I’d say a financial reckoning is under way. It won’t touch everyone – many wealthy will escape once again – but it will cut deep.

Too many years of living on borrowed funds and magical thinking are taking a painful toll: on our nation’s finances, on homeowners, on many businesses, on not-for-profits, and on churches. And that’s just the US. The situation is even grimmer in much of Europe.

In my Church Wellness Report today (http://churchwellness.tumblr.com/) I said it as straight as I know how. I said churches face a stark choice: try to survive unchanged and surely die, or set a bold course toward growth and turnaround.

It will come down to leadership. I suggest we pray for boldness in church leaders, especially in clergy, who will have to learn new ways of serving and being strong, assertive leaders.


Q: Last week a dear old friend of mine called to tell me he has stage 4 lung cancer and has been given about three months to live. He is 87 years old and claims to be an agnostic. He is very intelligent and is mentally alert as ever. On the other hand, his body is worn it out! Question: How do you suggest we approach him to make sure he has “made his peace”?

A: I suggest you sit with him and let him say whatever he needs to say. And when words fail him, just be there. You don’t need to have any spiritual agenda, except to show God’s abiding love. When people are dying, they sometimes want reassurance that their life mattered. Your friendship answers that. If he asks about God and eternity, I suggest you reassure him that God’s love never ends. Nothing can separate him from that love.

I wouldn’t think a mission to make sure he has made his peace would be appropriate. He need do nothing to win God’s love.

Washington Square Park lamp post, photo by Will Ehrich