By Mark A. Taylor
I was visiting with a seasoned minister at a leadership meeting not long ago. As is usual these days, talk went to the difficult economy. But he quickly said, “This is really a time of great opportunity for the church,” squelching any negative comment I might have made.
“Oh, yes, of course,” I answered. And then I thought about our Get Your Hands Dirty emphasis this year and all the stories we’re running about churches making a difference in their communities and with those in need around the world. I was a little sheepish he had to point this out to me.
His words came back to me a few days later when contributing editor Ben Cachiaras sent us the manuscript from a talk he made to the staff where he ministers, Mountain Christian Church, Joppa, Maryland. Like many congregations, Mountain had to make cutbacks to bring expenses in line with giving. Ben described them as “pervasive and widely felt.”
But his message to the staff echoed the encouragement of my minister friend. He said the cutbacks provide an exciting opportunity for their leadership and for the whole church’s ministry. “This is a time for creativity,” he told them. “We will realize we can survive without things we thought we had to have.”
That was one of 10 points in his speech. Others:
“This is a time for pastoral care—ministering to people who are hurting, in need, and gripped by new fears and uncertainty.”
“This is a time for teaching. . . . People who may have slept through the last three sermon series on ‘giving’ will suddenly be interested in learning about God’s design for financial management.”
“This is a time of promises: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart’ (Proverbs 3:5). The Hebrew for trust there means to cling tenaciously. As leaders of this church we don’t know where the economy is going. . . . But we will show what it means to cling to God in trust with all our hearts, . . . knowing that if we do this, God will direct our paths.”
Today Christians everywhere are celebrating the ultimate reason to trust God. He has conquered our greatest enemy, death, and the sin that makes us fear it. With those problems solved, we can find the strength to weather a bad economy—and the motivation to bless others who still need to share our hope.
Thanks to contributing editor Ben Cachiaras who gave us permission to quote from his presentation and post the whole manuscript at our Web site. Find it there this week.