Investing in perspective


Every day there is more bad economic news out of Europe. Is this the big crash we’ve all been fearing? No one knows, but it reminds me of an experience just after the last big crash and some implications for how we approach mission.

Just after the crash of 2008. I visited my dad concerned about his financial future. He’s over eighty and retired. I knew retirees who had lost 40% of their income and wealth due to the crash. I wasn’t sure how dad would handle the challenge.

We went for a walk and I asked how he was doing financially. “No problems,” he assured me.

Surprised I asked how that was possible? “Easy, I had all my money in cash investments.”

Before the crash no one had all their money in cash. That would be stupid in a booming economy. Except my dad. He’s seen a Great Depression and a World War. He is old enough to remember.

The thing about a long memory is perspective. Perspective is a gift that comes with time. Time reveals the consequences of our actions, both good and bad.

Today’s “breakthrough thinking” could become next year’s disaster. Yesterdays “outmoded thinking” might have been based on sound lasting principles.

That’s why it is essential that our thinking and practice of mission is founded on a solid understanding of the scriptures and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Contexts and the times change, and we need to change with them. Yet some things never change, and we must adhere to them, even if they threaten short term gains.

I’m old enough to remember the trends and fads that have swept through the Western church in its understanding of mission—evangelical missions, ecumenical mission, church growth, emerging church, missional communities, and whatever is next.

These trends will come and go. Some have been a disaster, others have helped, but they aren’t the main game. We’re just not smart enough, or creative enough to make this mission thing work.

Jesus Christ is risen and he is Lord. He has given his people two authorities to equip them to fulfil his mission—his dynamic word and the Holy Spirit. Everything else is bonus. You can bank on that.