Bread lines and tent cities

 I’ve been writing about the coming, and now present, economic crisis since last year (here, here, and here).  Popular financial advisor, Suze Orman, speaking on Anderson Cooper’s show tonight, said that the economy is in “intensive care” right now and will be for a year to 18-months.  Then, she continued, we’ll be in the “hospital” for another year or two, and then we’ll move to “rehab” for a couple of years.  Bottom line:  we’re looking at 5-years of decline, struggle, rebuilding, and finally recovery.  Five years.  

When asked if this means “bread lines” or something else, Orman said, “It could mean bread lines.”  Wow.  She went on to add that some who are calling in to her show are already living in their cars.  In America.  In 2008.  And, it will get worse. 

My question is:  Are church leaders paying attention?  I read a lot of blogs, both on my feed and browsing.  Several have made comments about the presidential election, the debates, or hot-button cultural issues.  Very few — I found only one today — are addressing the current economic meltdown.  Shouldn’t somebody be giving churches advice, guidance, and help through these rough economic times?  Shouldn’t we in churches be thinking about how our churches will help our communities during the next 5 years?  

Of course, this stuff isn’t attractive.  It isn’t about growing our churches.  It distracts us from parsing arcane theological positions or running off to the next conference.  But, this crisis is unprecedented, pervasive, and pernicious.  This is not “the-sky-is-falling” alarm.  The sky has fallen, and now we have to figure out how we will function in this new global economic mess we find ourselves in.  What are you doing?  What conversations are you having at your church?  I’d be interested to know.

7 thoughts on “Bread lines and tent cities”

  1. I think you’re right on target here. The sky has fallen, and the lines are forming. But I think that 21st Century bread lines will form outside our churches for food ministries, clothes closets, etc.

    About 6 weeks ago (a timing I believe to have been Providential!) we became a host site for Angel Food Ministries ( When we started the process of applying, I had no idea that we would experience the response we have had. I knew that it would provide our small church a platform for ministry to our neighborhood and beyond, but I had no clue the impact it would have. The stories we are hearing from the folks who are ordering, who are calling, and who come to pick up the food are heart-wrenching.

    It’s not a hand out. It’s a pre-paid supplemental food (grocery) service. Folks order boxes of food, it is shipped once a month to local churches that are the host sites that distribute the food. It provides an opportunity for volunteers at the local church to build relationships with the folk who order. And it allows these folks to stretch their food dollar further.

    Angel Food fell on us. We’re not smart enough to figure it out on our own. But my advice to any church of any size that is looking to have a long-term, meaningful impact on their community is to look into Angel Food Ministries.

    Is it perfect? No. It’s labor intensive. We’re scrambling to recruit volunteers to handle the numbers of callers and orders that are coming in. But do I think it can provide a local church an opportunity to minister in needed ways in these tight economic times? Absolutely.

    That’s what our small church is doing.

  2. Chuck, as ever, this is a great post.

    It’s a lot more fun to discuss theology and such, but there are times — such as now — that we need to roll up our sleeves and take the love of Christ out to the world.

    You’re ahead of me on this point, and I’m seeing the error of my thoughts … thanks.

    By the way, have you ever considered participating in the Christian Carnival? I love this blog, and I think that a number of the other participants would, too. Just a thought.

  3. Chuck,
    You are right this is concerning. Thanks for mentioning my blog. We have just posted out ezine on recession preparedness on the Mustard Seed website Lots of resources and suggestions but like you we are concerned because we can find few that are posting ideas about how to help. I think that the best prepared for this crisis are the Mormons who have a history of preparing their people to deal with all kinds of crises.

  4. Hey Chuck,

    This is a something we need to talk about as believers. But maybe we need to discuss it on a deeper level then just how we make it through it. I believe, in many ways, prosperity has made us bankrupt spiritually. Most Americans believe in God, believe Jesus died on the cross for their sins and even that He is coming again. But their beliefs aren’t reflected in their walk. I firmly believe that God’s mercy is demonstrated to us sometimes when we go through difficult things because it causes us to trust in Him more than in our jobs, salaries or 401k’s.

    Food for thought!

  5. “Shouldn’t we in churches be thinking about how our churches will help our communities during the next 5 years?

    Of course, this stuff isn’t attractive. It isn’t about growing our churches.”

    But this is exactly what will grow our local church as well as the heavenly church. This in my opinion is exactly what God has called us to do. When we reach out to help those hurting, we not only run the “risk” of growing the local church, but who knows what impact it will have later in their life.

  6. Hi Chuck,

    Great blog! I came across it trying to find some confirmation for my serious and dire view of the wreckage made of our economy by Congress and the Return on Equity executives.

    I explain on my website,, what the problem really is — another variant of the leveraged bubble — and how it can be corrected while maintaining the discipline of the market and without painting ourselves into a corner with debt. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get my message heard.

    Perhaps you can help me spread the word. For my part, I am finishing up revisions of the second edition of my political economics book. News of that will also be on my website, as will my other work in solving the problem of poverty. We may always have the poor with us, those with less than their neighbor, but we need never have had poverty nor hunger with us.

    In Love and Peace,
    Carl Peter Klapper

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