Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A heresy that I am willing to embrace.

Listening to a couple of sermons recently, and reading a thoughtful article in The Christian Century, I see a heresy that I am ready to embrace. I don’t want to recite the Nicene Creed each week in worship. I want to recite the Beatitudes in place of the Creed.
It seems to me that Jesus the Christ was living and preaching the Beatitudes and not the Creed. The Creed comes from, in my humble opinion, the hierarchy of the Church and not from the life that Jesus demonstrated in his words and actions.
This is simply my heresy this week. Thank Goodness I am not ordained!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

An interesting challenge

We have had an interesting challenge with our store. Should we, how do we, change banks?

For as long as we have owned the store we have been banking with one of the giant national banks. There have been many advantages to banking with them. Well established, they offer every business service we need. They are experienced at working with businesses both larger and smaller than we are. All of their products that we use are reliable. For instance, we can contact them any time, day or night, holiday or weekend, and they will be there because they are so huge that they never close.

They are also in many ways not like us at all. They do not conduct business with the same heart and mind as we do. They were part of the national mortgage scandal, their top executives are paid immoral amounts of money, they adjust all their services so that they always make money. When congress enacted new regulations that eliminated some fees and assured that others fees would be openly displayed this bank created other fees and hid them. Since last October several changes have been made without informing us. Our credit card transactions are more difficult and more costly now, and those changes were made without informing us.

There is a somewhat young, local bank that has shown us that they are trying to manage their business with a philosophy that fits ours. They offer significant personal care for each individual customer while still using sound business practices, and they are well capitalized and financially strong.

But, they are “small potatoes.” Can they be reliable? Can we trust the financial side of this ministry-which-is-the-store to them? Our financial future will be dependent upon working securely and efficiently with them.

Nancy and I have taken this decision path slowly and deliberately. We have verified with other businesses that this local bank does work the way that they claim. We have studied their business proposal with us and it looks sound, reasonable, and fiscally responsible.

One insight that we have learned in this time of discernment is that we do not need to move everything to the new bank at one time. We can wade into the water slowly and carefully. We can open an account and move part of our business to the new bank while retaining the old bank’s services. As we become comfortable with each part that we move to the new bank we can then move another piece to them. If we find some difficulties we can then move those parts of the business back to the behemoth bank with little loss, other than our efforts and time involved in the transitioning.

One of the joys that I experience in owning our own business is the challenge of making big decisions such as this. We have the freedom to change banks. We know that freedom involves responsibility to learn about and work with the dangers and rewards that come with the decision. As an entrepreneur there is the thrill of making the decisions and living with the consequences that do not exist when you are an employee of a boss, an institution, or a corporation.

We continue to strive to meet two goals: to treat our customers the way that we would like to be treated (“do unto others as you would want done to you”), and to keep the business of the store financially sound so that it will continue in the future. Perhaps this change in banking will help us to continue with our theology and business philosophy.