Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reflections from the city

In the past, when I have been to the city I have felt sort of a disconnect between the excesses and fast living and my own life. I have wondered who was out of step - me or them. But this weekend was different - and the change was startling. We had annual meeting of our church and finances were the topic of the day. The church has been mostly living on money in investments and of course we all know what has happened there.

There was faithful conversation about how to support ourselves when we are dependent on the giving of people who are being pinched and the interest from investments. How do you respond to people sinking financially while asking for money to continue the church? Of course there were no easy answers. At one point a hospital chaplain had to leave because a (formally) well to do man in town felt he had no more options left and was going to leap off a building.

We try and be green and so there were not fancy printed material as in the past. I found it a little difficult to respond to resolutions with just a projected screen and memory. An adjustment for sure but a far cry better than the cases of paper used in the past.

They did give each congregation a book called, "Three Simple Rules: A practical manual guaranteed to improve your finances" by Theo Boers. I haven't started it yet my Mr. Greenjeans has and says it is good - and simple. It looks as if it is written where most people live - not for those with a lot of money.

I stopped by a clothing sale at my favorite store and found it to be very quiet even with the sale. Of course it also seemed that prices had been jacked up.

In this community of bloggers, financial concerns and future scenarios have been the norm for a while. We are used to the conversation. Watching a bunch of main steam folks come to this place en masse was a little disconcerting. People are waking up to the notion that this might not be a market gyration but part of a longer term problem, and they don't know what to do about it. It is perhaps a little overdue, but I suspect those of us who have been thinking about this for a while may need to have in person conversations to those who have just looked up from the feed trough.


Anonymous said...

I am surprised it is hitting so soon for your area; here in Arizona it seems to be taking quite a while to actually affect us. The one thing I have noticed is that there are fewer illegals in our emergency rooms; I am not sure if it's because there are fewer jobs for them or if it is because of the new laws enacted in the last few months.

I have been a dedicated thrift store shopper for years but I too have noticed a distinct increase in the numbers of 'nice' cars parked in the parking lots of my local thrift stores. I wonder about the 'looking up from the feed trough' though. It seems to me from casual conversations with several and also with my coworkers that there is no understanding that this IS NOT TEMPORARY.

How does a church support itself in this changing economy? Will it ultimately mean the return of the home based church, with the pastor also having a vocation that pays the bills on top of his/her duties to the flock?

Verde said...

Yes, I forgot to say that I did go to a large thrift store in the city and noticed the same thing. I did get a work suit while I was there!

Wendy said...

I agree that the conversations need to be had. My problem is that I don't know how to start those conversations - or more importantly, how to progress them.

I'm reading Sharon Asytk's book Depletion and Abundance and it's a great book, but as I've already made the attitude shift, and taken many of the steps she recommends, it's rather like preaching to the choir ;). I just don't know how to get her ideas into other people's heads, short of giving them my book, and then the question becomes, to whom to I give the ONE book I have when there are so many people I know who are on the edge, but not quite there?

Ultimately, however, I have to agree with Tin Foil. I think most people don't believe we're heading into a "new" reality, and that the changes we are seeing aren't going to right themselves in the next decade. In short, this is NOT temporary, and the question is, how do we have THAT conversation without sounding like a complete lunatic?

Verde said...

Wendy, I know you are great about giving away books (having one of them) but I'm wondering if this book could go out on loan with the expressed notion that you have other folks you want to read it.

I sometimes just wonder out loud, "I wonder if this economy might a long, long time, I've read some economists that think so."

Tin foil: I did sound like a nut job at table conversation when I suggested just such a thing. It wasn't a popular comment as we have put many MILLIONS into updating our buildings to grow the churches and have clergy with fancy educations. snicker. Sometimes I think it might be a healthier way of doing church but then again I'd like to be Amish.