Pearl Harbor Lessons for the Church
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, they made a colossal mistake. They bombed the wrong targets. The Church today is making the same mistake.
December 7, 1941, was our grandparent’s and great-grandparents’ equivalent of our generation’s September 11, 2001. It was Sunday morning December 7, 1941, when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on American military installations in Hawaii. The main thrust of their attack was the anchored Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. That attack launched America into World War II and forever changed our nation.
Most would read my opening and assume that I meant the Japanese missed the American aircraft carriers. Carriers were the most powerful sea force back in that day. Next to the carriers in importance were the battleships. On December 7th, American carriers were out to sea. While there were no American carriers in the harbor that morning, battleship row was full. The Japanese seemingly took full advantage of their surprise and sunk or run aground eighteen ships including five battleships.
Yet the Japanese missed what really could have crippled the American fleet – oil reserves specifically. For good measure, if they would have bombed the repair facilities, for the ships they were destroying the U.S. Pacific Fleet might have been forced back to the West Coast. While that might not have won the war for Japan, it would have at least elongated the war by a year, if not more.
If you destroy a countries infrastructure, you eliminate their ability to feed the troops beans and bullets.
That was what the Japanese on December 7th missed. They missed how important destroying the U.S. Pacific fleet’s oil reserves would have been. Simply destroying the unguarded oil tanks alone would have meant fuel replenishment had to come from the West Coast over 2,400 miles away. How many bombs would it have taken to blow up a fuel depot?
The Church is racing towards a Pearl Harbor that will sink its ability to do missions and ministry! For our country that war started on December 7th, 1941 with the surprise attack by the Japanese on our Pacific fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor. Quite simply we were caught not paying attention to the obvious and it cost us dearly.
In 1941 our nation ignored the signs around us of an impending attack and were unprepared for what happened. The signs were there and even as late as the morning of the attack radar picked up the flight of bombers headed our way. We simply did not act upon the information staring us in the face. That failure to recognize the looming threat and to be prepared cost thousands of lives and nearly cost us the war before it even started. The Church stands at a similar crisis that is being ignored.
Giving to the Church is in a continual decline and at the current pace, Americans by 2050 will only give barely 1% of their incomes to the Church! What this means is that many mission organizations and churches will cease to exist. The facts are there right before us. Yet few are talking about it and fewer still are doing anything about it.
Baby Boomers, the largest giving generation is moving into retirement soon. Baby Boomers now give more than any other generation. They are at the peak of their earning power and thus have more disposable incomes than their children. Despite what many feared of this generation they have given significant amounts to the Church. Now however that is in danger as they race towards retirement.
The combined inability of the Church to connect with Millennials and the coming retirement of Boomers puts being fully funded in jeopardy. What are you doing about it? Is the crisis something you think about and talk about to your staff and leaders? Or are you fiddling while Rome burns or rearranging the chairs on the Titanic?
Let me be blunt, don’t complain about the lack of funding for your vision if you are not actively doing something about it! I get that you might not know what to do. I understand it is complex and time consuming. I know your plate is already full and now there is this one thing that you must pay attention to. That one thing, money, is one of the things you hate to deal with the most. So, you do what most Christian leaders do, you ignore it. Ignoring it will not make it better and it will not go away. It will only get worse.
I can help you if you will let me. I have a plan that is easy to use, effective at increasing giving AND is affordable. Try it now and see for yourself. Let’s avoid a Pearl Harbor in giving at your church!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach