Economics is the social science concerned with the allocation of scare resources among unlimited wants. Since our wants surpass the resources available to fulfill them, scarcity exists and a rationing device is needed. In the United States, dollar price is the primary economic rationing device.
Dollar price allocates U.S. resources and coordinates a very complex economy in a seemingly effortless manner. Consumers use price in deciding which product to buy. Businesses want to offer the best product at the best price with the best service to increase profits. If successful, resources flow to their business and allow it to prosper. If unsuccessful, losses occur, which may threaten their business. Students strive for more education and superior grades in the hopes that they can obtain a good job with a high income. Employees strive to be more productive to obtain a larger bonus or a promotion.
The common activity of driving to a restaurant to buy a hamburger, fries and soft drink involves the coordination of thousands of decisions and activities. The rancher has to raise the calf and send it to market at the correct time, to provide the beef to go into your hamburger. The wheat farmer has to till the ground, plant the wheat, harvest the wheat and send it to the flour mill in preparation for your bun. Similar coordination must occur for the vegetables, condiments, paper wrapping, napkins, transportation, and a host of other factors. Coordination must be precise. You expect your hamburger, fries and soft drink to be ready when you arrive unannounced at the restaurant. The dollar price rationing device makes the process seem simple.
In the kingdom, how do we allocate and coordinate our expenditures of time, finances and efforts to accomplish all that He has called us to do? How do we teach our congregation to allocate their resources according to the King's priorities? Failure to use our resources for the right things, at the right time, in the right amounts almost guarantees failure in what we have been called to do. The greatest risk in our churches is not trying and failing; it is succeeding in what we have not been called to do.
The world is hurting. Poor people are plentiful. Unsaved are everywhere. Sin abounds. Families are under severe stress. Our youth are faced with challenges and temptations that could not have been imagined a few decades ago. These issues seem to be increasing at a faster pace and from more directions than at any time in recent history. Resources are insufficient to do everything. Priorities must be set. Our churches must be focused on mission. We must not divert our attention.
Allocation of our resources must match the priorities the Lord has given us. The following principles will help:
- Have a written vision statement; a short one- to three-sentence description of the Lord's vision for your ministry.
- Have a written mission statement; a brief one- to five-sentence description of what the Lord expects you to accomplish.
- Have five-year objectives that contribute to your vision and mission. Each five-year objective should be concise and measurable.
- Have a few year-long objectives that contribute to each five-year objective. Again each year-long objective should be concise and measurable.
- Have action plans for each objective in which the budget funds each objective and you assign responsibilities to departments or individuals.
- Monitor and review progress toward each objective periodically (monthly or quarterly).
- Be open to the Holy Spirit's direction for new opportunities, challenges and direction.
"His master said to him, 'Well done, you good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter the joy of your master" (Matt. 25:21).
Dr. James R. Russell is professor of economics and chair of the Undergraduate College of Business at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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