SpiritFarmer


Church, Money, Future in the empire
April 24, 2008, 7:08 am
Filed under: Christendom, culture, globalization, missiology, money, theology

Well now, we’ve got us a good conversation going . . .

Chris Marshall connects some of the dots between the financial crisis that seems to be hitting the U.S. and the degree to which that reality will affect pastors and the church. 

How will this impact churches and mortgages and credit lines that can’t be fed? As builders pass on who are the committed givers what is left? 1/2 of boomers are there to give and the other 1/2 are driven past their financial margins with consumerism and can’t help. Gen X and Millenials have very little value in long term comittments, are all about instant gratification and consumerism is their native language.

Jason adds to Chris’ thoughts with some of his own. 

It’s true. We’ve got to start thinking long term about some of this. The trends do not seem to say that we can fend this off by building bigger, regional churches. Though there is limited success there, I don’t see it being a long term fix to a growing problem. I’ve said this before, but I really don’t think the experts have many answers for us. They have too much invested in the Christendom machine. So, it’s going to be up to the rank and file folks to come up with the solutions.

Read the post AND some excellent comments. 

Mike Bishop joins the fray:

One of the questions that I think needs to be raised in our church culture is not “Are we being successful?” but rather, “Is what we are doing sustainable?”

Read what Mike writes about what sustainability looks like.

Marshall strikes again, while the iron is hot:

I encourage students (high school or college) to get degrees in fields that can support them regardless of their ministry aspirations. Get your theological training from the church community and not to see ministry as a professional, but as a missional servant. From there let God lead you and provide for you in the context. I would suspect that within 10 years due to these emerging church trends and economic realities in America that the number of vocational pastors may decrease by as much as 50%.

 

Good conversations, for certain.

As I work with college students, I really resonate with Marshall’s advice to students.  It’s challenging to work with a young adult who is eager to pursue Kingdom living in her or his life, and wants to give her/himself fully to that in vocation – I want to encourage that, and stimulate it even more . . . but I have this gnawing in the back of my brain that says, “And what are you going to do ten years from now when the seminary degree you have your hopes set on isn’t worth anything in the job market, and you’ve got bills to pay?”  I don’t want to crush them, but I’ve known way too many pastors who have struggled to support their families financially because an MDiv doesn’t cut it in the business world. 

Some seminaries out there, including my own, have done a decent job of reshaping their academic curricula to be more responsive to what’s going on in the emerging culture.  I think they need to go another step or two farther – eliminate a church administration or preaching or Hebrew class requirement, and build in a sort of double major, so that they graduate with an MDiv AND an IT certification, or an accounting degree, or whatever.  Something that hints at marketability when they end up being bi-vocational anyway.

My other take on all this is that while many of us have woken up to the nightmare aftermath of Christendom, far fewer of us have woken up to the nightmare present of the empire we live under.  I’m not talking about the good ‘ol USA, either.  I’m talking about the global capitalistic machine – the one that transcends borders and languages, and law in a lot of cases.  The one that demands development, the creation of wealth, consumerism, and ultimately our souls.  The tricky part is that unless we just pick up and move outta Dodge to some farm in Nebraska where we can be completely “off the grid” (which, by the way, isn’t exactly missional), we are forced into participating in the machine.  There are tons of things to do to improve this scenario, but we need to start by helping more and more people realize what’s at stake.

The empire is cracking right now, and there may be dark days ahead.  But I don’t think that will last for long.  I think there are a ton of smart (and greedy) people who will figure stuff out eventually.  While we do struggle in the here and now, though, let’s remember that this represents a unique opportunity to live out a counter-cultural Kingdom reality.  Right now, when our wallets (and gas tanks) are empty, we have much less convincing to do when we talk about the lack of real hope that money and power provide.  We have the opportunity to live a joyful, free lifestyle, which shows where our dependence lies, where our true Hope lies.  And that’s where we live out our faith – the kind of faith that is

“being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Even while we may have bills to pay in this empire, we can think of it in terms of “rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”  But if our allegiance is to a government of a different order, and the King of that domain, then we live a life of freedom, indeed.

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6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

spot on my friend. this issue is bigger than jobs, money, psychological identities, emotional identities, vocational issues etc. etc. it is still most basically about living and serving in the eternal kingdom and making sure that singular allegiance is not to pre-conceived idols but to the King alone.

peace,

Comment by cmarsh

I would agree about having in seminaries a bi-vocaitonal aspect, but I don’t think you have to cut out a preaching requirement or a Hebrew requirement, just cut out the electives. I know at the seminary I’m at, the regular MDiv has like 15 or so elective hours. Just take those elective hours and turn them into something functional like a teaching certificate or something like that.

Comment by Michael

[…] Brother Evans elucidated in response, The Bishop pondered prophetically(?), Co-Conspirator Steve used the “E” word (as in “Empire”, of course), and Marshall expanded his thinking […]

Pingback by How then shall we live « aaron klinefelter

[…] Steve Lewis adds a sinister note: “…while many of us have woken up to the nightmare aftermath of Christendom, far fewer of us have woken up to the nightmare present of the empire we live under.  I’m not talking about the good ‘ol USA, either.  I’m talking about the global capitalistic machine – the one that transcends borders and languages, and law in a lot of cases.  The one that demands development, the creation of wealth, consumerism, and ultimately our souls.  The tricky part is that unless we just pick up and move outta Dodge to some farm in Nebraska where we can be completely “off the grid” (which, by the way, isn’t exactly missional), we are forced into participating in the machine…While we do struggle in the here and now, though, let’s remember that this represents a unique opportunity to live out a counter-cultural Kingdom reality.  Right now, when our wallets (and gas tanks) are empty, we have much less convincing to do when we talk about the lack of real hope that money and power provide.  We have the opportunity to live a joyful, free lifestyle, which shows where our dependence lies, where our true Hope lies.  And that’s where we live out our faith…” […]

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[…] and sustainability Who doesn’t like a good conversation about church and money?  Steve Lewis [spiritfarmer] and Jason Evans [a51t15] and a bunch of other folks have been conversing via their blogs about the […]

Pingback by church, money, and sustainability « beauty and depravity

[…] by mark vans (really, though, check out the entire conversation here, here, here, here again, here, and, finally, here). the crumbling empire we live in, with gas prices shooting up and talking […]

Pingback by sustainable church (or emerging into a postbourgeois world) « come underground




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