I've spent several days now listening to MPR going on about the bailouts. And for good reasons. This is a big deal. It seems we're witnessing the collision of several factors -- among them are a twisted-up economy, a prolonged war, greed, corporate dishonesty, and poor leadership. But, I believe, the most devastating and longstanding reason is an utter failure of imagination in these corporations that led to their inability to adjust their structure to changes in the world around them. Consider that the big 3 auto makers have consistently invested in SUVs and large engine models despite the fact that demand points toward smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles.
And now these industries are coming to Congress, to the American people, asking for a bailout. But are they going to change their business model? Will their infrastructure be transformed to overcome these factors that led to the present situation. Or, are we simply propping up a system that is ultimately unsustainable?
Is it a stretch to think that this parallels what has been happening in our church? Congregations that were formerly flourishing -- and are still located in well-off neighborhoods -- are now floundering. We are living in a post-denominational, post-Christian world where participation and support for the nearby Christian church is not a given or even necessarily all that socially acceptable -- and yet our church budgets keep growing and growing.
And, in the midst of these -- and other -- factors, congregations come to their membership or the diocese and ask for more -- a bailout of sorts. If we just had more money to hire a youth minister...If we could just run ads in the paper...we need more congregational development
But where's the imagination? Where's the recognition that the world has changed, people's expectations and behaviors have changed, and we -- whether we are large industries or a church -- are failing to change with it? Are we behaving like these failed leaders in the auto and financial industries and just trying to prop up a system that will at some point inevitably collapse into itself?
We elected a president who ran on the banner of 'change'. The jury is still out on how much 'change' will actually occur. However, doesn't that point us to the fact that we as a society are crying out for something new, something creative, something that is sustainable, that brings us together.
Can't the church get over itself enough -- can't we be creative enough -- to be that in this world?