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Emotions flare easily when we are talking about the places where the country's budget could really hurt us.  Or people we care about.  It's complex, yes, but deacons can help the dialog as well as the decisions to be Christ-like.

Amidst the turmoil about the national debt, the budget, and the political process to address the situation, Christians and Christian organizations are weighing in too - probably more than usual.  One of the most important dimensions of the budget conversation is its impact on the poor and the weak.  Surely that’s an area of passionate concern for Christians and the Church!

I have Jesus-following friends who disagree – strongly – about what the budget should look like.  I have conflicting convictions within myself!  And I’m struck that the word “sacrifice” is turning up so often.   Sacrifice is a religious word!  Maybe that’s why these Christian organizations familiar to many of us have issued a statement.   

Not all Christians agree.  Check this site for one example.

What’s a deacon to do?

The national budget moment has powerful stewardship dimensions.  Surely it’s a worthy goal to learn as much as possible about the issues, and to the best of our ability help conversations stay rational, calm, and helpful.  

I wonder about convening some evening coffee conversations where members of the congregation can discuss together, learn together, hone each other’s understanding, and maybe go home grateful for faithful friends who care as much as we do about how to be Kingdom citizens.   There are certainly a lot of discipleship issues to be discussed when we are making budgets!

But how is this a diaconal matter?  Well, I’m wondering…. Does this national conversation have echoes in our churches?  In our families?  Should it?  Are there implications for how we make OUR budgets?  And what about our families?  Is there an opportunity here for some fresh conversation about family spending patterns?   Can we talk about the choices we make with our money, and the expectations we have for the money we spend on charity?  Where has the church spent benevolent money that really had the result we hoped for?  What can we learn from that?  How are we shaping our family lives and our congregational lives in ways that address need in truly Christ-like ways?  

I would like to hear what your deacons are doing to help shape budget questions in radically Christ-like ways.


My favorite explanation of the national budget is the Ben & Jerry's guy with the Oreo cookies. I think it's on YouTube.

There are a number of facts that can be quantified with real data:

- Less than 1% of the federal budget is used to fight poverty and disease in other nations. So making cuts in this area will have minimal impact to the federal budget deficit.

- Many of the international programs funded by the US save lives (e.g., malaria and AIDS treatment; bed nets to prevent malaria).

- Many domestic US programs (e.g., Earned Income Tax Credit, SNAP) are effective in assisting to lift families out of poverty and prevent hunger.

And I would hope that most Christians can agree that God has a special concern for the poor and that the church, individuals, non-government organizations, and the government all have a role to play in addressing this.

But facts aren't all that we need. I encourage everyone to become familiar with "A Call for Intergenerational Justice: A Christian Proposal for the American Debt Crisis" that Karl referenced in his original post ("issued a statement" link) and use that as a starting point for discussion and action.

Thanks for this post, Karl. I've actually raised the topic of the "Call" in relationship to the diaconate in a follow-up post today. The questions you raise are precisely the ones we ought to be asking.

My response to Terry would be: Yes, God does have a special concern for the poor, and all of these institutions have roles to play. My problem with the Call and other similar campaigns, e.g. What Would Jesus Cut?, is that they don't put enough emphasis on the roles institutions other than the federal government have to play.

For those of you in or near Grand Rapids, you are invited to join one of these upcoming events.

A Conversation on "A Call for Intergenerational Justice: A Christian Proposal on the American Debt Crisis"

A panel discussion with Q & A, featuring Dr. Gideon Strauss, CEO, Center for Public Justice

Last week, the Center for Public Justice and Evangelicals for Social Action issued "A Call for Intergenerational Justice: A Christian Proposal on the American Debt Crisis".  

This event is co-hosted by Peter Vander Meulen, Coordinator of the Christian Reformed Church of North America Office of Social Justice and by Tom McWhertor of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee

Thursday March 10

Noon - 1:30pm

Erie Room of the Christian Reformed Church of North America Office Building

2850 Kalamazoo Avenue, SE

Grand Rapids

SE corner of 28th Street intersection, across from Meijer

Free and open to the public

Please bring your own lunch and plan to join the conversation

Questions? Contact Doreen Skillen at the Center for Public Justice, 410-571-6300

Opposing Views: America's Debt Crisis and 'A Call for Intergenerational Justice'

This event is hosted by the Acton Institute and features Dr. Gideon Strauss, CEO, Center for Public Justice and Jordan J. Ballor, Research Fellow at the Acton Institute.  Mr. Ballor has criticized the Call as demonstrating "very little principle" and consisting mostly of "leaps in logic based on unstated assumptions about the role that government should have" in providing social assistance.  The Action Institute invites you for a night of discussion about government debt, federal spending, and how faith communities should understand the responsibilities of social institutions in addressing the problem of poverty.

Thursday March 10

Derby Station

2237 Wealthy Street, SE

East Grand Rapids, 49506

6:00pm Grab a seat & beverage

6:30pm Discussion begins

Free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so the Acton Institute encourages you to arrive early.

These are such good questions to be asking; dialog is difficult but necessary. Sometimes with difficult dialog it's good to establish together a process and rules for the dialog that can be agreed upon - for example, during this dialog we agree to treat everyone with respect; search for the truth rather than repeating lies; agree to disagree when needed; etc.

I've also found Soujourners a helpful resource in thinking about some of these issues. They have a campaign called, "What would Jesus cut?

Thanks for asking!

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