Do you know much about the prosperity gospel? Prosperity teaching doesn’t allow for risks, or threats, or setbacks, and it influences most of us. Jim and Tammy Bakker were rumored to have an air conditioned dog house when they led a Christian ministry, but later Jim wrote a book “I was Wrong.”
In Edmonton Alberta a real estate speculator was active for a few years named Kevyn Frederick, or Kevyn Sheldon Frederick, or Kevin Ronald Frederick, or possibly Portia Frederick. When he moved on, he left behind a ruined condo complex in Leduc (pictured), one of Edmonton’s premium hotels in receivership, and a large church without its land or building. Mr Frederick is rumored to be living in Las Vegas, or possibly Ethiopia.
So how did this disaster happen to a large prosperous church?
Let’s not indulge in “kick them when they are down” criticism, your mistakes and mine are only better because we have hundreds of dollars to toss around, and not millions. Christians generally have a problem with the concept of risk management. Those church leaders didn’t see disaster coming when they refinanced the mortgage. When we build something new, and trouble comes, we are puzzled and we may agonize and wonder where God is.
We should plan for risk as a normal part of any project. Risk management for projects is a standard business practice. ISO 3100:2009 defines risk as “the effect of uncertainty on objectives, whether positive or negative,” “Positive” means to me that too much prosperity and rapid growth can be a disaster. Look up “Flappy Birds” the video game that was canceled because it was too successful. We should hope for what we have planned, not more or less.
In the Bible, Nehemiah took on the project of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He was a skillful manager and he planned carefully, and he believed God was with him. His reconstruction project started well; and then it all went wrong. The enemies of Israel didn’t want a prosperous Jerusalem, and they planned a military attack.
They also undermined morale by spreading rumors about Nehemiah’s incompetence, and the people got tired and complained about the work. Also, some in Israel began selling their neighbors as slaves to collect personal debts. I don’t know why Nehemiah didn’t quit at that point, but instead he prayed and patiently re-planned his project. He reconfigured staff assignments to include security, he fixed the slavery thing with a mighty explosion of his temper, and he brought the Jerusalem wall project to completion.
Much of Nehemiah’s story is about management of overwhelming risks and threats. We never read that he was unspiritual or that his problems were strange and unusual. Nehemiah could tell you that we have an enemy who seeks to devour us and our best projects.
That church in Edmonton is now meeting in a rented facility and trying to rebuild.
So what are you working on in 2014, a business, a career, a weight loss program? Do you know that trouble will come? So what are your plans to deal with setbacks and roadblocks? Do you think you are unspiritual if you have to fix problems and redesign the project?
Can you name one major Bible story where risk didn’t happen? Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest disciples, his treasurer Judas, and he was deserted and denied by the others. Yet his project had a successful conclusion.
Your project needs alternative plans, risk management options; and then you should remind yourself what your goal really is so you don’t lose your way in a storm. I recommend reading the book of Nehemiah; it’s overlooked by most of us. And may God bless you as you bring your project to a successful conclusion.