Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Doing Church in Economic Crisis

Howard Snyder suggests in his book Liberating the Church that 3 out of 4 churches should not own their own buildings. While I (Kevin) don't completely agree with this statement he bases the claim on some important aspects of being missional.

1. Inability to change with the community. Often churches that have a building, do so for a specific purpose, however the community changes and the resources that churches have tend not to change with it. A more flexible meeting place allows the church to mold itself to meet the needs of the community. To push back on this concept however, having rootedness in the community and shaping the community might damper the inability to change with the community.

2. Building plans and rennovations tend to divert funding. This is quite pertinent to churches now in the current economic crisis. Large building debts have hampered ministry effectiveness for the sake of being attractional rather than missional for some time. Now some churches are having to close down because their financial flexibility is ruined. This is the time when churches need to step in as the Acts church did and provide for those hurting around them, but instead they have to cut programs and govern with a tighter financial fist to keep afloat.

The church can see this time as a purging of the unnecessary and a refocus on really reaching out to the communities in which they reside. Families need help and hope. The church as Christ initiated is pitted to provide both and do so better than any politicking or policy might. It is a time to get our priorities more in line with the mission of God (missio dei) than with with the flexibility of doing church in our own power. While specific missions can vary from church to church, community to community, we all fall under the mission of God - to proclaim the Good News and to serve those whom the world rejectes.

The times are hard, especially for those in ministry, but it is a joyous time to be reframed and formatted for the mission of God. Trials and tribulations are opportunities says the Bible to mold our character. No doubt following God's mission requires greater reliance and trust on Jesus. As Christians, there is no greater time than now to cast off our fears, and join together as the Bride of Christ to follow after the call He has put on us.

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