Facing Job Loss
About the Guest
Where do you turn when life gets tough? Today Dave Wilson, pastor at Kensington Community Church in Troy, Michigan, tells Dennis Rainey how the economy is affecting his church and state. With layoffs happening weekly, Dave encourages the body of Christ to not only pray for people, but to provide much needed community and support for those affected by job loss.
Where do you turn when life gets tough?
Facing Job Loss
Bob: That’s right and when they are brought onto the team…
Dennis: It’s called hazing.
Bob: They have to do an introductory skit.
Dave Wilson: And you know what my year was the first year you ever did this.
Dennis: You’re still bitter.
Dave Wilson: Yes, I am bitter but I still think it was the best skit ever done. When I saw your face when I was standing up there I thought I was fired.
Dennis: It was a great skit.
Dave Wilson: Well, who knows.
Dennis: I mean you pushed the boundaries out to the edge. I was a little tight.
Dave Wilson: Yes, you were. Probably still are.
Dennis: Here comes Dave and Ann you were both dressed in like teenie bopper outfits or something. I forget and you did this dance where you threw her over your head and around your back. I mean it was …what’s the new dance show that’s on tv now?...
Bob: Dancing with the stars.
Dennis: He was the original. Dave Wilson was the original.
Dave Wilson: I learned that night that Dennis Rainey hates rap.
Dave Wilson: This was the 1988 or 1989 and we decided to put our life story in a rap. We’re from the motor city. We’re from Mo Town. Come on you got to rap. So that’s what we did and as I got in the rap with the one glove Michael Jackson look oh, Dennis, you were sitting there. You’re jaw was on the floor. I’m like okay we’re fired.
Dennis: I was dying in laughter absolutely. Well as God would have it he would guide this rapper ultimately into becoming a pastor.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: And this has amazed many I know in the Detroit area.
Dennis: But Dave went on to be the teaching pastor of the Kenningston Community Church which is now a church of 11,000 rappers…
Dave Wilson: Very few rappers in this church.
Dennis: You have three sons and Dave is also the chaplain of the Detroit Lions and has been for over 20 years. Dave, Bob and I just wanted to talk with you about what’s happening in the Detroit area because unemployment there has gone way past 15 percent.
Bob: Yes, I would imagine that pretty much every week you’re hearing about somebody in your congregation…
Dave Wilson: Oh, definitely.
Bob: And you get the phone call and it’s guess what so and so just got laid off. What do you do? How do you respond to that not just as a pastor but as a friend?
Dave Wilson: You’re right. Probably about a year ago that started happening weekly almost daily. Even as I flew down here yesterday there were 1600 layoffs at GM. I’m guessing 50 maybe 100 people in our congregation are a part of that. Some of our staff wives there husbands’ work there. Yesterday I was in a meeting and she literally sat in our meeting looking at her cell phone the entire morning waiting for the call.
It’s a scary time. I think one of the biggest things and you guys know this is community. Community is huge in that moment. If you’re not connected in a smaller group some kind of family group you are all alone. Having people to rub shoulders with and lock arms with maybe those that have jobs maybe those going through the same thing is key to sustaining through that scary time.
Bob: Having that community is important for emotional support and prayer support but again I’m just thinking if somebody called and said I just lost my job for me to say we’ll be praying for you feels a little like that passage in James 2 where somebody comes and says here’s my deal and you say be warm and filled. Not to minimize the importance of prayer in that moment.
Dave Wilson: Right. Right.
Bob: I do think we need to be praying for one another and engage in that but is there more that we ought to be doing for those who have lost their jobs?
Dennis: Yes. What is the first response that a believer ought to have to someone who has lost their job?
Dave Wilson: I think it’s a great opportunity as scary as it is for the church to be the church. For the community of Christ to be the community of Christ which means be there. Be present. It may mean move in my basement and that’s happened.
A good buddy of mine in my small group has had several different people go through his basement. It’s not a slab basement but a finished basement with a bedroom and a bathroom down there. He puts them down there. He feeds them. He takes care of them as they try to get back on their feet. This is sometimes a couple and sometimes a family with three or four kids. I think that’s the biggest response. Obviously like Bob said pray. You have to pray. You can pray with them. Lay your hands on them. And you may have the whole community pray.
But bigger than that is the presence of Jesus in a human being. Flesh to flesh…Be there. Welcome them in your house. We’ve bought meals for them or taken meals over to their house. We’ve shown up with grocery bags. I mean that’s happening all over our community. And again I think it’s an opportunity for the church to be the church. I think the non church world looks out there and they expect that.
You know. Is the church going to show up and for their own? And even for those who are not a part of their church? I think it’s a great opportunity as scary as it is. I don’t want it. None of us want it. We hate it. But yet it’s an opportunity for the church to show up and be the church. And you know this isn’t the first time this has happened.
First century church that’s what the church was. A community of people sharing goods and their possessions. And it’s a chance for us as the community of Christ to be Acts 2.
Dennis: Is there a place in the local church now I know you have a huge congregation you have how many services on a Sunday?
Dave Wilson: We do campusing so we do 14 or 15 services counting the five different campuses.
Dennis: So you have audiences from a few hundred to several thousand meeting together.
Dave Wilson: Right.
Dennis: Is there ever a time when you call for the community of believers just to say if some of you here have lost a job hold your hand up if you need a job and you need prayer and you’d like for someone to contact you about helping put together a resume and a game plan for where you go as a man as a woman as a family.
Dave Wilson: Right.
Dennis: Does that happen in your church?
Dave Wilson: Yes, it happens not so much on the weekend service but we provide opportunities outside a weekend service. Come to a seminar. We’ve had business people come in and help people with resumes. Help them network. We can do it on a weekend service. We literally are sitting with about 2000 people in each service so it’s hard to do. So we try to do it in a smaller setting but you’re exactly right. And even hearing you say that why wouldn’t we do that with 2000 people? Have people stand up and yell come up to the stage whatever. Pray for them.
Dennis: But you think about that 2000 people if you have a sampling of your community that’s 300 people.
Dave Wilson: Right.
Dennis: That’s 300 people standing up needing prayer. But it seems to me it’s rally time for those who have a job. Who can help and may need to give sacrificially and in fact I think it’s what the Christian community ought to be facilitating. That connectivity that prayer for that person. The help as your church is providing.
Dave Wilson: And like we said before it’s don’t go to church be the church. It’s one of our mantras. Be the church. What would be the church look like in an economic crises. We would be putting our arms around people and doing what you said.
Bob: The spiritual dimension in all of this. To be able to go to someone and pray for them to remind them of what is true. God is your provider. Again you can say all of that but even as I’m saying all of that there’s this little thing in the back of my mind going that sounds hollow to the guy who is going I know God is my provider but GM used to mail the check and God’s not mailing checks today at least as far as I know. There’s part of me that thinks that even reminding people of what’s true spiritually does that really buoy their faith or does it cause them to go how come I’m not seeing it happen then.
Dave Wilson: I think they need to hear truth like you just said from the word of God. So even on a weekend we’ve done a series. We’ve done a series called uncertain times where we were trying to communicate truth. They have to be reminded. I have to be reminded who is God and where is God? He’s still sovereign. He’s still in control.
I can look at a ticker tape every day or I can look at God’s ticker tape and it says the same thing it said before this economic crisis. He is the rock. He has not moved. Where is he? He’s on the throne. Where is he? He’s with me. But it’s like you said. It is empty. It reminds me of the Keith Green line. You guys remember this one, God bless you be at peace and all of heaven just weeps.
Dave Wilson: It’s that line where you can say one thing but if you don’t stick your hand out and help someone or if you don’t invite someone into your home or walk beside them on a lonely road it’s just empty words. So truth with a body with a personal presence of Christ made known through the person of Christ is both needed.
Bob: So you’re seeing people opening their homes…
Dave Wilson: Yes.
Bob: And other folks just moving in with them.
Dave Wilson: I’ll tell you what. We’ve talked about it on our own staff.
Dave Wilson: In some ways it’s tongue in cheek but I don’t’ think it’s as tongue in cheek now as it was six or eight months ago as we started talking about layoffs in our own staff and pay cuts we’ve already taken. Looking at our budget and our finances as a church that has people losing their jobs who can’t give or who are struggling to give. We have literally looked at each other and said maybe you’re moving into my basement maybe I’m moving into yours. We’re not going to stop the mission but maybe it’s going to be done differently because we don’t’ have the resources to do it the way we’ve done it.
Bob: When you think about that I mean thinking about the possibility that budget cuts or even job loss might put you in a position to where you’d have to put the house up for sale and I’m guessing there’s a lot of houses up for sale.
Dave Wilson: Nobody is buying.
Bob: You’re trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage. Moving in with somebody down the street in their basement you and Ann. I mean if you actually thought that that might be a possibility in a couple of months wouldn’t there be part of you going…no I need to look for another job somewhere else in another part of the country. I have to find another way to fix it other than that.
Dave Wilson: And every person I’ve talked to has done just that. They are leaving the state of Michigan. It’s not a lot better out there but it is better than where they are right now. I’ve laid in bed many times in the last several months with my eyes wide open looking at the ceiling feeling the sweat…I’m a person who stands up there on weekends and say trust God and here I am struggling myself to trust God. I haven’t lost my job and I’ve only taken a 5 percent pay cut at this point. It may be 10 percent by next week but God is still faithful and still providing and yet I’m scared. I can feel it in my soul.
Dennis: But what do you think about God to that very point? I mean honestly I think there needs to be that kind of transparency. What do you think about God in those moments of doubt, fear, anxiety, and worry?
Dave Wilson: Let’s say it’s a 30 minute anxiety attack. The first 20 -25 minutes is fear thinking what am I going to do? Where should I go? Should I start looking at other opportunities? What am I good at? What can I do? Where’s the possibility of some extra income? Can I take some speaking you know whatever. That’s probably 20-25 minutes of a 30 minute fear.
Dennis: Trying to fix it yourself.
Dave Wilson: Oh, yes. Literally laying there looking over at Ann thinking is she awake? I don’t even want to share this I’m just going to stay alone in my own man world and I’m just going to struggle and maybe not sleep. There have been times where I didn’t sleep the whole night. The last five minutes…
Dennis: Now wait a minute. Before you get to the last five minutes I want the ladies to understand this is the way a man thinks. He wants to figure out how to solve the problem. And these problems today they are not easily solved.
Dave Wilson: No.
Dennis: It’s not a matter of dialing up a number or calling a friend. In some cases like General Motors the problem is even bigger than the federal government is going to solve.
Dave Wilson: Exactly. There is no solution on the horizon. That’s the scariest part of it.
Dennis: So take us to the five minutes.
Dave Wilson: The five minutes. I wish I could say it was five minutes of fear and 25 minutes of comfort but the last five minutes is God has always been faithful. I’m sure a lot of people can do this but I know for Dave Wilson I can literally go back through my life year after year, month after month and see God faithfulness.
It’s laughable that I’m laying there in fear and stress when you look at my life and the way he’s provided. From financial to a job the whole thing. It’s laughable that I could have any fear because he has absolutely been so…he has blessed us beyond measure and yet I’m still scared. But the last five minutes it’s like okay God what’s true? Who are you?
I’ve seen it. I know it. I can recite the verses that say who you are and your track record says you did it in the past. I don’t know how you are going to do it. I don’t know what the future looks like but I know this. You are immovable. You are solid. You care for me. You will provide. I don’t know what it looks like. I can’t figure that out and I don’t think God wants me to but I can rest and close my eyes and go to sleep with a sense of peace knowing that God’s in control. He always has been and he will be tomorrow.
Dennis: Psalm 31:14 says But I trust in you oh Lord. I say you are my God. My times are in your hand.
Bob: Now wait that’s Psalm
Dennis: Psalm 31:14
Bob: So have there been a bunch of anxiety verses before you get to 31:14?
Dennis: Oh, there are tons in there.
Bob: That’s what I’m thinking. What you’ve just described is the pattern that’s all the way through the Psalms. I went right to Psalm 13 where David writes, how long oh Lord. Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me oh Lord my God.
I mean you keep reading and then finally you read. But I have trusted in your steadfast love. My heart shall rejoice in your salvation I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountiful with me. So there is this great out crying of how long is this going to go on but then the last five minutes I need to remember what’s true about God.
Dave Wilson: Yes. So I’m in good company.
Bob: Yes, you and David.
Dennis: You really are and yet it is the process we go through and the idea of rehearsing God’s goodness.
Dave Wilson: Right.
Dennis: I wish I could say every time that my five minutes of faith causes the 25 minutes of fear to flee but sometimes it doesn’t.
Dave Wilson: Right.
Dennis: I’m impressed that your moments of fear and faith only last 30 minutes. Some of mine have lasted a bit longer than that. You know what I mean.
Dave Wilson: Well, I’m just a lion
Dave Wilson: That’s what pastors do, right? Honestly there have been nights I couldn’t sleep.
Not just this last year but many times in my life in some ways for Dave Wilson it’s a stronghold.
Bob: You’re worried that you’re going to have enough to pay the next bill. Is that what it is?
Dave Wilson: The next bill. The mortgage. The future. The 401k…will I ever retire?
Dennis: Yes, but this is in the face of having a savings account. You have a savings account I’m sure.
Dave Wilson: Yes, but my fear is that my trust is in a number and an account not in God. If that number gets lower even $15 or $1000…there I am. There’s a savings account some people don’t even have that. Being honest that I’m trusting that what if that savings was gone and in this economy it could be in a year. Is God no longer faithful. He’s still faithful but it’s a stronghold. It’s a struggle.
Bob: So could you be content in somebody’s basement?
Dave Wilson: I don’t know. I hope so. I hope they are in my basement.
Dennis: I think you answered the question. Right now it doesn’t feel comfortable.
Dave Wilson: No.
Dennis: But if it’s the assignment then you choke down the shame.
Dave Wilson: Right.
Bob: And God gives the grace.
Dennis: And he gives the contentment. And I think just in terms of the church coming around people who lost jobs who may be enveloped in fear. I think it’s very important for us to understand the nature of shame. It causes people to flee and implode and not want to hold their hand up on a Sunday morning to say I lost my job I need prayer.
If we do that I think we have to couch our words encouraging people to come public with the need to say you know this is a safe place. If there is any place on the planet in this moment right now of any day of the week there shouldn’t be a safer place anywhere else. Think about it.
Dave Wilson: Exactly.
Dennis: The Christian community or the community of faith who follow Jesus Christ they ought to be people who welcome those who have fallen and been hurt and been wounded in battle. And say, come on let me pray with you. Let me help you. Let me give you my basement and at that moment to your point which I thought was really excellent Dave. At that moment we do express the love of Jesus Christ.
Dave Wilson: In action. Don’t go to church. Be the church.
Bob: And at the same time I think this is an opportunity we have to not only reach out with compassion but to start to be ready for the days ahead. It’s what you did with your church taking people through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace material. Start to get smarter about how we interact with money. Start to think more biblically about our stewarding responsibilities with our finances.
For years we have recommended that families get a copy of Larry Burkett’s Family Financial Workbook. It’s designed to be a very practical tool that helps families keep from being in financial bondage and helps get them better prepared for some of the challenges we are facing right now. And you know there are folks who have been wise stewards who are still experiencing challenges. I’m not trying to say that everybody who is going through a hard time has somehow not followed good sound biblical principles but part of the reason we’re in the mess we’re in as a country is because we as a country haven’t followed good sound biblical principles.
We’ve been spending more than we make. We’ve been too caught up in materialism. The kinds of things that get addressed in the Family Financial Workbook and I mention that because if folks are interested in getting a copy of that you can go to our web site FamilyLifeToday.com. The information you need about the Family Financial Workbook is available there. He’s got all kinds of worksheets that you can follow that help you structure and maintain a family budget. It’s a very practical tool that you can return to year in and year out.
Again you’ll find more information about the Family Financial Workbook on our web site FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call 1 800 FLTODAY and order it over the phone. That’s 1 800 “F”as in family “L” as in life and then the word TODAY. That’s 1 800 358-6329. When you do get in touch with us we’ll make arrangements to have one of these workbooks sent to you.
You know Dennis earlier you mentioned a number of passages that deal with how we counsel our own heart and soul in the midst of any adversity. It made me think about a message that you shared with our staff not long ago based on Psalm 34 several months ago. It is called Trials and Tribulations Finding Encouragement Hope and Help in Psalm 34.
We’re making CDs of that message available to listeners this month who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount. We are listener supported and we do appreciate those of you who have been generous in providing financial support for this ministry during these difficult economic times.
This month if you can make a $5, $10, $20 donation whatever you can do to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today we want you to feel free to request a copy of this CD—A message from Dennis from Psalm 34. If you’re making your donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com just type the word “trials” in the key code box that you find on the donation form so that we’ll know to send you a copy of this CD or call toll-free 1 800 FLTODAY. That’s 1 800 358-6329. Make your donation over the phone and just ask for a copy of the message on trials by Dennis or the message from Psalm 34. We’re happy to send it out to you and we so much appreciate your financial faithfulness and your support of this ministry.
Now tomorrow we’re going to talk more with Pastor Dave Wilson from Detroit about how we counsel our own hearts and souls in the midst of economic adversity. That’s coming up tomorrow. I hope you can be back with us.
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock Arkansas. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
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