I thought of writing a thank you note to Franklin Roosevelt. Watching the coverage of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, I am grateful for the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in the first weeks of his first term in 1933. His foresight is still making America a better country. This isn’t 2008, but people are nervous. Our financial system is only more interconnected now than it was then. It’s easy to see a contagion spreading across small to mid-size banks nationwide. I become nervous when I hear financial reporters use the “it’s wonderful life” analogy to explain what’s occurring with bank failure.
Why am I talking about a run on a bank that funded technology start-ups in Silicon Valley and spooked investors worldwide? It reminds me of the disaffiliation process. Think of our churches as branches of small to medium-sized banks. We’re not the most extensive operation in the world, but we’ve branches in small towns across America, Africa, the Philippines, Russia, and elsewhere. Over the past two years (at least), we’ve experienced a faith run on our congregations. In countless congregations, particularly across the south, our parishioners have rushed to withdraw their faith in and from the local churches. Unlike the federal government, there is no FDIC or Department of the Treasury to stop the run or guarantee the deposits of the account holders. When there is a run on the faith of a local congregation, no one is made whole. Everyone loses something. We all come away diminished and broke.
Some annual conferences have taken FDIC-like actions, virtually shutting down the disaffiliation process in their respective jurisdictions. In my annual conference, the disaffiliation process is proceeding at pace. These actions (in conferences limiting disaffiliations) do not, as in the fears of a banking crisis, do not stop churches and Christians from withdrawing their faith in the church, each other, the denomination, God, Jesus, family, friends, or other things. Disaffiliation is still spreading like a financial contagion. At first glance, faith appears to be hemorrhaging. Faith can be removed, lost, and taken at any time. I see this happening every day.
On the other hand, we can grow our faith and deposit mustard seeds, day or night. Jesus’ bank never closes. We can halt the massive faith sell-off with a single mustard seed. Our mustard seed is insured. Our FDIC is the empty tomb. If you’ve lost yours, go to Jesus. He will make you whole, give you another or help you find the one you’ve misplaced. Despite the demands and stresses of this process, you do not have to lose faith. Jesus is still Jesus. God is still God. Hold on to your faith in God. Our faith in God and God’s love for all humanity matters more than any legal process or the value of our church property.
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