For the past several years, a growing number of prophetically and culturally astute leaders are predicting the decline of the USA. Also, books like the New York Times best-seller The Harbinger have issued dire warnings to America based on biblical principles and Old Testament prophetic passages. There have been predictions as dark as the total breakup of our union preceded by mass rioting and chaos (catalyzed by runs on banks and economic calamities), to a severe economic crisis far worse than what happened globally in 2008. All in all, most of those to whom I speak portend a major financial correction is soon coming in the market.
Since the 2012 presidential election, there have been many ominous signs of huge American decline in global influence: China and Russia have been saber-rattling and spewing out military threats; the NSA spy scandal has alienated our allies and further validated our ideological enemies; the military is experiencing mass cutbacks in spending; Iran is continuing to move forward with their nuclear program with impunity; and the federal government continues to pump billions of printed dollars into the economy to superficially keep the nation afloat.
In many ways, I believe the greatest call of the church today is to prepare to serve communities in the event our state and federal agencies go bankrupt and cannot function at capacity any longer. The church needs to almost function as a shadow government and be ready, in the same way the church leadership and bishops took the lead in serving cities in the late fifth century after the Roman Empire's infrastructure collapsed.
I have firsthand experience in this subject (on a smaller scale). After the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, we in New York City were involved with mobilizing about 150 pastors to be clergy crisis responders; we networked and trained many professionals for future emergency responses; and we worked closely with the New York Police Department in our communities to monitor the state of affairs. The Body of Christ in our city organized a multi-site memorial service for the fallen heroes that was broadcast nationally! Also, after Hurricane Sandy, other leaders, both local and national, and I galvanized an emergency response to meet the immediate needs of the hardest-hit communities in the tri-state area even before FEMA and the elected officials knew what they were doing.
Unfortunately, these emergencies may only be a microcosm of the kind of national response we will need shortly if things do not change drastically for the good in our country.
Whether or not the USA will have a full collapse or just a huge shakeup, everyone I speak to with any knowledge of economics knows that a severe correction is just around the corner.
The following are some of the things the church can do to prepare for a national emergency:
1. We need to network our professionals together.
In every church there are professionals we can network together who can be mobilized to serve a community in the case of a disaster (folks in the medical field, emergency responders, military personnel, psychologists, community leaders, elected officials and the police).
2. We need to have storehouses of time-sustainable food and energy.
In case our distribution infrastructure is disrupted, churches can store generators, emergency equipment like first aid kits, flashlights and food that can serve the needs of the most vulnerable within their congregations and communities.
3. We need to have alternate forms of savings other than paper money.
A coming economic crisis may wipe out whole savings accounts. This is why many are purchasing gold, silver and real estate and finding ways to protect their money long-term although, in an all-out emergency, gold and silver will not be any help in the short term. Food may be the most valuable resource. (I am definitely not saying it will come down to this.)
4. We need to prepare our local congregations to lead with a biblical worldview in every area of life.
When there is social disorientation, it grants believers the unique opportunity to fill the vacuum of leadership in all the major spheres of culture. We need to capitalize on this opportunity by providing leadership with problem solving ability that is informed by what the Bible has to say regarding economic and political principles so that newly formed policy measures will be blessed of God and not perpetuate the same humanistic systems.
5. We need to have unity and communication systems in place among churches in every region.
During the critical hours in New York City in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack and also Hurricane Sandy, we already had key relationships in place among pastoral leadership in our city that enabled us to have practical strategic responses and galvanize help where needed.
6. We need to have long seasons of fasting and prayer for awakening and revival.
For several years before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we had already been galvanizing hundreds of folks from many different churches to pray because we sensed something ominous was about to occur. Consequently, after the attack, an incredible church planting movement was launched by several national ministries that has been slowly increasing the Christian demographic of Manhattan.
7. We need to have alternate systems of educating our children.
If there is a wholesale collapse of the infrastructure, the public education component will be greatly diminished, and in its place, many churches may have to start schools, and many parents may want to consider homeschooling their children as an option for the future.
8. We need to network with key elected officials and community leaders.
Every church will need to effectively utilize relationships with marketplace leaders on a large scale so they can respond to a community crisis if they want to remain relevant, especially if there is societal unrest and a deterioration of our most fundamental necessities.
Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He is renowned for addressing current events through the lense of Scripture by applying biblical truths and offering cogent defenses to today's postmodern culture. He leads several organizations, including The United Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (uscal.us). He also has a blog on Charisma News called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter go to josephmattera.org.
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