Much of America’s economic expansion over the past 30 years was based on consumerism and people spending more than they earned, based on unprecedented “optimism” in an expanding economy.
As we all know, the bubble burst in 2008. And no matter who you blame, and there’s lots of blame to go around, ultimately, it’s an opportunity for believers in Jesus to turn from America’s cultural obsession with the newest, biggest, most prestigious “stuff” and take a fresh look at biblical values as a foundation for our lifestyles and our economics.
This “Great Recession,” as painful as it continues to be for many people, can be a significant turning point, at least for Christians.
One of my dearest friends lost his business during these difficult times. Instead of letting that defeat slow him down, he went into a career in education. Working hard, with a great attitude, he is now the dean of a large charter school network. And most remarkably, this career is far more satisfying on many levels than what he was doing previously.
Right here at Masterworks, a young staff person got upside down in his mortgage. While he needs to sell the house and move closer to the office for his family’s sake and to reduce commuting costs, he refuses to walk away and let the bank assume his liability. When their house does sell, this young family man is determined to rent something until they can get into the right house in the right place and with the right payment.
Another friend has watched his business cut staff by 80%. He figures the stock he owns in this company is now worthless. Yet, because he had no debt, he has been able to absorb a 50% cut to his annual salary. The late Larry Burkett would have been proud. He spent his life urging Christians to avoid debt and live below their means for two reasons: so we could absorb unexpected events and so we could give more for the Kingdom.
These are just three examples of how the “Great Recession” is driving Christians back to more careful, biblical, and Kingdom-focused personal economics.
We should take the opportunity to capture this moment for our donors by affirming the biblical economics of “first fruits giving,” (Exodus 22:29 and Deuteronomy 26:1-4, 9-11) “giving out of need rather than abundance” (2 Corinthians 8:3-5) and “trusting God for our security” (Job 31:24-28 and Luke 12:13-21). They probably won’t get that from other ministries.
By infusing those kinds of messages into your communications and fundraising projects, you will set your ministry apart from the “secular” pundits who are longing for a return to life as we knew it before 2008. But an economy based on greed, lust and scandalous overspending is not a destination for our nation, our world, and certainly not our Christian brothers and sisters.
By affirming the lessons Christians have learned in the “Great Recession,” we can build communities of donors who are less influenced by the winds of the stock market and more guided by the solid foundation of scriptural values. This could be a great opportunity to set yourself apart as the ministry that really understands the heart of Jesus for His people. Distinguish yourself as promoting Kingdom-grounded stewardship principles instead of the latest marketing gimmicks.
With the eyes of Joseph, we can look at the “Great Recession” with the attitude, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good . . .” (Genesis 50:20)