No issue creates more tension in marriages these days than does money. A recent survey commissioned by American Express shows that it is the number one topic that couples fight about. It was cited three times as often as the next two items on the list, sex and children. More than 90 percent of the respondents said that they try to avoid talking about family finances with their spouse. Nearly a third say they have lied to their spouse about how much they spent on a purchase. (Research Alert, July 2, 2010)
Pastors can tell you that the economy puts a lot of wear and tear on marriages. It is another way in which the materialistic culture of America is at war with the followers of Jesus. And Princeton economist Paul Krugman reported last week that because national governments are giving in to political pressures, this is likely to become a long depression, the third significant Depression in the history of the last few hundred years. It will be more like the Long Depression that started in 1873 and lasted for more than a decade than the Great Depression of the 1930s, he says. He predicts that "tens of millions of unemployed workers ... will go jobless for years, and some ... will never work again." (New York Times, June 28, 2010)
What Does This Mean for Your Ministry?
Pastors and congregations need to be prepared for a long spell of both increased demand for help and decreased resources. We need more bold, Biblical teaching to help people straighten out their values relative to finances. It is essential that churches find expanded ways to help families suffering from the down economy. Those who ignore it, who cut back on social services and family life education while investing more in other areas are revealing through their corporate body language a message that is unChristlike and defames the character of God at a time when more and more people are turning to faith for answers. This is a moment of missional opportunity for those who care enough to deal with the real needs of families.