It isn't a surprise to anyone who has been watching such things, but our economy is not what it used to be. For many areas across the country, jobs are scarce. Other areas are decimated in regard to work, and the young families of the workforce are moving to cities for employment and educational opportunities. For those churches in the city-centers, the effects of this trend are not felt as harshly as is experienced by churches that are outside of the urban sprawl.
The truth is that our economy has moved to a "gig economy" in a global environment. No longer do young people expect to go to college, get a career, and work one job until retirement. The average "careers per lifetime" sits somewhere north of three. That means that you are unlikely to be still working in the same field as you are now in ten year's time.
The offset of this "gig economy" is the "global economy". No longer are the members of our church vying for a limited pool of employment in their small town. Now, they apply for and accept positions across the country, and even around the globe - and move to take those jobs.
Part of this global economy is a vast pool of "freelance" workers that gain their income working online in everything from writing and coaching to graphic design and journalism. This is where things get interesting for a church family that wants to take advantage of global trends to reach the world.
This gig/global economy combination offers the local church some significant global opportunities.
Online freelance work can:
- Provide work and keep church members in town working from home rather than moving away.
- Allow a small church to get secretarial, design, translation, and a multitude of other helps at a reasonable cost from Christians located in other parts of the globe without hiring full or part-time.
- Give missionaries who need to work to supplement their missions support the opportunity to work online, from the field, without breaking the laws of the nation in which they reside. (Most missionaries cannot work where they live because their host nation sees that as taking a job from a native of that country. However, online work originating in North America is seen differently.)
- Allow the possibility of tent-making in remote areas of the country to become a very real opportunity.
- Give church members the opportunity to serve Christ by serving other churches in distant / remote places.
- Open the door to part-time and seasonal foreign missions as gig/global employees work from international locations while helping full-time missionaries.
- Enable churches at home to give work to members of missions churches in foreign countries.
Whether the gig/global economy will last till Christ returns is hard to say, but it is certain that this is not going away anytime soon. Because of this, we should seriously consider some of the positive ramifications of this new global dynamic and the doors of opportunity that are opened up for both the local church as well as foreign missions.
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