Saturday, October 11, 2008

Skin in the game

What a ride this past week! In other times of market turmoil, I was several steps removed. I did not own big investment portfolios or have big risk exposure. When storms came through our community (snow, ice and tornadoes in Minnesota and fire in California) the victims were selective. Katrina was far away from California, and Iraq affected friends of friends, my cousin a surgeon and the fiance of a prospective bride.
As a pastor I try to speak into situations that confront us as a whole; sometimes directly and other times obliquely. Whether it's addictions of the various forms or infidelity, whether it's the devaluation of life (from abortion to abuse, to enslavement of women or trafficking of blood diamonds) or the creeping idolatry of affluence. Sometimes I "hit the mark" and other times I miss it by a mile.
But this week, we all have skin in the game. No sector of the community is immune. College students worry about getting student loans for next semester or parents' ability to pay tuition out of investment funds. Senior citizens in Covenant Retirement Communities worry about the health of their portfolios that fund the monthly fees. The Covenant (and I'm sure other denominations) worry about how many people will outlive their finances and need to go on free care. We sold our home at the high season moving here and invested the funds in a conservative and balanced bunch of funds. My advisor told me that if I'm not in need of the money right now, don't open the mail and be still.
As church budgets near year-end, often we anticipate year-end gifts out of stock or bonuses to fill out the gap between income and expenses. As churches build budgets for 2009, what assumptions do leaders bring to the table this year? What is the line between holy boldness and fiscal foolishness?
And as I read from Eugene Cho's blog about "Q" Church in Seattle, where we will step in alongside those who are really hurting, on the street and busted? Is this a time for us as churches to be far less concerned about our own financial survival but turn our eyes and checkbooks outward?
This time we are all in the storm together. But that is a great place to be spiritually, one with the community. We are going to do theology together. Will we do it well?


At 6:55 AM , Anonymous francis said...

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