Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Family Economics Conference 2012

Last weekend I was at the Family Economics Conference, hosted by Generations with Vision. I have been an intern with Generations with Vision for over a year, and I was there primarily to put on the conference. But the work I did allowed me to still listen to many of the talks and panel discussions, and I thought I would share a few things that I took away from the conference.

(And before you wonder what this conference has to do with the Christian philosophy of food, we should remember that our food is a product of work, and how we work with our food will influence what we eat. In addition, what and how we eat influences our daily life and work (and vice versa). So when thinking about food it is very important to step back and examine our work and life from a biblical perspective.)

1. The trains are coming Kevin Swanson opened up the conference with a picture of our current society, and it didn't look pretty. There are several 'trains' coming to collide, such as the declining American GDP, the retiring baby boomers with their increasingly immature children taking the reins of society, the increasing disfunctionality of the family and the growth of the state, the de-relativizing of the Bible and Christian Ethics and the growth and acceptance of immorality, the pride in humanistic science building bigger and more centralized systems prone to fail and fail big time, and the list goes on. Basically, our current system does not look like it can survive the way it is for another 20, 50, or 100 years. People are loosing hope and faith and are largely unmotivated to work with purpose.

2. We must trust God's Word for society While the world around us may be failing and falling, we have reason to build and thrive in the ashes. Christ is "head over all things to the church" (Eph. 1:22), and "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good" (Rom 8:28). For those who love God our current situation is for our good. And those who love God do so by keeping His commandments in faith (1 John 5:1-5). The solution to our current problems, whether they involve economics, politics, culture (e.g. food), etc… is to return to "the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Is. 8:20 KJV).

3. Biblically, the family is basic to work and dominion This may be considered the main point of the conference. This was brought out in many ways. For example, in the Ten Commandments we can see that the 2nd (against graven idols) is muti-generational in scope, the 4th (concerning the Sabbath) implies that your son and daughter are working with you and should stop on the Sabbath, the 5th obviously establishes that foundational to blessing is the honor of father and mother in the family, and it is this that is extended in principle to honoring other authorities. In the 7th (against adultery) it protects the stability and unity of the family, and the 8th and 10th (against stealing and coveting) protects the strength of your neighbor's family economy. Other examples of this biblical connection between the family and work were the households of the patriarchs, Aquila and Pricilla, Adam and Eve, etc… When a family is unified in its work, then it can function much better as the covenantal and relational unit that God made it as. (And included in this point is that, in fact, the family is also basic to education, to culture, to church, to commonwealth, and to society in general.)

4. A host of practical suggestions This probably took up most of the conference, and is the hardest to summarize. The best way is to get the recording of the conference. Teaching family members to work with their different skills in unity is very important, but also takes much wisdom. Some things covered were marketing strategies (e.g. importance of personal communication skills), choosing the right business, how to handle money (and what money is), how to integrate the family into the household economy (whatever business it is, and whoever the children are; be creative), how to get started, etc… One thing I thought was a great point was to teach children to be producers, even before they are really are being profitable.

5. Sweet fellowship One of the best parts of the conference was the fellowship of other people and families on the same journey with a similar vision for rebuilding our society on a Christian foundation. I saw many dear friends that I had known for a while, some that I hadn't seen for two years, and I met new friends as well. It was one things to hear the vision for a biblical family economy, but to see real families that were doing it, and others that are going to attempt it in one way or another was very inspiring. The food at the conference (held at the Wheaton College facilities) was very good and added to the beautiful atmosphere of brothers dwelling in unity (Ps. 133).

To sum it up, here are the words of Doug Phillips on what we were there for:

"What we mean by family economy: 'The God-designed, culturally transcendent, generationally oriented, household-based social structure designed to honor the Genesis 1:28 command of fruitfulness and dominion, by which families maximize their cultural and economic influence and seek to prosper with the blessing of God and under his law.'"

With God as our help and defender,

-Peter Bringe

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