Since the economic collapse in 2008, a shift has been taking place in the American consciousness- from a culture of buying and spending, unlimited credit card debt and hefty mortgages to precisely the opposite of this mindset. Today, a culture of debt elimination has emerged, especially toward credit card debt-but, all debt, too-to a commitment to save more, even downsizing one's lifestyle and the square-footage in personal housing. From a cultural mindset characterized by "more and bigger" today's "New Normal," as it has been called is a mindset characterized by "less and smaller."Church leadership should "tighten-its-belt" as well on spending, debt service, salary increases, etc., and be perceived by members as doing so without resistance or complaint by leaders. In the next decade, churches and church leaders perceived to be addressing the human needs, as well as the spiritual, local, global or "green" needs of planet earth, will find people willing to support it. Those churches and leaders who possess an apocalyptic view of the future that focuses on escaping the challenges faced by humans and the planet will be increasingly marginalized and accelerate their own numerical and financial decline.2. As a matter of practice, make sure you say "Thank You" for member support at least three-times as often as you say things like, "We need your help." Send quarterly "thank you" letters to members that are addressed to them personally (ie., "Dear Bob and Mary..."), along with their statement of giving for that quarter. Make sure the letter highlights a specific ministry/mission accomplishment for the previous quarter (ie., faith conversions, new members, a facility that just went "green" or was painted, updated, or the number of households served by the church's food pantry, a mission team report, etc.). People give to people and to projects they deem worthy in serving the cause of Christianity. Put a "face" on these letters so that members are reminded that their generosity is making a difference in someone's life.3. Make use of "generosity testimonies" throughout the year, not just a budget promotion time. Listen for those stories from members who are facing hard times but remaining faithful in their giving and finding God's presence and provision to be adequate. Enlist them to share their story.
If your church has been around for a while and you are reading this article, chances are your church bulletin needs a bit of an updating. Bringing new life to your church bulletin can benefit your church in many ways. Follow these tips below to make some quick, but good improvements to your bulletin.1. Keep it Fresh The simplest, yet most important part of bulletins is to keep them fresh. Bulletins should always have exciting new content such as news, events, facts and so on about the church that members would be highly interested in. The more relevant and useful your bulletin the better it will do.A good idea would be to publish a new church bulletin before the beginning of each month so members can prepare for upcoming events. This gives you a bit of extra time to hand out the bulletins and it gives the members time to read up and plan ahead. Always be sure to collect old bulletins before you put out the new ones and make sure everyone knows that each month new content will be in the bulletin.Like a blog, people expect to see something new and useful each time they read it.2. Get Feedback The quickest way to make accurate improvements is to go directly to the members of your church and ask for feedback. An easy way to do this would be to hand out a survey, do an online survey or ask members individually.
The Greek general election on June 17 presents a clear political choice on whether to continue with the ‘austerity’ measures imposed by the Troika of the ECB, EU and IMF which have caused a disastrous economic slump. Greek GDP fell by over 13 per cent between 2007 and 2011 and contracted sharply again in the 1st quarter of 2012. In real terms the compensation of employees has fallen by approximately 15%. The cause of the slump is the investment strike by capital, down nearly 47 per cent since the slump began and accounting for nearly 90% of the entire fall in output.
Yet Greece is just the sharpest expression of the European crisis, which at the very least is likely to see the continent as a whole remain in a depression. This is a Europe-wide crisis and it requires continent-wide solutions.
As the first step, it is necessary to address the claim that the ‘austerity’ measures (which are actually designed to cut wages and non-wage benefits) are necessary to close the deficit in public finances. As EU Commission projections show, the Greek government’s ‘primary balance’ is a deficit of just 1 per cent of GDP (see table below). The primary balance is the balance on government finances once debt interest payments are excluded. The very large total public sector deficit arises because of interest payments amounting to 6.3 per cent of GDP. The EU projection is that the primary deficit will rise to no more than 2 per cent of GDP in 2013.
Four years into the international financial crisis, it is clear that the economic policies followed in Europe to deal with it have failed to do so. For a long time, there was a refusal to examine the real facts of Europe's economic situation and take the appropriate policy measures. Once Europe does start to analyze its economic problems correctly, however, it will see that it has a lot to learn from China. Naturally this does not mean that Europe can mechanically copy China's approach, but there are important trends which Europe can study.
The fundamental trends in Europe's economy are illustrated in Figure 1. This shows the changes in different components of the European Union (EU)'s GDP since the first quarter of 2008 – the peak of the last business cycle and immediately before the onset of the financial crisis. It may be seen that the negative trend in the EU economy is entirely dominated by its fall in investment. The EU's trade balance has improved during the financial crisis, government consumption has risen, and the fall in personal consumption is relatively small. But the fall in fixed investment is huge, amounting to 150 percent of the total decline in GDP. This fall far more than offsets the performance in other economic sectors. The economic situation in Europe is therefore entirely dominated by this investment fall.