Decision-making in a Time of Uncertainty
by Mark Johnson, ECCU Executive Vice President
(Originally published as a post within ECCU’s former e-publication, The Buzz.)
Over the final weeks of 2008, many of us at ECCU found ourselves sitting around conference and dining room tables making decisions. Some critical, some not so. Yes, there were conversations here at ECCU about our business plan for 2009, but we also talked about decision-making in the churches and ministries where we personally invest our time and resources.
Just as you are asked to do, we are seeking to make wise decisions in this uncertain economic environment. While some say the economy will turn for the better in the latter half of 2009, others forecast a longer downward trend before things get better. So, how do ministry leaders like you and me make wise decisions in a time of such uncertainty?
What if we start with what we DO know—both theologically and practically?
My own theology is clear on this. I DO know that God is in control. While times and circumstances are volatile and clearly out of my control, none of this is a surprise to our sovereign God who has both a purpose and a plan—and the complete authority and capacity to carry it out. My ability to trust completely in this fact still wavers from time to time, but God’s trustworthiness is never in question.
From a practical and financial standpoint, we DO have much information (or at least we should) about how our ministries have been performing. We have historical financial performance data. We can review trends in both giving and expenses. Some may even have information about how their constituents responded during previous times of economic downturn. We are wise to consider what we DO know as we make decisions for our future.
Then, recognizing the significance of the things we DO NOT know (simply too numerous to mention), God invites us to ask for wisdom and promises to grant it if we ask in faith (James 1). “Foolish” is certainly not too strong a word to describe those of us who, in our personal or corporate lives, make decisions without taking God up on this invitation.
However we go about it, we must make decisions in this uncertain time, moving ahead while embracing the tension of God’s sovereignty and the free will which he gives us to exercise stewardship over our ministries.
I ran across a really well crafted piece the other day by Paul Clark, executive pastor of operations at Fairhaven Church in Centerville, Ohio, whose reputation for ministry leadership I’ve come to respect. I encourage you to read his message, Seeing with the Eyes of God. It is a great reminder for us all of the value of a godly perspective as we walk into 2009 together.