Each day the news seems to get worse. Our economy is taking a dive worse than we have seen in many decades. The news today that the bailout was voted down is another sign that economic recovery could be a long way off.
I am watching all this with interest in what it means for God's Church. As people's income decreases, their giving most likely will decrease. As fear kicks in, the temptation to hold onto our money, rather than give it away, will be ever present.
There's two pieces to this challenge.
The first is for us as individuals. We can either respond to our circumstances in fear or in faith.
I know that it is easy to fear as we think about the money we have worked so hard to set aside for our future being eaten away in big bites. But, the response of faith helps us to remember that we are "aliens passing through on the way to our true home." 1st Peter reminds us that this world is temporary for us and that our challenges in this world, doesn't have to consume every waking moment.
The best response to fear is to will ourselves to walk in faith, and that involves continuing to give our finances to God, knowing that he is the best investment we can make.
The second piece of this challenge is more complicated. It involves each individual church paying their bills. As less money comes in the door, cuts have to be made. Will it involve opportunities for ministry? or will it be to cut staff? or is it to stop all improvements and let the buildings age without maintenance?
These are hard challenges. All of the answers involve loss: loss of dreams, loss of tangible ministry, loss of relationships.
I believe that the road ahead in the American Church is not for the faint of heart. It will involve greater faith and wisdom than we have ever had to exercise before.
I feel a peace going into our Missio Lux Launch on Sunday. I feel peaceful that we have made intentional decisions to have light overhead and to keep things simple so that when the winds begin to blow and the storms rage, we can experience peace in the boat with Jesus as he calls out, "Peace, be still."