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Today the stock market fell another 500 points.  Iceland may go bankrupt, NPR reported today.  Euro-countries are aligning their financial strategies so they speak with one economic voice.  Government leaders are already talking about more federal dollars, in addition to the $700-billion just voted by Congress.  And the bad news keeps coming.  Churches, I pointed out yesterday, will feel the fallout from this economic meltdown.  But, is there an upside?  Not to trivialize the situation, but yes, I think there is an upside for churches in this economic turndown.

  1. Churches will be forced to focus.  We’re cutting our church budget this year by about 10%.  To do that, we have to look carefully at what is really important to our mission and message.  That kind of attention and discipline will make us more effective in ministry.
  2. People will turn to churches for help.  Plan now for ways to help those who need money for utilities, food to feed their families, and warm coats for the cold winter.  This preparation must go beyond the typical food pantry, clothes closet that most churches have, although those can be a good starting point.  
  3. Communities will pull together.  When Katrina hit, our church called together the entire community to discuss ways we might help.  People want to help others, and churches can unite the community in that effort.
  4. Church can demonstrate an alternative to the consumer society.  If church is an alternative community living out the message of Christ, what better example is there than living out an alternative to the current consumerist approach that drives the global economy.  Generosity, hospitality, sharing, sacrificing, giving, saving, stewardship of resources are all attributes of a Christian lifestyle.  
Is this economic downturn good?  Not in my opinion because lots of real people will lose savings, retirement accounts, their homes, and their jobs.  But, churches can become a powerful force in the months, and possibly years, it will take to recover from the current turmoil.  This will not go away quickly according to most experts.  Churches can make a difference.  What about yours?