Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Kayaks are designed for various purposes—some for light touring or day-tripping on lakes and gentle rivers, sometimes known as flat-water. They are for folks who want to take in beautiful scenery.

Other kinds of kayaks are designed for white-water—those fast moving streams littered with rocks and whirlpools and ledges. White-water kayakers don’t get to chat or rhapsodize about the scenery or shoot pictures of wildlife. They’re too busy figuring out how to remain right side up.

Some churches and other Christ-centered nonprofits are designed for flat-water. Yes, they are open to certain changes and innovations, but these are done at a pace where adjustments may reasonably be made.

In a flat-water environment, revenue and expenses moderately increase each year. Givers consistently and faithfully provide support.

Today, churches and other Christ-centered organizations are in a white-water world. The U.S. recession continues to linger. The U.S. federal government debt load of more than $13 trillion is staggering ( Our federal government is spending at the rate of $3.6 trillion per year when the revenue is only $2.2 trillion per year.

California, New York and other states show similar signs of debt overload that recently took Greece to the brink—budgets that will not balance and accounting that masks debt.

Harvard professor and financial historian, Niall Ferguson, recently stated that the U.S. is “on the edge of chaos” suggesting that there is an increasing prospect of the American “empire” to collapse suddenly due to the country’s rising debt.

The co-chairmen of the Administration’s debt and deficit commission offered an ominous assessment of the nation’s fiscal future, calling current budgetary trends a cancer “that will destroy the country from within” unless checked by tough action in Washington.

There are increasing challenges to religious freedom: a court case that challenges the housing allowance for many ministers is moving forward and the failure to balance budgets will significantly impact nonprofits and givers who support them in the next few years.

Yes, white-water times are here to stay. Leadership designed for flat water no longer works.

What should we do in white-water times? It’s time to think like Jesus (I borrow George Barna’s wonderful book title). What would Jesus do if He were in our shoes right now? Surely he would tell us to:
  • Be prepared. Anticipate white-water times; be prepared for events to turn against you.
  • Avoid panic. Continue to do what is right, wise, and consistent with biblical principles.
  • Encourage one another. Reaffirm truths. Thank God for His promises.
  • Anticipate His coming. Look forward to the day history will be cleansed by the return of the King of Kings.
  • Be not afraid. Live not in fear but in confidence in a sovereign God.
  • Be absolutely integral and noble in carrying out your call.
And, above all, I believe Jesus would tell us to be steadfast in our focus on the Great Commission. As my friend, Dr. Walt Russell, says: “As in every era of history, we as God’s people have been given a very specific historical task to accomplish. Our historical task is appropriate for the ‘last days’ and the culmination of the ‘fullness of time’ under Jesus the Messiah. Commissioned by King Jesus and implemented by the Apostles in the Book of Acts, our present priority of the Church’s mission is the rapid advancement of the worldwide harvest and the ongoing preservation and ripening of its fruit through the planting of vibrant local churches among every people group.”

Inspired by an article of the same title written by Gordon MacDonald.