If you search for the word "hope" through Google, you will find many Barak Obama presidential campaign posters. Ironic, isn't it, that the last campaign was won on the theme of hope but so much hope has been diminished in recent years?
The Organizational Development Muse
Churches, denominations and non-profits are all stuck in the same economic mud as businesses, people saving for retirement, or those living on fixed incomes. With extremely low interest rates, traditionally safe investments (savings accounts, bank certificates of deposit and money market accounts) do not make enough money to keep up with inflation. Thus, investing in what are usually considered safe vehicles actually cause long-term devaluation of savings because of inflation’s modest, but upward trend. For instance, what cost $10,000.00 in 1980 cost $26,110.95 in 2010--a 3.2% average annual percentage rate.
Unfortunately, most savings account rates are 1/300th of that right now, and most CDs don’t get over 1% without having quite a bit of money in for a long time. This means that the real dollar value of investments in such instruments is declining faster than interest can be added to make up for inflation.
The congregation I pastored in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, was the first in the city to develop a latch-key program, including tutoring. Our then 1980′s neighborhood was one where many children were not allowed to come inside until the street lights came on–regardless of the weather. The result was that our church parking lot was often filled by children with almost nowhere to go. Our Sunday evening services often brought unexpected guests in the forms of elementary age children looking for something to do. We did not have to work hard to consider how we might work to meet human need in the name of Christ.
The most innovative ministry and non-profit programs begin this way. A group of leaders step outside and begin looking for needs that might be addressed. Anyone who puts on glasses like these does not need to look far before the ideas literally present themselves. Attend a Willow Creek prevailing church conference and you will hear the story of knocking on doors to find out what would bring people to church who thought they might never attend. Visit a Ministry of Money retreat and you will hear that the origins grew from people looking for a way to help people (especially affluent ones) deal with the money in their lives. Read the history of the Salvation Army and you will read about Christian people searching the streets for people to help. The underlying theme of these and many other stories is that someone(s) took the time to figure out what was needed.