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Aftershock
By: Bill Easum

I just finished reading the book Aftershock by Wiedemer and Spitzer, in which they lay out the Next Global Financial Meltdown and what to do about it. In the book, they show how four disastrous bubbles with burst-causing chaos and panic in all areas of life. They go so far as to say, “The party is coming to an end.” The four bubbles are real estate, stocks, private debt, the dollar, and government debt. These are the same guys who predicted the crash of 2008 long before it happened. If you believe the scenario they lay out, you are fearful of the future. The book is so disturbing I caught myself saying, “If even 10th of this is correct, I need to sell everything I have and leave the country.”

I’m not sure if their predictions that our way of life as we know it is coming to an end are correct, but I know enough about the insanity of our Federal Government on all levels and on both sides of the aisle that I am worried about two things: 10% or more inflation and much higher unemployment. Either of these are bad news for churches. So, what are Christians to do? Certainly not panic and become fearful of the future…but also, we can’t afford to keep our head in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong. Something is terribly wrong at the core worldwide. The fundamentals aren’t in place anymore. And, if it gets worse, we are all in for a rough ride.

Many people are fearful today about a lot of things. You don’t have to work with churches very long to be painfully aware of a chilling reality: Most church leaders are consumed with a wide array of fears. They fear change, rejection, failure, being hurt again, the unknown, strong leaders, running out of money, losing their pension, not finding a job ever again, conflict, being bullied by controlling and intimidating individuals. Aftershock is a #1 best seller on the New York Times book list. The list goes on and on.

I can understand our nation going berserk. We’ve been a sheltered nation for a long time and have grown shallow in our resolve. Also, I can understand some individuals going off half-cocked and acting insane and writing a book like Aftershock. What I refuse to accept is that Christians are being filled with fear. Fear can possess us only when we shut faith, hope, and love out of our lives. And, when you realize that fear is the opposite of love, you understand why so many churches aren’t doing well. When we shut faith, hope, and love out of our lives, we create a void that fear fills immediately. Of course, we’ve always known the remedy – “There is no fear in love, but [mature] love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

So, what are Christian leaders to do?

The only way fear can penetrate a community is because the leaders aren’t leading. Strong, compassionate leaders cast faith, hope, and love into the community, and where these three abide, fear takes a vacation. The moment leaders quit demonstrating that kind of leadership, fear creeps back in.

How do leaders fearlessly lead? Among other things, by:

• Casting faith, hope, and love everywhere they turn
• Keeping the church focused on the God-given mission in Jesus Christ—to reach out to the world
• Embracing new ideas and encouraging people to think beyond the box
• Helping other leaders dream of things that probably will never happen
• Holding people accountable for their actions, never allowing fear to gain a foothold
• Seeing the future as a friend
• Treating failures as opportunities to learn
• Showing compassion for those who have not yet experienced Christ
• Being open to the hopes and dreams of others as well as those of the Holy Spirit

Trust must dominate an organization. Usually trust is lost because of past betrayals by one or more spiritual leaders. When leaders seriously fall, the trust is very hard to ever recover. How do leaders maintain trust? Among other things, by:

• Keeping their lives pure
• Not making capricious decisions
• Valuing the work and ministry of everyone on the team
• Sharing the credit with everyone on the team

Lead from Faith, Not Fear
If a congregation is a thriving, healthy community of faith, hope, and love, we know that fear can’t find a foothold for very long. Of course, fear is present from time to time in all of us because, like Peter, at times we all take our eyes off Jesus and sink beneath the murky waters of our self-made fears. But fear never reigns when love and faith are present. A fearful Christian is an oxymoron.

Faithful leaders simply never lead from fear. It never works. So, get ready to confront whatever fears you may have and replace them with faith, hope, and love.

P.S. During February of this year, when the country’s alert status went up, near the highest it can go, my email box overflowed from leaders seeking direction on what to say to their congregations.

Here was my response:

• Be calm and remind them that nothing can separate them from the love of God.
• Be calm and fill them with many of the ways God has been with you in your times of trial.
• Be calm and share with them some of the promises God has made to those who believe.
• Be calm and help them see that courage, not fear, is the legacy of faith in Jesus Christ.
 • Be calm and remind them that, as James says, we can learn to count it all joy when surrounded by all kinds of trials.
• Be calm and demonstrate contempt for fear. Be calm and pray for the fearful that they might find faith.
• Finally, be calm.

Bill Easum is president of 21st Century Strategies, Inc. a full-service church consulting group since 1987 whose mission is to equip Christian for global impact, www.churchconsultations.com.









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