Stephen Judd | 13 Mar 2023

Being Christian can be risky

Christian organisations struggle with risk. On the one hand, risks were taken to start most of them in the first place. They were probably established by a single Christian or a group of Christian to do things that businesses and governments did not – or would not – do! Such as hospices for the dying, caring for the poor and needy, ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of First Nations and immigrant peoples. When you come to think of it, most Christian organisations were established to take on risk!

However, as these organisations grow and their financial and human resource issues become more complex, the vision and faithful entrepreneuralism of the Christian founders begins to sound a little cavalier for new board members and managers. For many of these men and women, ‘risk management’ ends up being little more than a euphemism for attempts to eliminate all risk.

Some readers might think this allegation an outrageous slur. Others might plead that I am stuck in the ‘good ol’ days’, not understanding the constraints on today’s directors and executives.

Not at all!

You only have to look at the risk management statements of so many Christian organisations. These statements rightly cover risks such as financial risk, cyber and IT risk, business continuity risk, insurance, and compliance risks. As such, they are almost indistinguishable from risk management statements of secular organisations.

So, what is missing? The approach to risk within most Christian organisations is devoid of theology. Have they articulated what their Theology of Risk is? I have my doubts and this gap means they are more likely to reflect the secular culture in which they live.

In Keeping Faith: How Christian organisations can stay true to the way of Jesus, John Swinton, Kara Martin and I discuss two organisations whose approach to risk is shaped by their over-arching Theology of Risk, and discover that, far from being dismissive of risk, these are some of the best approaches to risk that one will find!

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