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6 Responses to “Are We Very Shrewd? (Part 4)”

  1. Mike says:

    I agree Mike that it we should be able to measure, “…whether crime rates, out of wedlock birthrates, or divorce rates are declining in the community. They can measure whether business people are practicing conscientious capitalism or if churches are assisting in raising reading levels in local schools.”

    The question is how do you measure the church’s part in those needles moving? So many factors could be affecting those measurements how can you determine what part the church is playing?

    Also, where I live many churches are working to change some of the issues you listed. They partnered and began work in earnest just as the economy tanked. They really focused on families about to get evicted with real results, yet we know that those evictions went up. What then?

    Finally, how do you measure your specific church’s faithfulness in a larger community? I agree we have to figure out a way to measure this stuff but to what level? How often? Do you have any examples of how churches elsewhere are doing their measuring in a way that is helpful to keep them mission focused and encouraged?

  2. Glenn says:

    Mike, thanks for this excellent series. I just have one thought. In many ways, millions of Christians are “embedded” in existing institutions, companies, corporations, small businesses, etc. In this way, my guess is that many, if not most, are working hard to make a difference within their spheres of influence. This vast effort is somewhat silent, not very flashy. A particular church does not “sponsor” the work of these Christians. There might not be any faith institution organizing or funding their work. But it would be hard for me to imagine if all these people weren’t helping society flourish. I would be interested in your thoughts.

  3. Mike Metzger says:

    To Mike and Glenn:

    A church ought to be able to ask its parishioners, “Are we assisting you in an way, shape, or form when it comes to translating your faith in your workplace?” Socrates said generalities are the refuge of weak mind. The church too often thanks and vague generalities rather than asking specifics regarding whether is it is proving to be of assistance.

    As for Glenn’s comment, I agree that there are millions of Christians quietly going about their work in marvelous ways. The church does not “sponsor” them, but how often do you see a businessperson commissioned by their church? How often do you hear businesspeople present their challenges in the workplace to their worship community, asking it pray and perhaps offer suggestions?

    Finally, the question I am asking in this series is: are we shrewd, especially when it comes to what is required to change the world? Randall Collins describes culture-changing movements as requiring dense, overlapping networks of leaders – not simply isolated individuals here and there doing their best. Being faithful matters of course. But we have to be more shrewd than that, if we are intent in altering the trajectory of today’s culture.

  4. Gerard says:

    Is it fair to say that seeking the good of Babylon was not the purpose of the captivity but God’s instructions for how to past the time?

    The purpose of the captivity was for those who served strange gods in God’s land to learn to serve God in a strange land.

    Perhaps the argument could be made that the best way to measure if the church is serving God is to measure the human-flourishing of its community.

    And since in a Christian culture we turned from serving God, perhaps it is in a non-Christian culture that we will learn to serve Him again.

  5. Mike Metzger says:

    Gerard:

    God’s instructions were not for simply passing the time. The Lord has bigger to fry that that. Seeking the flourishing of others is how we love God and others – the Great Commandment. Your second paragraph gets closer to the truth (I had to read a few times to “get it!”). Your third paragraph is good – yes, we measure human flourishing. Your last paragraph probably would benefit from a bit of editing. There is no such thing as a “Christian” culture. But yes, in the wider world we probably learn better how to serve others. Thanks for asking.

  6. Carl Creasman says:

    Again, Mike, you have brought a strong word to the church. Until we get this mindset into our hearts, the church will continue to decline in its impact.

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