loren Eric Swanson: Government, Business and the Church

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Government, Business and the Church

Recently Rick Warren was on Tim Russert's Meet the Press (December 24, 2006). During the program Tim asked Rick about the giant problems of the world. Here is Rick's answer...which I thought was very instructive:

These problems are so big, Tim, that everybody’s failed at them. The United Nations has failed, the United States has failed. And the reason why is because we have not worked together on these issues. Last year at Davos I kept hearing people talk about public and private partnerships. And what they meant was, we need government and businesses to work together on these big global problems. These are problems that affect billions of people, not millions. And when they said that, I said, “Well, you’re right, but you’re not quite there yet. You’re missing the third leg of the stool.” A one-legged stool will fall over, a two-legged stool will fall over, and business and government alone cannot solve these problems. They haven’t, or they would’ve. The third leg of the stool is the churches. There’s a, there’s a public sector role, there’s a private sector role and there’s a faith sector role. Each of the three legs have something to bring to the table that the other doesn’t have. Government brings three things to the table on these issues. First, they bring safety and security. That’s the primary job of the government and that is, keep me safe from terrorism or from war so that I can live in peace. Second role of government is to provide freedom so I can prosper. I can go out and I can start a business if I want to and give me freedom. And the third is, set laws and enforce them because somebody’s got to put up stop signs so we’re not in chaos. The church can’t do that and business can’t do it. There’s a legitimate role for government to do these things. Now, when we talk about poverty, disease, illiteracy and things like that, businesses have a role that government can’t play. Business brings to the table expertise in technology, in health and all kinds of things. They bring capital to the table. Enormous investments. And then they bring, this one’s really important, management skills, because most governments, most businesses and most churches are poorly managed. But if we’re going to solve issues like poverty, disease, illiteracy, corruption, trafficking, all these other things, the church has to be invited to the table for three reasons. First, we have universal distribution. I could take you to 10 million villages around the world that the only thing they’ve got in it’s a church. In fact, in most of the world, the only civil service society is a church. They don’t have a clinic, they don’t have a school, they don’t have a post office, they don’t have a bar. They’ve got a church. Millions and millions of—the church was global 200 years before anybody started talking about globalization. In fact, it’s the only global, truly global organization. There are 2.3 billion people who claim to be followers of Christ. Now that means the church is bigger than China. It’s bigger than India and China put together. So universal distribution. Second thing it’s got is it’s got the greatest pool of manpower. One out of every three people in—on the planet claims to be a follower of Christ. If you mobilize just a billion of those people for these issues, you’d solve it pretty quick. The third thing is, local credibility. What I mean by that is on these issues like poverty, disease, illiteracy, you just can’t go into a village with a program and expect them to accept it. And you have to have credibility. Well, that priest, that pastor, that minister, or for that matter, in the Muslim world, the imam or a rabbi, they have credibility because they’re marrying, they’re burying, they’re with the people in the stages of life. And frankly, I trust them to know more about their community than any government or NGO would ever know.

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16202841/page/4/


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