Monday, September 29, 2008

What I'm going to say.

My personal Jedi Master, Dave, tends to blog about "what he should have said" after a weekend message. I thought I'd try that in reverse this week. I'm kicking off a new teaching series this weekend at VCC entitled "In God We Trust - how the church responds in a tough economy." This isn't what we planned on speaking about this month. However, sometimes certain issues arise in a culture that cannot be ignored by the church. A few weeks back I wrote a paragraph to narrow my thoughts for this week:

WEEK ONE: THE MISSION ISN'T IN RECESSION: The church is on a mission from God – to proclaim the reality and availability of the Kingdom of the Heavens, to love those far from God so much that they may consider his love for themselves, to freely and radically give away all that we have for the sake of Christ and Kingdom. The church cannot afford to take the two easy options in our current economic condition: 1.) To ignore the bad economy and preach na├»ve prosperity or 2.) To acknowledge the problem and cowardly shrink away from the mission. This is the time that the world needs the church to be the church - to stand up, offering hope in practical and impractical ways. This means that we as individuals should align ourselves with Kingdom economic practices and fully trust God to provide for his people.

That's about all I have so far. I've been reading a lot of early church teachings on economic issues - the Didache, the Shepherd of Hermes, Augustine, etc. I've been wrestling with Jesus' call to radical economics in the gospels. I've also noticed that Acts, James and Revelation all take Jesus' teachings in subtly different directions. This stuff isn't new for me to think about. I was profoundly influenced long ago by Stanley Hauerwas and John Howard Yoder in regard to my Kingdom economics. I've been re-reading their stuff and enjoying the current essays at www.ekklesiaproject.org. (A highly recommended site/cyber community btw.)

So, this week feel free to wrestle along with me. How would you use 30 minutes to broach this subject with thousands of people ranging from raging skeptics to seasoned saints? What big issue stirs in your heart when you think about these things? What Bible stories or truths come to your mind? Do we need a call to courage or a call to understanding or both? Comment away and maybe we can figure this one out together this week...

12 comments:

Jennifer said...

Joe, I think this topic is SO important! What you have so far is really powerful. Recently, the youth pastor at my sisters church was let go because the giving has been so low at church they aren't able to pay his salary. FEAR in this unsettled economy has people grasping their tithe...unwilling to trust the Lord. What is the effect? Well, in this example, the future leaders at this church. I am really looking forward to your message!! P.S. We really miss hearing you speak each week!

Dan Kalbach said...

Great thoughts.

I believe that spiritual vitality does not follow economic trends. In my opinion, if the stock market goes up, people do not race to find this Jesus. In fact, I believe the opposite is true. Time and time again in the gospels, it's the folks who are down and out, in dire circumstances, that recognize their need for the Christ.

I think God is using the current economic disaster to till the American spiritual soil.

Could be wrong, though.

Steve Fuller said...

I'm not a skeptic, of course, but if I was, here is what I would say about churches adjusting their teaching schedule to talk about the current financial crisis:

Churches are "afraid" people will stop tithing in order to pay their bills, so they will create a series to make sure the checks keep coming in.

Not that the Vineyard would do that, of course, but for the skeptics in the audience, the idea might creep into their thoughts.

The Lubbers Family said...

Joe,
I just read Malachi 3:10 today. It's a good one for what you're talking about I think. But I must say that growing up catholic, whenever anyone even mentions money in church I cringe. I always just thought the church wanted my money and it sounded like begging. I don't feel this way anymore, but I can see how someone who doesn't know the Lord may react to talking about money in church. I think this will be a really applicable series! I just wish someone would say, "It's not like we're asking for your money here. Give your money to someone else if you think that's what God wants you to do! Go hand it out to homeless people, or give to a shelter!"

Ima said...

I'd like to hear how the church can really jump to the lead in the world when there is a crisis, not how it can fall in line. Just thinking back on some crises in the world in my relatively short lifetime, it seems that the American church has always finally done something only after she saw that "the world" was outshining her. This is probably a narrow view of things as there are always quiet Christians serving out of the public eye but here are a couple of examples.

When there was a huge famine in Africa, "secular" (hate that word here) artists joined together to raise money for famine ravaged Ethiopia with a song called "We Are the World." After it became a huge hit, contemporary Christian artists got together and did "Do Something Now."

The church was not silent during the American AIDS crisis of the 1980s-90s. It was generally reputed to have a "you got what's coming to you" mentality. Only after 25 years of AIDS and a growing worldwide epidemic where it is finally recognized that AIDS happens to everyone, did the church, with leaders like Rick Warren, start to speak up on helping people with AIDS. When it was unpopular, scary and seen as possibly loving gays, the church, at large, did nothing.

So Joe, can you talk about how the church can be salt and light without first waiting to see what the popular sentiment of current reigning culture is? How about causing a wind to blow instead of waiting to see which direction it is blowing?

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

I find that the ethics of Jesus on wealth are the outworking of the wilderness experience: there's enough manna on the ground for each day so that God's people learn to trust his promise instead of their hoarding ability. For comfy Americans living in the boom years that started with the taming of inflation in 1982, a downturn like this one can actually test whether we believe such a thing.

For what it's worth . . .

Jim said...

if you quote malichi i think i will puke.

I think you need to focus on jesus. what did jesus say about money?

jesus said a lot about money.

what did jesus say about money?

I am repeating myself for a reason.

Jim said...

Higgledy-Piggledy is the vineyard
glitsy
new gimmick each month


ralph's left a long time ago when we left the old building.
holy spirit - saw the toronto vineyard there once. remember a dog getting slain in the spirit, thats kind of joke, had to be there.

random blogger said...

i've been at VCC for not quite a year and I'm not sure what to think of Jim's comments. don't know if there is some kind of joke that i woudn't know about or some sarcasm directed toward someone. anyway...my interest Joe, is to study and understand Christ principles and teaching for my life, not to assume there are these overarching rules for groups of people to follow. i can only focus on myself and my own "log" and learn stewardship for myself. i have a distain for the christian community that creates a sub culture in order to direct the whole. we have people like dobson to thank for that. you have a large task Joe. may the HS direct and bless you. thanks for your work.

bshawise said...

jim, i'm nervous that you are being held against your will by someone and they're forcing you to attend the vineyard. blink twice if that's the case. i'll call the cops and alert them.

Ryan Detzel said...

Craziness...I'm teaching at Vineyard Westside this weekend on the subject of Destiny relating to Luke 4 - I feeling pressed to talk about our need to band together in community and be different in this time of financial uncertainty.

Hmm.

Jim said...

not being held against my will, i have an opinion i express, right or wrong, if you want to judge me make sure you do not have that log in your eye. I guess you will be judged by your words and so will I.

I think money will be scarce in the coming year and not sure where all this expansion luke 4 is going to put us at the vineyard.

I guess we need a mini city to hold church versus how they did it in acts and how jesus did it.

Maybe we should just sell everything and give it to the poor. maybe i should, I think joe will probably just get up there and quote malichi.

As a side note, I think the vineyard has given up on its roots, look up Lonnie Frisbee. I wonder about all the signs and wonders that seems to be shuttled in the back room and not in the main service. Are we afraid of the holy spirit? More concerned about money? Is not what this discussion will point out this weekend? If the focus is on money and not the holy spirit then its about money and not God.

Like the good book says you can not serve manna or money and God at the same time.