Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

A Pastoral Strategy for Hard Times: What Is the Responsibility of Churches? and Where Is God in All This?

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

A Pastoral Strategy for Hard Times: What Is the Responsibility of Churches? and Where Is God in All This?

Article excerpt

Many Americans are angry about this financial crisis, angry about a rescue plan that seems to bail out Wall Street more than them, and frustrated with the lack of clear solutions being offered by politicians. But underneath the anger, there is a deeper level of fear in America right now. I am hearing that fear across the country. How will this affect me and my family? What will happen to my retirement funds, to the college account for my kids, to the value of my home? Am I going to lose my home or even my job? As the immediate crisis turns into a longer and deeper recession, these questions will only increase. A continued rise in unemployment and foreclosures, along with shrinking investments and credit, will bring more pain to ordinary Americans.

Recently on CNN a financial consultant reported that some of her clients are already living in their cars. I could feel the fear gripping many Americans. A friend of mine, a financial planner now engaged in intense daily conversations with his clients, left me a simple voicemail--"Pray for me."

It's not often that most Americans are worrying about the same thing at the same time. The last time might have been just after 9/11. But it is increasingly clear that most Americans are focused on the same thing right now. The collapse of Wall Street, the deepening economic recession (the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression), and the clear threat of another depression have become the overriding loci of public conversation. Every other issue is perceived as a distraction.

For Christians, there are deeper questions that should be asked: What is a Christian response to a deepening economic crisis like this? What should people of faith be thinking, saying, and doing? What is the responsibility of the churches to their own parishioners, to their communities, to the nation, and to the world? And where is God in all this?

WHAT DOES THE Bible say about the issues now being raised? What does our theology tell us about money and possessions, wealth and power, credit and responsible financial choices, economic values and family values, lifestyle and stewardship, generosity and justice, personal and social responsibility? What can Christian economists tell us about economic philosophy, the role of the market and its relationship to democracy, the role of government, the place of social regulation, the spiritual consequences of economic disparities, the moral health of an economy, and the criteria of the common good?

What do pastors, lay leaders, activists, and practitioners say about creative opportunities and new solutions that could come out of all of this--such as the possibilities of mutual aid, congregational and community credit unions, and new cooperative strategies for solving problems such as health care, housing, and jobs? How could creative church-based economic alternatives also serve the poor'? Pastors will need help with preaching resources for a time like this, and local congregations will need adult Sunday school curricula on money and all the related issues of this economic crisis. …

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