Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lunch time thoughts on Consumer Income and Missions

This article came out based on Labor Dept. statistics: here. The general idea is that 2011 like 2010 had lower consumer income and lower spending. Food out, entertainment, and giving to charity took the big hits while money was transferred to gasoline and increased food prices.

It makes one wonder. In our missions participation, our missions partner denomination says that national level giving has remained at a level that drops slowly the past few years. How is this impacting the Great Commission? If the trend remains as it often does in the American context, since things normally regress, how will it affect international missions 5-10 years out?

Worth exploring in more depth...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Boredom

When it comes to that fog or lack of interest at work, apparently there is solace in community. It turns out that reputable poller Gallup reports 55% of workers are not engaged with their work. (mid 2005) in the USA. Interestingly, The Guardian paper reports 33% of UK'ers are bored at work most of the day. (early 2003)

Human resource and staffing experts reported at 45% of respondants that they had lost people who were bored at their work in one past survey.

What is boredom? This article explores the matter. The sense of boredom the article goes with includes a tedious or fatigue related attitude. So it isn't necessarily lack of something to do or being inactive per se.

It seems like part of this can be overcome with living for Christ in purpose. Philippians 1 addresses some of this challenge to a believer in Jesus. Paul was fatigued (he had plenty to do though) with his missions efforts, not because they were boring but because he knew something better awaited. He changed his perspective and refound his purpose when God convicted him and he felt it necessary to keep up his work efforts, so that others could benefit for his King's glory. Indeed, the above article says focusing on others can help overcome boredom. That sounds like a very decent Christian response, and exactly what helped Paul to have some earthly good later in life.

The Lost Generation - Why People in their 20's and early 30's have been humiliated by the recession

As far as it goes with economics being largely social science with math brought in to track trends or remove false assumptions, there is an interesting piece that came out on how those who are in their 20's and 30's have been facing hard times in this economy. On my day off I've been pondering some of these trends.

It is here on this link. (May also be found here.) In essence, those who are graduates are not getting jobs in their fields and are instead entering service sector jobs that don't pay as well and every year drain down their level of expertise they had when they graduated. When things do eventually improve, it says, they are going to have to compete with those who are fresh out of training / school, who may have an advantage. That is why the article calls it the lost generation. It has been my experience that many of my friends in their 20's and early 30's are in the exact bind of this article. That's the only reason I posted this, is because I believe it is a real social phenomena in the consciences and angst among young adults after college, and occassionally after high school. There is also an article out today tracking a trend in one state, that 40% of new jobs in Texas (which seeminly broke the recession job killing...) were filled by legal immigrants, 40% by illegal immigrants; leaving only 20% of the impressive jobs number going to non-immigrants. Many legal immigrants are highly skilled or receiving status through a company that needs their abilities so they are helped through the process (tedious as it unfairly is). Still, it seems odd that is going on with so many talented university grads available as well. Regardless of what one thinks about such issues, the bottom line is that social effects are being felt by the 20's to 30's demographic as they are sidelined nationally, in every state, by businesses not hiring as much in general and by lack of experience holding them out of the few positions available.

Perhaps in the first article that explains why many graduates of high school and college are just living with mom and dad still there. In the Christian culture commentary area, this Census data and economic perspective creates an additional commentary on Al Mohler's ideas about this age demographic staying in "play time" mode (put off marriage, buy toys longer, etc). Even if Mohler's thesis is true (not saying I agree really) the current problem is even if people of that age want to move on, they are structurally unable to do so. I can't stand the victim mentality, but in truth these are literally victims of economic hardship decisions in businesses. If they aren't getting jobs, or at least jobs that pay well enough to support oneself with medical insurance, mortgage costs, car costs, hospital bills, utilities, college debt, and so on, then they're just trying to survive. You can hardly be hard on someone who is just trying to make it and who is continually dogged by unattractive long-term options in this climate.

This is some social phenomena that reveals an interesting perspective of what is going on in a generation seeking its place in a different USA. One economist from Harvard in the study said that generation will be 'scarred' by all of this. Sounds like he is right on, people are already getting burned by the situation with lasting production possibility frontiers decreasing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

1991

In 1991 a NASA satelite that did Upper Atmosphere research was launched from the Space Shuttle. Now with the Shuttle retired and the satelite about to fall to somewhere on earth in the next three or four days, another milestone related to 1991 has hit. According to the USA Today reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman, American have changed their religious beliefs since WWII in a way that has had impact over the past twenty years in a noticeable dent. This long term result is that now she says we can sing "Gods bless America" rather than "God bless America" since "the folks who make up God as they go are side by side with self-proclaimed with believers who shed their ties to traditional beliefs and practices." George Barna underlines that unfortunate trend, stating that "310 million people with 310 million religions" is an appropriate description of the American landscape. In 1991, still 49% of US adults in a typical week attended a church service. Today it is 40%. In 1991, 24% of adults polled hadn't been to church in six plus months. Now it is 37% of adults 20 years later. A consequence Cathy says, quoting Barna is that: "for every subgroup of religion, race, gender, age, and region of the country, the important markers of religious connection are fracturing." She summarizes his research that has recently come out that argues 7% of those polled in 2011 can even agree with 7 essential doctrines of the historic Christian faith. If I remember Barna correctly, this is extremely basic teaching that is not receiving consensus; things like truth is not completely relative because of God's revelation the Bible, Jesus Christ is Savior, and the devil is an actual spiritual being not a fiction. To sum it up people now say they believe in God or are Christians, but then believe whatever they want. As an aside, even as in the Christian church there are leaders like Webber who want an ancient-future connection, bringing back historic teachings for worship, all of a sudden the culture is not interested. The only exception is if they are customizing their beliefs, and don't care about the guidance of those ancient sources. Cathy calls the phenomena "hopscotch spirituality." It is a "'designer' society. Other #s: 8% less people attend Sunday School, 5% read their Bible outside of church less, and 7% less define God as the all-knowing, all-powerful ruler; compared to 1991 versus today. This is an interesting trend. Surely it is a missiological challenge, especially also in how to make decisions in church planting/Christian philosophy.