...“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Friday Q & A #45
As an Elder Council and staff, what do you make of the global economic crisis (e.g. in Greece), especially as it may be a prelude to America's financial demise? Our unfunded government entitlement programs make our economy exponentially worse over time. How might Bethlehem adjust its budget & ministries in light of this reality?
Just a few years ago, we experienced America’s most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930’s: the 18-month “Great Recession” from late 2007 through mid-2009. By God’s grace, Bethlehem continued to grow and minister effectively during that period, and rode out the financial storm well:
2007: Church & Missions (C&M) contributions of $7.243M were within $9K of C&M expenses
2008: C&M contributions of $7.972M were within $3K of C&M expenses
2009: C&M contributions of $8.731M exceeded C&M expenses by almost $300K
One of the means that God uses to help Bethlehem be wise in managing our resources is our team of Financial and Property Administrators (“FPAs”), chaired by Dan Lehn. This team meets monthly to monitor Bethlehem income and expenses, and recommends appropriate spending adjustments throughout the year, if and when they are needed.
Pray for wisdom when the FPAs meet (usually the 3rd Thursday of each month), and pray for Bethlehem’s continued effectiveness in ministry to hurting neighbors and the nations, whether economic times are good or bad.
As for gloomy predictions about America’s financial demise, or government entitlement programs, the Elder Council has not invested time to make official statements on those subjects, though we invite our people as individuals to be fully engaged in the public square. Whether in government finance, personal finance, or institutional finance, it behooves all of us to understand biblical principles of economics, including the following:
- Stewardship—God owns everything
- Subordinate ownership—God assigns property to various individuals to manage
- Proportionality between labor and rest
- Wealth is created by offering goods and services; ingenuity and frugality multiply opportunity
- Labor is a pre-Fall enterprise, corrupted and made difficult by the Fall
- Diligence prepares for winter
- The laborer deserves his wages
- Vocation is under the sovereignty of God
- Wealth is incredibly alluring, dangerously so
- The “have’s” are to help the “have not’s”
- Borrower is servant to the lender
Things like that.