• Ben Disney

Day Traders and the Demise of the Church

Day Trading is the term used to describe financial investors who are highly leveraged in a risky, unpredictable, and volatile stock market focusing solely on short term daily gains and profits. It’s the opposite of having a long-term, disciplined investment strategy. Day traders buy and sell stocks based on the whim of the market on one single day. It’s a high risk, high stress, and highly exhausting endeavor. Once the market closes, they wake up the next day to start all over again.

Day traders never think long term. It’s all about getting as much as you can as quickly as you can. Does it work? Apparently not well and not for long. According to managers of day-trading firms, about 90% of day traders are washed up within three months. Most day traders will eventually lose all their money.

One of the dangerous temptations for church leaders is to fall into the trap of day trading. That means making short term decisions designed for quick wins and immediate results without considering future implications or consequences. The truth is: we do it all the time—to the demise of the church.

How can you tell if you’re in danger of acting like a church day trader? Here are some clues:

  1. How are we going to pay the bills?

  2. How do we keep the doors open?

  3. How do we get through this crisis?

  4. We need to get more new members to help keep the church going.

  5. If we don’t do something fast we’re going to be in trouble.

  6. All we need is a better minister. That will change everything.

  7. There are people who aren’t carrying their weight around here. Somebody needs to tell them.

  8. We’re just trying to make it to the end of the month.

  9. I won’t be here in another five years. We’ll let someone else deal with it later.

  10. We can’t possibly do that. It will upset too many people.

Contrast that with long-term, disciplined, Kingdom-oriented strategies:

  1. What’s our primary, non-negotiable mission as a church that guides every decision we make? (insert: make disciples of Jesus Christ)

  2. If we make this decision, how will it affect the church and community in ten years? 20 years?

  3. Is this decision focused on building the Kingdom, or is it more about institutional survival?

  4. Are we choosing to make this decision because it’s right? Or because it’s easier?

  5. What would Jesus do? Seriously, what would Jesus do in this instance?

  6. Are we opting for a quick fix, temporary band-aid approach, or are we serious about addressing the core issue?

  7. When was the last time we did something bold and remarkable for the sake of the gospel? When was the last time we experienced an epic failure because the vision was so grand and the risk so high? When’s the last time we swung for the fences, aimed for the stars, or launched a Hail Mary for work of the Kingdom?

  8. Is our aversion to conflict and our desire to keep people happy at all costs keeping us from making the hard and necessary decisions?

  9. By procrastinating and not making a hard decision now, are we delaying the inevitable and creating a bigger problem we’ll have to face later?

  10. Sometimes, we’re afraid we might be asking too much of our people. They’re hungry for the gospel and ready to give themselves to something greater. Maybe the real problem is that we’re asking so little of our people.

Whenever I see a successful, organization or a fruitful, vibrant congregation, it tells me someone has made some hard choices. Or, to put it another way:

The Righteous Shall Live by His Faith.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:2-3