Numerous assessments about the economic condition of the United States abound. Furthermore it is also a condition affecting first, second and third world countries.
Many Americans feel that they are joining the rest of the world because they have anxieties over dependable income, home ownership, retirement plans, health care, debt loads, and college plans. Most people, however, are not yet moving down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to the basic level of safe shelter or adequate food and clothing.
While these needs are challenges for many of the world’s citizens, as well as the poor and homeless in our country, U.S. citizens appear to be worrying primarily about their loss of lifestyle.
Secular comments on our economy range from certain financial Armageddon to a challenging circumstance that is being resolved by people with good minds and great skills. Comments in the church arena are no less diverse.
I hear and read that “a bad economy is only in our heads” or “a facility-based, professional staff model of doing church is unsustainable.” Does the church in America feel as if it is joining the church in the rest of the world? Or are U.S. churches reaching for that uniquely American positive mental attitude that will make all things right again?
The world’s economy is in bad shape and America is not immune, nor are America’s Christians. So, what is the response? Back when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was above 14,000, giving may have been easier, maybe larger, but was it generous?
Now that the Dow remains below 9,000 and our brokerage accounts and retirement plans are down 25% to 50%, giving is not easier. Giving may be smaller or the same or maybe it is even larger, but now it can be generous. Current conditions may necessitate smaller gifts but generosity need never be reduced.
Now is a time for generosity. Now is a time for the witness of Christians who look realistically at the nation’s and world’s economies and decide to begin giving, to continue giving, or to find ways to give more. Now is a time to be the church and not just operate a church. Now is a time for churches to worry less about survival and to focus even more on mission. Now is a time to join the church, in the rest of the world. Now is a time to acknowledge reality and also to embrace faith, a faith that folks can see. Now is a time to be rich in good works. Now is a time for generosity.