Saturday, 10 January 2009

Facing the Downturn

(Article for this month's Voices magazine)

The Church is called to:

  • Proclaim the good news of the kingdom
  • Respond to human need by loving service
  • Seek to transform unjust structures of society

(From the Five Marks of Mission)

It would be hard to have missed the fact that the past year has not been a good one for the global economy. A 'credit crunch' has become a 'slowdown' and looks likely to become a recession. The value of our savings is going down, costs are rising and our debts are increasing. Long established companies have already gone to the wall and people are loosing their jobs. Woolworths has disappeared from CMK...

While all this has been going on, life for the churches has been continuing much as before.  Although we have our own long term worries about money and deployment, on the whole the problems of the wider economy haven't affected us much, yet...

I think there's a danger that churches will drift through the recession, or even provide a 'safe' space where these issues don't get mentioned - after all it can be a bit depressing to have too much gloomy talk about money...

On the other hand, we are called to proclaim Good News, respond with loving action and seek to transform the unjust structures of society. I therefore think we have a duty to think, act and speak out during the difficulties that the next few years may bring...

The response of the churches must be carefully considered and based on real facts. There's no point offering solutions to problems that don't exist. Before we do anything else we need to find out what it really going on and what problems the people of Milton Keynes are likely to face over the next few years. To help this happen, the Mission Partnership Exec has asked a small group to do a bit of research. They're going to speak to some of the experts and authorities in the city and think about the advice that we can give to churches: what's going on? What problems are people likely to face? What can churches do in their local area? What could we do together?

I know that this is an issue that is already affecting many of our church members and I would really appreciate any data or anecdotal information that you can give us at this point. It would really be useful for us to know what's really going on so that we can think seriously about what we could all do to help.

Many thanks - Tim Norwood

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