I've found myself in deep thought lately over my church's current financial crisis. And not surprisingly, I've focused a lot of attention to what changes we can make here to get back on track money-wise and get back into the game of outreach.
But then I realized something about myself . . . something that I didn't like. What I had done was fall prey to the classic trap of inward focus. Not that I lost a heart for the unchurched and lost, no, not that. But what I had done is treated my church's financial ills as being isolated from the ongoing woes of my community. The Lord turned my mind to an important passage from Jeremiah, where even as He told the Israelites that He would be carrying them off from their homeland and into exile, He also instructed them to pray for the peace and prosperity of the city to which they were being taken . . . for if the city prospered, they too would prosper. I realized that even though He had to discipline the Israelites for their sin, He still had a heart of compassion for them that sought their greater good.
I liked that verse so much that I printed it up and stuck it on my office door. For to me it was a important reminder that the financial problems of Our Saviour Lutheran Church are directly connected to the troubled economy of Hudson, and indeed of all lower Michigan.
And then I repented for having a heart of love for my city, but hands and feet that had been idle and not done all that they could do for my city.
So today I got on my battle armor. I put on my clerical shirt and collar and drove out to the local industrial park and walked right into three of the big manufacturers out there, announced who I was and that all I wanted to do was talk with somebody who could tell me specifically how to pray for them.
And all three gave me something to pray for. Not just one, but all three. Each business said, "Pray for _________ for us and the people who work here."
That amazed me, honestly. I knew the local situation was bleak, but I hadn't expected a three-for-three acknowledgment that the situation was beyond their control and that they needed Divine intervention to get through not just the months ahead, but this very day.
I want my church to prosper, because if it prospers we keep on gathering to hear the Gospel week in and week out. We continue to be a mission outpost that offers the unconditional love and mercy and grace and favor offered by God and given through Jesus Christ.
And for the church to prosper, I need my city to prosper, as well. Major local employers are in incredibly vulnerable positions right now. Jobs are on the line. Familes are hanging in the balance.
So today, I begin daily prayer not just for my church, but for my city. Because if it prospers, so will the Gospel outreach of this church.
Join with me in prayer. Pray that my prayers are effective and powerful. Pray that God enables the city of Hudson to prosper, and that as the city prospers, so does His church.