of the hot topics of this year is outsourcing – that is, businesses sending
functions (and jobs) to less expensive (i.e., non-U.S.) locations. Businesses
use outsourcing for the same reason people go to Wal-Mart: to save money. (And
all this time you thought it was the friendly greeters at the door attracting
all those shoppers.)
to a recent survey, 30 percent of Americans say they know someone who has lost
his or her job because it was shipped overseas. First it was manufacturing jobs
being shifted, because the company could open a plant in Mexico and pay 50 cents
an hour instead of $20.00 an hour in Chicago. (The problem for those same companies
will soon be that their labor force has moved to the U.S. in search of jobs
that pay more than 50 cents an hour.)
the outsourced jobs were “customer service” jobs – people who answer
the phone when you call to complain about a broken appliance or a software product
that is eating your computer. After all, businesses reason, if they can find
proficient English-speakers in India who can say “Not our problem”
for $1.50 an hour, versus the same answer from Des Moines for $8.50 an hour,
that’s money they can reinvest in developing new products that don’t work.
April 8 Arizona Republic even reported that Arizona’s Department of Economic
Security (the welfare office) has outsourced its toll-free help line to a company
employing callers in India and Mexico. Now when unemployed people call to find
out where there check is, they get a chance to visit with an employed person
in Bombay. (Which does cause one to wonder if it wouldn’t be cheaper in the
long run just to hire the people who are already getting the checks? But then,
I’m not a high-powered government bureaucrat, so what do I know?)
even more high-end jobs (such as computer programmers) are being outsourced.
Remember when the job counselors were advising everyone to go to school to learn
to be a computer programmer? Turned out to be less-than-solid advice, unless
you live in New Delhi.
all cultural trends tend to hit the church at some point or another, the outsourcing
movement offers a potential boon to church administrators everywhere.
example, instead of hiring a church receptionist, why not just outsource her
functions to a church in Singapore? Either one can answer the telephone and
sit quietly while members complain about last week’s potluck and prayer meeting.
why keep expensive American deacons/elders around when you could outsource all
your deacons meetings to Bangladesh? I’ll guarantee you you’ll get less complaints
about the monthly fellowship breakfast!
then there are all those pesky pastoral duties that could be outsourced. Why
do all that study, research, and sermon preparation, when you could just outsource
those responsibilities to an eager homiletics researcher in Manila? You can
probably get someone else to write your entire sermon, typed-up and ready to
deliver on Sunday morning. In fact, you could probably get someone else to preach
your sermon, videotape it, and ship it to your church ready-for-presentation!
I think that brand of outsourcing is already underway.
Duduit is Editor of Preaching magazine and President of American Ministry
Resources. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website