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Saturday, March 7, 2009

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

I was driving into work the other day, and I was listening to my local NPR station for most of the trip. (I used to always listen, but beginning the first of the year I have been using most of that time to pray and listen to the Bible on CD.) There was a local story about churches and non-profits facing hard economic times. Believe me, I understand that to be true.

This past Sunday I spoke at Faith Community Church in Waxhaw. I don't get to speak much since I gave up my teaching and pulpit ministry to work developing Common Heart Missional Community. It was a very small crowd. The choir was most excellent. One testimony in particular was rousing as the brother shared that his shift/department at work has had no cut backs or lay offs. All co-workers were wondering how that team is being spared. My brother's answer, "This department has someone praying." As I sat through the service I wondered if I should share what I had planned.

Yesterday, I listened to this verse in Proverbs, it stood out. Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. - Proverbs 19:17 I hate to sound so unspiritual, but the Lord is a bank that will not fail! He will repay. Over at Commmon Cupboard Journal there is a virtual food drive going on. Anyone want to lend to the Lord ... Let me here an "AMEN".

Rahm Emanuel said recently in describing US President Barrack Obama's aggressive legislative agenda, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." (WSJ)

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit." John 20:21-22 ESV

These thoughts really do tie together. Give me a minute. I think I can do it in the next paragraph ...

We as followers of Jesus have been sent on a mission by Jesus. It is the same mission that Jesus received from the Father. It also needs to be fulfilled in a similar way. After Jesus told the disciples this he also breathed on them and gave them a command to receive the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I think we as Jesus followers, and especially as "church people & leaders", we get distracted by many things. We forget that Jesus organized his whole movement around his mission. Especially when times are good, we get distracted.

When times get rough the natural inclination is to withdraw and protect. I know that in the current economic crisis I have pulled back spending, tried to pay off more debt, been more aware of my boss's moods , and have certainly prayed more for my family and other families I know that they are having it tough.

Strangely enough I think that these harder times can cause us to be even more distracted from the mission of Jesus and his Church. Even as many churches and non-profits are experiencing difficulties and as members of our congregations are experiencing the same ...I think it might be time for a "Missional Stimulus Package" .

Many churches are reducing their financial support of missionaries. Many are focusing inward. I think what we need is to spend our treasures, talents and time changing our structures and focus outward, not hoarding them on programs and projects inside our church walls.

I thank God for my job. I thank God that he answers prayers and has kept my brother's whole shift and department from having hours and jobs cut. It excites me to hear these things. BUT, I can't help but thinking about the other departments and the other shifts, indeed the workers in my own company that lost their jobs when one of our plants was closed.

I can't help but think that the words of Rahm Emanuel might apply to our churches, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Indeed this may be a serious crisis. But, just maybe it might be the exact right time to rethink, repent, reprioritze, restructure and reorientate all that we do as the Church of Jesus Christ. Maybe it is time for a "Missional Stimulus Package" that will energize and reinvigorate us to look beyond ourselves and our problems, and give ourselves more fully to God's mission out there in our hurting communities, neighborhoods, and places of employment.

What form could this package take?

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