Archive for the ‘ Suburban Missionary ’ Category

Financial predictions Redux

I just want to drop a few predictions so I can point back to them when they happen.

Al_Capone

Al_Capone

One piece of trivia I have always loved is that Al Capone’s business card said he was a second hand furniture salesman. I thought that was silly because who buys second hand furniture. Well, I believe we are coming to a time where we will see a revival in this type of business, where we would rather buy used high quality goods than spend too much money on new cheap goods.

My parents were born into a family that had lived through the Great Depression and they, like many of their peers, have traits associated with people who lived through such a hard time. They hold onto everything; their cupboards are full of plastic containers that they use to store leftovers. Why spend money on Tupperware when it comes with your butter?

I think for real lasting change to take place our culture is going to have to go through a similar paradigm shift in how we live. I have found myself thinking about purging items from my home thinking that if I need them again I can buy them but it may be better to hold on to things and find a use for them than to spend the money.

I predict the return of second hand furniture stores, a reduction in eating out and many more habits associated with the “wartime” lifestyle. I would already encourage Christians to do such a thing in order to promote the kingdom of God. Heather and I have looked at our life, but perhaps not deeply enough, in an effort to reduce our consumption and the waste we have in our life. We do this not only to improve our quality of life but to reduce our need for money in the event that God calls us to do something else. I want to do something for the Gospel and I don’t want my love or money to hole me back.

I also predict the next bubble to burst will be the education bubble. For years the government has been throwing money at people to get a degree. A lot of people are over their head in debt with little or nothing to show for it. They are unable to get jobs that pay well enough to pay off their loans. When the government starts giving away money toward something it becomes quickly overpriced because the “free money” increases the demand. College education has become far to expensive.

I have already talked a little about how the financial situation we find ourselves in could be good for the Gospel as a whole but I believe it could be got at a more granular level as well.

Last week I wrote a little on our financial woes but I wanted to look on the other side.  You know in this time of financial trouble it is easy to loose track of important matters in our panic.  It is very possible that if we do things right, the church of Christ could truly thrive in the midst of trouble.

One of the founding factors in this trouble has been increasing energy costs.  That means that everything is going to be more expensive and that includes the huge mega churches that we have been building.  I don’t think we are going to see an increase in their number because they are simply going to be priced out of existence.   But that isn’t necessarily bad news; it means we are going to have to adjust to new ways of doing things.

I believe one of the reasons the Bible doesn’t give any prescriptions on how the church should operate is because God knew it would have to thrive in many cultures throughout the ages.  I think we will have some great advantages if we take advantage of them.

1. We can eliminate some of the more useless programs that simply attract the “Serve us” instead of the Service Christian.

Let’s face it as an organization we have tried every marketing ploy and outrageous idea in order to attract people to the church.  Some have been affective but most have been laughable.  Now maybe we will be forced back to the basics.

2. Smaller organizations

I have spoken many times about the benefit of smaller organizations but it never hurts to do it again.  We may actually be able to build community in smaller churches with more ease.  Less wasted money because there will be less to waste.

Small organizations have a higher percentage of involvement.  When you can’t simply pay someone to do the work the leader’s job really becomes “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,”

3. No more prosperity

False prosperity gospels had an easy time flourishing in the soil of our rapidly rising economy but when things are turning around I think it will cause people to be a little more discerning.

4. Building Community

I have touched on it a little but I believe our economic times have helped us to ignore one another.  My child hood home didn’t have Air conditioning and my mom used to sit out front and so did the rest of the neighbor hood we would talk to each other.  If we actually turn the AC up and have to go out side it might be nice.

Or it may be difficult to go out on the town so we may have to have people over for an evening; there is something much different about inviting people into your home.  Let us not forget how the gospel was spread from house to house in the early church.

Heather and I have recently taken a friend into a spare room in our house, she needed a place to stay and we had a room.  It seemed only right that we offered her our spare room it wasn’t quite a necessity but who knows it may be depending on how bad things get.

We can’t always do what has always worked but we can always find new ways of doing things for the sake of the Gospel.

Saturday I helped one of my best and longest term friends move out of Ohio, he has moved on to take a position as Youth Pastor. At his house I met a girl named Stephanie who works with my friends wife. Was that clear as mud? Anyway Stephanie moved down here alone and left her kids with her parents until she can get settled. Since she was waiting for a pay check she said she had just put her last money in her gas tank. Well it turns out that Stephanie lives less than two miles from our house. Did I mention she had only been here a month, known my friend for a month and was already helping with a move?

I shared this story with Heather and we took some of our ‘missions’ money and bought her a gift card to a local grocery store so she could get some food and gas if she needed it. When we brought it before our house church for prayer, people started throwing money at me. Which was not what I had expected but was wonderful because we were able to give her a greater gift. Well Monday we couldn’t get to her house because Heather wasn’t feeling well. So tonight we made a point to go by her house after I got off of work only to find she wasn’t home. We wrote a simple note reminding her who I was and telling her that we lived near by and want her to call us if she needed anything.

Well, we ran a few errands and then went back to see if she was home, we felt a little nervous just leaving a gift card at her house. She had just pulled up and we were actually able to talk to her. She was very thankful and almost ready to cry because of our gesture. We told her to call us and got her phone number to call her. I hope to invite her to house church or at least to our house so we can love her as Christ loves her and tell her the good news of Jesus. I hope I remember how to do that.

Strangers a Continuing Story.

A few months ago I talked about strangers in the Bible and I expressed a desire to do more for strangers but for some time I have ignored those desires, or found some good ‘reason to do so. Today that changed.

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Suburban Missionary II

I have decided to post an update on my effort to be a suburban missionary. Heather and I have talked at length about having a block party for our neighbors to get to know them all better but expressly to open the door to share the gospel. Well, I am unfortunately one of those people who will sometimes just talk and never do. Well this past weekend we started to do. We invited a few neighbors that we already have contact with and a few we really don’t.

It was a great success. We had 25 people over, two of which we didn’t know (It is really a party when people show up that you don’t know). We were able to really get to know a few of our neighbors that had hadn’t really talked to before.

There was even an opportunity to talk a little about the Gospel but that door wasn’t as open as I wished, but the opportunity is at least there.

I pray God will grant me the wisdom to proclaim the good news of his son to those who don’t know about it, or have been misinformed. I pray opportunities continue to arise so that he may be glorified. Please pray with me.

Suburban Missionary

“You feel called to Africa but you haven’t gone across the street” — Many Pastors across America.

I have heard the above quote many a times in my life from a preacher who is trying to convince people to witness to their neighbors. Although I have a great numbers of problems with modern evangelism techniques I am beginning to feel the heart of the preachers who have shouted this to their congregation.

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