Regular readers of this blog know that I am a Dave Ramsey fan. I wish I had followed his financial advice years ago. It would have saved me from a lot of financial mistakes. I now listen to his podcasts when I'm traveling, and we have incorporated a lot of his material into our lives. It's not always easy, but it works.
Part of the reason I listen to his program is because the persons who call in often have interesting stories to tell. Some of those stories will just about break your heart, and you can't help but wonder how any one person can endure so many difficulties in such a short period of time. But, there are others that make you just scratch your head and go, "What?"
These are the persons who lost their job five years ago and haven't been able to find even a part time job since. Or the ones who racked up a six-figure student loan debt majoring in French art and now want to be a stay-at-home parent. Some of my favorites are those who call Dave asking for advice and then want to argue with him why his ideas won't work when it's obvious they don't want to make the lifestyle changes needed for his suggestions to work.
I think most people are sincerely looking for answers to their problems. Most of them, like myself, know they have made mistakes that they now need to clean up and just need some guidance. Others prefer to remain a victim. Yes, they've got a huge problem on their hands, but it's not their fault. The government should have some kind of program to bale them out. There should be something that somebody else could do to resolve their financial difficulties.
This also sounds like a lot of churches. Churches tell me all the time they want to grow. They want to reach new people. They want to see their church return to what it was a few decades ago. They use all the right words about what they want to see happen, but many of them are not willing to do what it takes to accomplish that.
When you begin to look at what they are doing in the areas of ministry or programming you soon realize that they are doing nothing different than what they were doing 30 years ago (or longer). Many really aren't doing anything but opening their doors on Sunday mornings hoping that this will be the day that God will do something to change their situation. Could it be that God is waiting on them to do something?
People in financial difficulty are not likely going to turn that around until they take the necessary steps to change it. This very often includes some major lifestyle changes. Churches struggling to offer ministries that transform lives, or to even keep their doors open, are not going to see that happen until they make the needed changes for such ministries to occur.
Waiting around hoping that somehow, something will improve is a recipe for disaster. For heaven's sake, do something. Start small if you want, but do something. Begin with something easy, but do something. After you do the small, easy things begin to do the more challenging ones that will begin to make a real difference in your situation. Your church can turnaround, but you are going to have to do something that will help that begin to happen.