Economy: Church as Sustainable Local Economy

Global thinking can only do to the globe what a space satellite does to it: reduce it, make a bauble our of it…If we could think locally, we would take far better care of things than we do now. The right local questions and answers will be the right global ones. The Amish question “What will this do to our community?” tends toward the right answer for the world.

~Wendell Berry, from an essay, “Out of Your Car, Off Your Horse”

Ask millions of pet owners what difference a locally based economy might make and you get a sense of the value of such an enterprise. Wheat gluten, apparently bought in China, has sent shock waves across the economy of a nation. Similarly, the health impact of tainted spinach was far reaching. In the final analysis, dependency on global markets and resources outside of our region has made us vulnerable to conditions that are, quite literally, out of our control.

What would happen if the church, that is the community of Christ followers, were to regard themselves as the first tier of economic relationship? If we began the process of becoming relationally aware of the goods, services and trades that are available among the community of followers, and then committed to operating within those relationships, would we be benefiting one another and the local economy as a whole?
I’ve been ruminating on this thought for some time. I want to consider its implications. Jim Wallis, in one of my favorite quotes points out that

“As long as most Christians are more dependent upon the powers and principalities of the world for their survival and security than they are upon the Christian community, the church cannot do anything other than conform to the world. We must see through biblical eyes that our lives and our very spiritual survival, personally, economically, and politically, must be centered in the Christian community.”

Challenging thought. So, what might happen to the church between the worlds if its members began to take Wallis’ words seriously? The logical question to ask in response is, where do you start? I’m thinking the logical answer might be to start taking intentional steps toward economic interdependence.

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