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Economics, Faith and 21st Century Church

By Dan Johnson,2014-06-29 16:14
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Economics, Faith and 21st Century Church

    Economics, Faith and 21st Century Church

    by Frank Scrimgeour

    Christians, households, churches and ministries make economic choices every day. These choices reflect individual and group aspirations and current economic and political realities. Christians generally try and do the “right thing”. There are glorious examples of significant Christian works of empowerment, justice and mercy, exemplified by William Wilberforce (Pollock). Christian leaders must reflect on where their faith community is going in the economic sphere and how it can better fulfill both aspirations and obligations. This chapter is structured around two themes. The first theme pertains to an understanding of economic matters and explores core elements of economic theory and theology. In a limited sense it seeks to link Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments with his Inquiry into the Nature and

    Causes of the Wealth of Nations. The second theme relates to the different domains of

    economic activity where Christians make choices. These domains are characterized as families and households; business and careers; churches and para-church organizations; and public policy. The chapter concludes with a consideration of “pastor priorities”, issues local Christian leaders can address. Each section seeks to address core concepts from theology and from economics literature, with contemporary applications.

Foundations

    Christians should understand the basis of their economic convictions. Eloquent speakers or seemingly cogent analyses may provide partial solutions or ideals but these may be impractical or have unintended consequences. If we wish to give priority to theological ideals the historic themes of creation, fall, redemption and consummation provide a foundation (see Stott). What was God’s intention from the beginning? How do evil, ignorance and sin distort God’s intentions? What are the opportunities and mechanisms to redeem choices and achieve God’s intentions. Finally, when we do God’s will “on earth as it is in heaven” what will

    things be like? This framework is valuable because of both its idealism and its realism.

    Christians can be too selective in their attachment to Biblical themes relating to economics. Some note Jesus clearing the money lenders out of the temple (Mark 11;15-19); others the idealistic sharing of the early Christians (Acts 2:44-45); others note Paul the self-supporting minister and tentmaker (Acts 18:3); others remember his words about money being the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Some note the call to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s

    (Matthew 22:21) while others focus on the rapacious Babylon reported in Revelation 17. Similarly with the Old Testament. Some note legal injunctions relating to property rights (thou shall not steal) and others the warning about kings (Deuteronomy 17:16): their pretensions and their tendency towards oppression. Some highlight the glories of David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 22) while others emphasize the critique of the prophets and quote liberally from Amos and Micah.

    These records help God’s people discern the right course of action. Today we must interpret both original and current situations in a way that honours God. The Biblical witness challenges our hearts and minds as well as our actions. With concern we ask: who are we, why do we do certain things, what are the outcomes in the lives of individuals, families and communities of faith? There are contextual considerations: what was appropriate in nomadic pastoral communities in ancient Israel was an inadequate guide for a Christian’s economic

    responsibility in Rome during the first century AD. Theological education by itself is an inadequate source of economic guidance to the church. In theological engagement and daily living, all of us start with various assumptions about how the world works. As Keynes stated, “The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual

    influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” Numerous authors have explored the nature and key elements of the interaction between theology and economics. Some are more philosophical: Smith, Nelson, Novak, Brennan and Waterman, Hay and Polak. Others such as Tawney, Sider, Storkey, Chilton, Daly and Cobb, Iannaccone, Budziszewski and Wilson are focused on specific concerns. Given this breadth of literature a number of themes could be emphasized. In this chapter I will limit myself to five issues.

    First, economic analysis highlights the observation that economic outcomes are the results of choice and preference. I may prefer apples you may prefer bananas; I may prefer to spend

     you may prefer to spend more on education; I may prefer to spend more on more on health

    controlling greenhouse gas emissions you may prefer to spend more on reducing nitrogen

    contamination in waterways. These preferences may be informed to some degree by ethical convictions but we should not assume a preference, even a group preference, is anything more than a preference.

    Second, the laws of supply and demand characterize the behaviour of people, firms, institutions and organizations. Producers face opportunity costs when seeking to increase production, and higher prices do generate a supply response. Consumers demonstrate a declining marginal willingness to pay for goods and services. The interaction of supply and demand determines the quantities and prices of goods and services, which move in predictable ways in response to changes in supply and demand. These adjustments need to be recognized for what they are, a reflection of agent response to changing opportunities and constraints on both the supply and demand side of the market.

    Third, there are many economic agents making decisions. Individuals make decisions as members of households, as employees, managers, consumers, voters and investors. It is critical that policy advocates and policy makers recognize the participation of the all agents in the economy. A policy maker may be motivated to regulate, tax or act in some way to achieve an outcome. Many agents will respond to that policy act and there may be unintended consequences.

    Fourth, if we ignore externalities and time, we may miss the most important consequences of a particular choice. Consumption constraints today may cause higher or lower consumption in future. External effects not represented in market prices may be significant, perhaps even larger than market returns.

    Fifth, economic governance arrangements are important. Constitutional arrangements governing the Reserve Bank are arguably more important than the Bank’s decisions. Similarly company law and employment law are major determinants of economic outcomes and the associated transaction costs of achieving these outcomes. Christians should focus on institutional design and the sets of decisions facing a company or council or government as opposed to considering each concern in isolation.

    The introductory theological and economic commentary provides guidance for economic thinking and behaviour. Christian economic principles of value will not only relate to the value we place on alternative outcomes and how they are achieved but will also be consistent with how the world works. They will be relevant to all areas of life and provide individual and communities with both opportunities and responsibilities. Christians should invest in character formation and consider how institutional design and political choice encourages people, firms and institutions to behave appropriately. For this reason it is important to interpret all that follows in the light of wider literature on Christian social ethics such as Niebuhr, Thielicke, Mott, Pollock and Koyzis.

Families and Households

    Families and households are core units in the church and the economy. Sound household economic decisions are crucial for economic welfare through time and across generations (Maley, NZCCSS). They impact household, wider community and nation. One generation nurtures the next at great cost, support that hopefully in time is reciprocated. Parents invest in their children, an investment that brings a return in both the short and long run. Families are also part of congregations and parish communities. Families contribute to and receive from church ministries, their contributions including time, tithes, offerings, loans, professional skills and the provision of security. Churches should recognize the economic demands they place on households.

    Families are part of wider society, contributing paid work, taxes, donations and bequests. Christian households are major contributors to voluntary activity in community organizations, such service often being given at significant cost. Households, as with individuals, face hard choices involving tradeoffs between the short run and the long run: should households contribute directly to a need today or save and invest to better meet future needs?

    In a world of poverty these choices are frustratingly difficult but in a country dominated by middle class communities it should normally be possible to make principled choices. At the heart of household choices lie Christian virtues and the development of relationships of trust. Economic progress is built upon trust. Virtues facilitate satisfying relationships between firms and customers, employees and employers and all commercial and professional relationships. Hence it is more important to develop these virtues than attain employment skills or initial capital for investment.

    Household economic choices are partly choices of faith and commitment but they are also matters of preference. Some prefer a small house and a boat while others prefer a large house; some prefer a stylish house whilst others prefer a modest house and a powerful car. These choices all impact family dynamics and interactions with other people. Arguably these impacts are more important than the specific choices. The church at its best helps people to appreciate the consequences of their choices.

    Households experience tension between time and money. Many are time poor but cash rich. Others are time rich and cash poor. Households should recognize the tradeoffs and make explicit choices rather than be drawn along by dominant attitudes within their sub-culture. Another trade-off is between investment and consumption. Investment in the future reduces consumption today. The challenge is to make explicit choices.

    Households go through a consumption cycle. As incomes increase, consumption tends to increase proportionally. This may not be problematic but it might be expected that increased income would lead to increased investment or charitable giving. A challenge many households face is the provision and consumption of local public goods which may be provided by local government, clubs or similar entities. Adequate funding of local public goods is often difficult because some free-ride on the contributions of others. Trust must be developed and local public good arrangements made robust enough to survive despite exploitation.

    Student debt is a challenge to some households. Graduate salaries can alleviate the pain of repayment, but there are other problems. Many students increase their consumption because of the availability of cheap debt, not a good use of public finance. Some spend the NZ summer snow-boarding in Europe as opposed to finding employment to reduce that debt. Further, parents who could help reduce the debt choose not to because of the interest-free nature of the funding. At the household level there is opportunity to make sound decisions based on conviction rather than just responding to opportunities.

    Many families increase income and wealth through time. As a result many own houses, bachs, boats and other discretionary assets. These assets all provide significant utility but difficulties arise from the lust for more. Preaching can help people choose an appropriate consumption bundle, addressing fundamental issues in practical ways. The message may not be heard because of tempting alternatives or because it is blunted by misleading analysis or compromised by the poor example of church leaders.

    Two big questions are the appropriate level of investment in growing income and wealth and the appropriate allocation of income when one has significant freedom. Asset transfers between generations is an area of particular contention. In a previous world of lower life expectancies and larger families generally with limited assets, the transfer between generations was small. However with people living longer, declining family size and a greater spread of wealth many Christians receive inheritances at a time when they have little need. Churches might take responsibility to help people prepare for opportunities and obligations associated with inheritance.

    In contrast, investment schemes are now presented as critical for our future wellbeing. To those in the top half of income distribution these schemes are not an issue. Careful evaluation of the opportunities will lead to choices consistent with resources and preferences. However for those further down, investment schemes are critical for both current and future wellbeing. On principle, everyone should be prudent but should not save today for retirement what would be better spent on housing, education, health and responsible consumption. There must be transparency about the nature of investment schemes and their risks.

    Arguably the most important challenge is for those households who struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis. It is here the Christian church has a core responsibility to work with people, not only to meet their immediate needs but also where possible to help them transition to an adequate and stable income stream and associated patterns of expenditure. While not easy this is a most satisfying ministry in which a church may engage.

Business and Careers

    Christian career and business choices are decisive determinants of both economic and mission outcomes. The doctrine of creation and its associated call to stewardship provides both a foundation for and a lens to view career and business choice. Christian conceptions of vocation have varied through the history of the church. Both those who are designated “ministerial” and those whose primary incomes are not mediated via church funds must take responsibility. Michael Novak’s Business as a Calling is a helpful contribution to the

    literature. Many Christians who are happy to recognize ministries in education, health and public service are reluctant to recognize the validity and responsibilities of Christian business. Similarly, many Christian business people see their work as “God’s business” yet are disparaging about other professional choices.

    Business has significant opportunity to contribute to kingdom values and outcomes (Kelderman). Successful business generates profits and these can augment Christian endeavour beyond the tithes and offerings associated with wages and drawings. Christian business generates capital which can be used as security against which ministries may borrow. However, more important than these financial contributions from the residual of economic activity, business can provide opportunities to develop people and people skills, both people of high value to business and people who are willing to be transformed by the experience. All business has responsibilities as often discussed under the heading of corporate social responsibility (Ewin; May, Cheney and Roper). Christian business has unique responsibilities. These relate to the obligation to not only satisfy legal obligation but also to consistently serve as ambassadors for the kingdom rather than merely sustainably satisfying consumer aspirations. Christian business people are also susceptible to the same delusions as other fallible people. Business success may derive from skill, hard work, ingenuity and what many

    people see as luck. We are aware of the hubris of senior executives at Enron (McLean and Elkind); unfortunately Christian business participants have fallen to the same delusions.

    The primary business challenge is to generate wealth. This provides both a discipline and a challenge to managers and entrepreneurs. Many business people have got into wealth decreasing activity and been unable to extricate themselves. Others have successfully generated wealth but in the process have forgotten other obligations. Business relies on public assets as well as private assets. It is easy for business to ignore the public contribution to their business outcomes, and to maintain a mindset which wishes to privatize profits and socialize losses. Business makes a valuable contribution to society beyond the provision of goods and services, employment and taxes. This includes investment in public infrastructure, especially institutions of governance and partnership. The public-private interface is an area of potential tension. Public-private partnerships are an important feature of modern society. They are an opportunity to leverage public resources and expertize with private resources to achieve outcomes that would not be achieved without partnership. A particular tension revolves around the constraints associated with a political partner driven by political priorities and a business partner driven by business priorities.

    Globalization provides opportunities and challenges for business. Most businesses are intimately connected with global networks of suppliers, customers, or both. The same customer service attitudes which facilitate small business success are essential in lubricating global business. The considerable power of global corporates is constrained by economic laws of supply and demand, country law and international commercial law.

    Business failure is a source of great personal angst, and can leave investors, employees, customers and suppliers wearing significant losses. The law tries to minimize the damage but damage still occurs. Christian business people sometimes take on obligations beyond the law and beyond what they can bear. They need to hear a message of grace. Others inhabit a world of cheap grace and simply move on to their next activity, failing to act beyond the legal obligations that are enforced. They need to hear a message of responsibility.

    One ongoing challenge is the issue of conducting business with a customer or partner who does not hold to the faith or to acceptable business practice, or who functions under an unacceptable political regime. Hence the rise of ethical investment policies and commitments (Knowles). During the anti-apartheid campaign years, some firms chose to pull out of South Africa, some willingly and some under duress. Currently some NZ firms are uncertain about what arrangements they should or should not have with Fijian business. The issue impacts more than investment opportunities and business partnerships. What services should a business provide to specific customer?. Should a Christian business sell beds to brothels? Or alco-pops to young adults or nitrogen fertilizers to farmers who may use more than is optimal for the environment? Many a business selects its customers on the basis of the impact on their reputation. However, if refusing to provide a product or service they must beware of lack of charity and of anti-discrimination and competition laws.

    Career choices are important for individual satisfaction, contribution to and the economic welfare of, households and the economy. Some Christian communities have empowered their people to develop by helping them gain education, training and opportunities. Others have discouraged education, or encouraged it restrictively, with the result that they have adversely affected the prospects of individuals, households and communities.

    Careers and business have a lifecycle. Individuals and business can be impatient for the next stage in the cycle and rush ahead without adequate preparation. Similarly individuals can cling to a current stage and fail to move on. This ability to transition is dependent upon adequate understanding of the world, self-understanding and the necessary faith. Bankruptcy or failure disrupts the lifecycle and has a traumatic effect on many parties. The church should

    help individuals and communities pick up the pieces and move on while learning from the experience.

    Many successful business people respond to the challenge of leaving a legacy, often motivated by a sense of thankfulness and a desire to contribute to others. However it is one thing to have a dream. It is another to conceptualize and implement it. Two questions for any budding philanthropist are: what is the need to which you wish to contribute, and who is already active in trying to meet this or similar needs? In our desire to help is it better to facilitate an existing ministry or to start something new? Further, there is always the issue of names. Should we name a building, programme, or ministry after a donor or is it better to follow the traditions of the Amish and not draw attention to individuals?

Churches and Para-church Organizations

    Churches and para-church organizations have long engaged in economic activities which impact on the economic welfare of their members and communities, and distant communities (see Fielder, 1979). Some churches have capital assets which have accumulated over long periods. Some have significant commercial activity via trusts and incorporated societies. Some have ministries of education, health services, social welfare and the like which impact large numbers of families each week. Some congregations have none of these assets and have minimal economic activity. However it is not uncommon for there to be a ratio in churches of 100 members to $0.5 million of church assets and an annual operating budget of more than $100,000. Assets and funds are managed variously, some controlled by central church bureaucracies, others by local staff and others by local lay leaders. Some managers are very conservative while others expose churches and members to financial risk.

    Church and para-church activities vary greatly in terms of their explicit connections to kingdom aspirations. Some are explicitly linked as in say the Liberty Trust or Habitat for

    Humanity. Others appear to be historic artefacts rather than commitments of contemporary faith. What is the place of staff and ministry activities in the allocation and management of resources? Challenges include guarding the priorities of the faith; utilizing expertize; and having organizational design with checks and balances whilst maintaining flexibility to develop ministry in an entrepreneurial way.

    Abuse of church money and resources has plagued followers of Jesus from the beginning, as with Judas, Ananias and Saphira. More recent high profile failures may distract us from addressing lapses of judgment and behaviour in our own congregations and organizations. Poor performance has been evident in one-upmanship and unhealthy competition which reduces effectiveness and dishonours our Lord. Evidence suggests freedom generates more robust Christian communities than state-sanctioned church monopolies, but a greater commitment to the kingdom of God and to cooperation and effective use of resources will enhance ministry effectiveness.

    Churches must attend to their mission, revenue, costs, investment and their organization and governance. Local leaders should be aware of how their resources are allocated and how the allocation compares to their priorities. Money can be allocated to fads or historic patterns rather than used to meet new opportunities and challenges. Churches and para-church organizations raise funds in many ways. Members give tithes and offerings, fundraising occurs, services are charged for, funds are sought from external bodies and by TV advertizing, and received from bequests. Some of these mechanisms are consistent with theological conviction and economic effectiveness. Others at times send inappropriate messages and undermine ministry success. Church costs vary greatly. Some enjoy the luxury of strong cash flows or the fact that capital costs have been paid by previous generations. For others, expenditures are constrained by limited incomes, or by commitments to give to people in greater need or for other reasons. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in a period of high

    incomes church staff can become careless about expenditures they would not make if the money was coming from their own personal bank accounts.

    Churches last for generations and there may be investment to sustain future needs. Two categories of investment are important: investment in key infrastructure such as church buildings, and investment in savings schemes to fund future needs. A balance must be maintained between for example, investment and expenditures on current people, and between operating costs and contributions to the needs of others. Church properties and other investments need careful management through good organization and governance arrangements. A particular concern is the lack of strategic thought and risk management associated with many arrangements. Hard-earned assets can be dissipated quickly by idealistic fervour, carelessness or ignorance. The right people must be appointed to the right places as stewards of assets.

    Christian organizations can improve their economic performance in many ways. Ministry organization is a central issue. Organizational structure should be robust enough to last, while flexible enough to cope with changing circumstances. Ask, “How does this organization work in practice? Does it generate good decisions? Does it make those decisions in a cost effective manner?” The Charities Commission provides useful impetus to carefully consider organizational design, process and performance. Church and ministry building projects are a classic opportunity for thought and reflection. Do we need a new building? Is there an existing building we could use? Can we build a different building for greater usefulness or lower cost? Would a different site release more capital, or perhaps cost more but generate more effective ministry outcomes?

    Similarly fundraising is an area for careful choices. Giving is one of the church’s core values: as worship and obligation, giving provides opportunity for good but can be distorted by poor leadership. Churches must be transparent about the reasons for fundraising and in reporting back to show that funds have been used consistently with these reasons. Transparency and accountability does not mean we should not do new and adventurous things. For instance, one old concept that has much potential is to make more widespread use of non interest-bearing debt products to fund Christian endeavour in New Zealand and around the world. Mission spending involves the tension between holding people and organizations accountable for the money they receive whilst treating the recipients with dignity and respect and letting them manage their own affairs. This is facilitated through relationships of trust and clear processes before money changes hands. Getting the expectations right in advance smooths the path.

    Helping the poor in our own communities can be demanding. Poverty can arise quite quickly. People who are physically, mentally and spiritually healthy can transition back into a productive space. Where people are not, the journey tends to be much slower and may never result in independence and security. It is important that we care for the carers lest social workers, budget advisors and other caring people withdraw from front line service through exhaustion and lack of support.

Church and Public Policy

    Despite the church’s beginning as a disenfranchised minority, in a relatively short time the church grew in influence through the conversion of officials and eventually the professed conversion of Emperor Constantine. Since then there have been interactions between church and state.

    The state’s role has limitations. The state can stop you polluting the environment but it cannot compel you to make optimal use of your property. The state can fund schools and pay teachers but it cannot make children learn. The state has responsibilities, for example the

    making of policy and the provision of services. It is important the church and its members evaluate policies and actions in every context, and engage with government.

    Engagement in public policy debate requires policy analysis (Weimer and Vining) if Christian leaders and activists are to interact with politicians and officials who are trained to evaluate policies and interact with the public. Constructive, professional interaction is essential if one wishes to have influence. Why should government be involved? What should government be trying to achieve? If there is clarity and agreement about the purpose one can move on with the analysis.

    Most economic activity occurs because people voluntarily produce, trade, and purchase products. Strictly speaking, government need not do anything. Policy analysis is needed if someone believes the government should be taking action to address a concern about core economic institutions and policy settings (eg. should we have a Reserve Bank and how should it function?); the equity of economic outcomes (eg. should we increase the incomes of the poorest members of the community?); evidence of market failure (eg. the application of fertilizer at a certain rate results in polluted ground water some distance from the site of application); evidence of government failure (eg. a government agency seems to be misallocating resource as a result of lack of information or perverse incentives or some other reason); or government activity because politicians or voters or both asked for it (but a mixed set of consequences need to be evaluated).

    When analysing particular policies it is useful to develop some kind of taxonomy for evaluation. Many issues have been addressed before. Normally the number of potential responses is limited. For example, facing a pollution issue there are some common responses. Government may: impose a regulation of some sort; put in place emission taxes; establish a tradable emission permit system; provide education; negotiate voluntary agreements; do nothing. Each option can be explored in detail. The option of doing nothing may appeal because the cost of doing something may be greater than the expected benefit. For the amateur and the professional policy analyst it is always helpful to ask: what is the generic issue? Is there something unique here? What are the alternative responses? How does this issue interact with other issues and policies? For Christians there is the additional question: how does this interact with specific Christian concerns such as for the poor and the family?

    Policy analysis ultimately compares alternatives. All economic policies have degrees of imperfection and we gain from thoughtful comparison. We must identify alternatives, understand how they work, and compare the outcomes and costs associated with each. Look for unintended consequences, remembering that people and firms respond to incentives and to changing policies and laws. Policy is ultimately driven by politics. Christians may participate in political parties and pressure groups, and create new organizations. In a small country like New Zealand, relationships are important. If we listen and talk respectfully, even if forcefully, we are more likely to be heard. The quality of the argument does help. Third, politics sometimes brings together strange bedfellows. Christians should not be surprised to be in step with unions one day, the Business Roundtable another day and the Greens on another. Suppose there are four policy options under consideration. Your policy preferences may be ordered 1 to 3, with a fourth option you strongly dislike. Your second choice may be attainable by coalition with others. Your first choice may be unattainable; if you keep pushing for it you may end up being lumbered with option 4 that you strongly oppose.

    The church engages in economic debate at numerous levels. Bishops and other leaders make public statements (The Oxford Declaration on Christian Faith and Economics, 1990 and the Papal Encyclical Centesimus Annus, 1991). Christian thinktanks and lobby groups generate

    information and argument (Randerson; Hawtrey and Neville; Smelt; Easton; Dalziel; and Buchanan and Hartley). Individual Christians are energetically involved in political parties and lobby groups. Professional economists are active in government departments and the

    commercial sector. The church should be focused and careful when speaking in public about economic matters. It should continually indicate its alignment with the needs of the poor and other positioning statements, and be clear about hoped-for outcomes.

    When Christians consistently stand for or against a particular political party they may cease to listen. Christian thinktanks whether formal or informal, should think, not just repeat received wisdom apart from due attention to issues (such as Maori rights, institutional integrity, environmental sustainability, social inclusiveness and international relations).

    Finally, to impact economic outcomes in communities of influence, churches must interact, for several reasons. Through discussion, leaders as well as economic analysts will grow in understanding of the issues and develop common responses, as will Christian business people engaged in wealth generation, Christian educators and social workers.

Conclusions for Pastors and Local Church Leaders

    The chapter concludes with ten specific areas where local church leaders can have an impact.

    1 Theology for Weekday Living

    By consistent teaching, church leaders can help their members interpret income generating, consumption and investment choices from the perspective of Christian faith. This includes reflection on the implications of the doctrines of creation, fall, redemption and consummation. It also involves broad foundations and specific exploration of Christian social ethics. Taught and modeled in Christian communities such understanding has the potential to transform communities from the bottom up.

    2 Character Formation and Life Skills for Youth and Children

    Most children and youth live in a very different world from that in which their parents grew up. Young people may be inspired to make a difference personally and in communities. This inspiration can be complemented with practical life skills drawing on contemporary application of Scripture and drawing from contemporary educational programmes.

    3 Career Facilitation for Young adults

    Many young adults discuss careers in terms of what they like, one important component. What they like comes out of what they want to achieve and their skills. The career trajectories of young adults may substantially change through programmes of mentoring and complementary reading.

    4 Career Facilitation for Middle and Senior Adults

    Many middle aged and senior people are potentially open to career enhancement. It could be they are stuck in a rut, uncertain how to use their freedom effectively. It could be they are almost worn out running on a fast treadmill. Worldly wise spiritual reflection and partnership which is more than a quick assessment may transform the lives of these people and achieve surprising outcomes.

    5 Economic Freedom for Young Adults

    Young adults live in a world where consumption is highly valued, where student debt is common, where house prices appear expensive. Whatever their economic starting point, young adults can benefit from guidance towards a more secure economic future from which they may contribute to the needs of others.

    6 Economic Guidance for Politicians and Analysts

    Members engaged in economic analysis or public policy as professionals or citizens can be encouraged and nurtured to become good ambassadors for the church.

    7 Economic Strategies for the Poor

    Many congregations do good things to help the poor in their midst or in their communities. In the light of New Zealand’s recent strong income growth, perhaps this is the time to develop new thinking and initiatives.

    8 Economics and Management for Church Asset Managers

    There is much potential to work with church asset managers to raise aspirations, enhance vision, recruit younger members and increase their capability.

    9 Economics and Management for Para-church Managers and Leaders

    Para-church leaders are motivated and focused but often fail to appreciate the relationship of their work to the wider Christian church and society. They could benefit from initiatives to increase understanding of their responsibility and how their management and financial choices impact their own ministries and the ministries of others.

    9 Inter-church Cooperation for Better Economic Outcomes

    Christian congregations are important stakeholders in local communities and the nation. Working together we are more likely to address economic issues in a coherent manner, and dialogue more effectively with politicians.

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