What do you think is the biggest social issue that churches struggle with today? Many people believe that gay marriage tops the list. But Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Bible Church in Beltsville, Maryland, struggles more with teaching his congregants about greed and the need to be frugal in today’s economic climate, the “Great Recession.”
CNN Belief Blog writer Jeff Blake spoke with Jackson about how to approach economic issues from the pulpit. “I’ve got to watch it,” Jackson said. “I could get into some big teaching on greed, but the reality is that a lot of that teaching may wind up creating anti-economic-growth and anti-capitalism concepts (in people’s minds)… I always talk about personal responsibility so we don’t get into the blame game.”
Many American religious leaders see their influence as crucial to congregants’ financial attitudes and behaviors, and most of them try to steer clear of giving explicit messages about how people should use their money.
Rev. Robin Meyers considers money to be the “last taboo” in the church. “It’s much easier to talk about sex than money,” he says. But, when the US economy has been recessed for so long, it seems that talking about money is exactly what leaders, religious or not, need to do.
The Christmas season was especially tough for ministers as they considered how to address the economy from the pulpit. They understand that “joblessness and insecurity is a part of life for many now,” according to the Wausau Daily Herald. Rev. David Klutterman chose to focus on the presence of God and the story of Jesus’s birth during his Christmas Eve service, rather than dwelling on earthly problems. While it is important for Christians to remember the traditional teachings during the holiday season, to me this seems like a “head in the sand” approach, and not particularly respectful to those who are struggling economically.
Photo credit: aronki
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