I wrote yesterdays blog two weeks ago and today I discovered that John Piper was having some similar thoughts about the economic crisis. These times are good for missions.
Last week I wrote a little on our financial woes but I wanted to look on the other side. You know in this time of financial trouble it is easy to loose track of important matters in our panic. It is very possible that if we do things right, the church of Christ could truly thrive in the midst of trouble.
One of the founding factors in this trouble has been increasing energy costs. That means that everything is going to be more expensive and that includes the huge mega churches that we have been building. I don’t think we are going to see an increase in their number because they are simply going to be priced out of existence. But that isn’t necessarily bad news; it means we are going to have to adjust to new ways of doing things.
I believe one of the reasons the Bible doesn’t give any prescriptions on how the church should operate is because God knew it would have to thrive in many cultures throughout the ages. I think we will have some great advantages if we take advantage of them.
1. We can eliminate some of the more useless programs that simply attract the “Serve us” instead of the Service Christian.
Let’s face it as an organization we have tried every marketing ploy and outrageous idea in order to attract people to the church. Some have been affective but most have been laughable. Now maybe we will be forced back to the basics.
2. Smaller organizations
I have spoken many times about the benefit of smaller organizations but it never hurts to do it again. We may actually be able to build community in smaller churches with more ease. Less wasted money because there will be less to waste.
Small organizations have a higher percentage of involvement. When you can’t simply pay someone to do the work the leader’s job really becomes “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,”
3. No more prosperity
False prosperity gospels had an easy time flourishing in the soil of our rapidly rising economy but when things are turning around I think it will cause people to be a little more discerning.
4. Building Community
I have touched on it a little but I believe our economic times have helped us to ignore one another. My child hood home didn’t have Air conditioning and my mom used to sit out front and so did the rest of the neighbor hood we would talk to each other. If we actually turn the AC up and have to go out side it might be nice.
Or it may be difficult to go out on the town so we may have to have people over for an evening; there is something much different about inviting people into your home. Let us not forget how the gospel was spread from house to house in the early church.
Heather and I have recently taken a friend into a spare room in our house, she needed a place to stay and we had a room. It seemed only right that we offered her our spare room it wasn’t quite a necessity but who knows it may be depending on how bad things get.
We can’t always do what has always worked but we can always find new ways of doing things for the sake of the Gospel.
On the heels of my extrmeme Christianity blogs I thoutht it would be good to point out that I am not the only one feeling this way. This is a great little post I just stumbled across.
A recent Time magazine article looks at just that. The author notes that these prosperity preachers have been telling people for years:
That God will “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, dangerous expression during the subprime-lending boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”
It also caused some people to ignore their current income and the obvious results of an ARM assuming that God would have doubled their income by now, but in most cases he hasn’t.
That branch of the church has been left with very little good financial sense, people are just as in debt as the rest of the world. I myself and struggling with the hangover of a little of this easy credit drug, I do not feel able to give what I would like to because of my current financial situation, and believe me, I am not as bad off as some people I know. Or lack of biblical sense and financial sense along with the financial situation of the time has left us washed up on the beach after being pounded against the sand.
It seems that we have gotten into a place as a people where we don’t want to know about God through old fashioned ideas like doctrine; we simply want to know God through what ever means that could be. We are super humans who can ignore common sense and the rules of the universe and human nature. You can not know someone if you know nothing about them; human or divine.
I am becoming more and more convinced that it will be this group of “Christians” that will be part of the great falling away because they have no root of doctrine to hold to but are like that double minded man James talked about; thrown about by every wave of doctrine. Orthodoxy (correct thinking) leads to orthopraxy (right living).
Extreme Christianity III
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.
— Rom 12:1
I have read this passage many times, in fact it is one that I have memorized but the context has alluded me to a great degree. Most commentators divide the book with this verse as the beginning of the second part of the letter, which may be true but the word therefore means that the beginning of the book predicated this verse. Why would we present ourselves as living sacrifices? Because of all the reasons listed by the apostle in the first 11 chapters. What it is in those chapters? The greatest dissertation about on justification by faith in Christ.
Just go and read it out loud to your self it is wonderful…
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe….we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us…
It is this that drives the therefore of 12:1. Can any of us say we have presented our bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord? I doubt it. What would it be like if we would strive in every area of our life to bring Glory to the Lord and his Gospel? If we lived this life not as our own but purely as God’s what could we accomplish.
I have heard it said that the Christian life is one of moderation but I am starting do doubt that. I believe it may be intended to be an extreme one, one of extreme love and sacrifice. I just don’t like what that looks like and how to do it.
I just have to say I am stoked….
Ok, I am trying really hard not to be so critical but on our way to King’s Island this past weekend my wife was flipping through some radio stations and stopped on some music that isn’t really my style but I started listening because it seemed pretty good. Half way through I had to ask, “Is this a Christian song or a pop love song?” My wife laughed out loud and responded with “That is why I love you, you are straight forward about that stuff. It is a Christian song”