted when I came across my xanga post after the 2004 election (sorry, you’ll have to dig up the link yourself), let’s just say I was as shocked as some of my conservative friends in ’08.

Seeing and hearing about people around me lossing jobs, others being let go, foreclosures and the rest, I can’t help but wonder what is the churches response. Or, what is my response? We are pretty secure in our job and home position, so how do I live out my faith and convictions in these times? What role do I play? I think I have the same tendency as everyone to start stockpiling for safety and thinking only about me and mine. But, I think our faith challenges us to live differently, but I’m not sure myself what that looks like.

Any Ideas?

8 thoughts on “Economy Straight Talk”

  1. I think my "bigger" idea is simply for the church to be the resource to the community that it should be. I know after school programs and job fairs exist, but I don't know of many led by, organized by, and held at the church. Obviously established programs are not working, so I think the church should take a more intimate/specialized approach in the community…i.e. help provide the encouragement and foundation necessary for lower income children to get a four year degree, filling in the gaps left by other programs.

    I just feel like the church is in a unique position to be able to put a face to a child, to a family and be able to identify specific needs and meet them via the vast amount of resources housed in the church.

  2. Seth,
    thanks for chiming in. Solid thoughts. I like the job fair and after school ideas, but I was wondering if there were any bigger ideas, ones that haven't been done before? Are job fairs and after-school programs enough? What if there aren't jobs available? What's our role then?

  3. I think part of the reason we are seeing more e-mails about this current stimulus package is that it contains money for "pro-choice" ideals and there was also concern about Obama taking away some of the faith-based hiring practices that many Christian orgs take for granted.

    I think part of our role is to not get caught up in the dire predictions that fly all around us but to rest assured in the peace of Christ and to share that calm and peace to our neighbors via relationships. Obviously that can be more than just sharing the spiritual peace but also the physical bread and butter as well.

  4. Right on Daddy-O. I like the way you think. We've been working on the potluck a bit.
    I've got to tell you about this Restorative Justice thing I was a part of tonight, it was really cool.

  5. Don't worry about rambling Seth. I think your vision for the church is right on. Let's hope more churches actually put it into practice. Have you seen any that are?

  6. I'm not sure if I'm making my point clearly (I tend to ramble), but I believe the church is the perfect hub for problems and solutions to meet, without the confusing red tape that keeps many from getting food stamps or jobs that they are qualified for. Whether it's an out of work web designer providing a discount redesign of a church members website or a homeless alcoholic getting the support he/she needs, this country is saturated with churches that have ample money, people, and skills to meet these needs.

  7. As Obama quoted, "It's time to put aside childish things." We've gotten in this situation through irresponsibility and greed, and seemingly the best (maybe only) way out is to act as a community…act on our morals and sacrifice/provide for those in need. For these ideals to reach the national and eventually global level, they have to start in small places ubiquitously…our churches.

    What a perfect opportunity for a simultaneous makeover of the church and country. We can use our churches to support job fairs, after school programs, scholarships, etc. Using our collective voice very carefully and in-line with the gospel, but loudly, we should be able to provide a fuller/happier life for ourselves and our neighbors than we had before this whole mess and hopefully give the world a better picture of what it means to be a Christian.

  8. There are global actions, national actions, local actions, church actions – there are many re-actions one can talk about and even participate in or (hold on here) create! Grassroots actions. Then there is the simple actions of pulling together in community, breaking bread together (potlucks) which ease the burden of food and grocery costs and alleviate the feeling of loneliness. There is the need to encourage and pray for those we know or haven't met yet. Offering to watch a person's child while they go to an interview or take time to work at looking for work. Using your own skills to review or type a resume.
    In the end – we must all learn to live more simply, to enjoy relationships over things – to unburden ourselves of the things we have come to believe we need in this life. It begins with us in simple ways, then our minds become able to imagine the bigger options.

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