Can you point to any verses indicating the Lord’s work was ever maintained or sustained through acquiring debt in scripture? A church loaded with debt is not necessarily provision from God or answers to prayers of a well-intentioned congregation bent on being benevolent.
A financial song and dance routine is trending in countless churches today. Many congregations are struggling in the financial arena. Offering plates are coming back from the aisles often lighter as some professing Christians are bringing in less tithes and offerings into the storehouse.
“Will a man rOB God? Yet ye have rOBbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we rOBbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have rOBbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:8-10)
There is much false teaching flourishing among Bible believing Christians concerning money in today’s church. Some teachers may proclaim tithing was under the old covenant in the Old Testament; therefore man is no longer bound to tithe in the New Testament church today. This is false doctrine as tithing was established in the Old Testament prior to Moses receiving the Law from God; therefore tithing is not bound together with the law of the Old Covenant.
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.”
One looming factor affecting church finances is the doors of many churches revolve continually bringing people in and out of attendance. Tithes and offerings can fluctuate like the wind, ultimately making any kind of financial planning akin to taking a stab in the dark or blindly pulling figures out of midair when budgeting. These parameters are not necessarily forming a consistent and reliable blueprint for church leaders to plan for the future.
Sometimes leaders push congregations to rely heavily upon future expectations and offerings as the members are led to vote for their church to assume a debt for a church build or expansion plan. The project may seem financially sound today but those same members and/or church leaders may leave the church tomorrow and not be personally responsible for any lingering or prolonged debt. Future repayment is pushed onto a faithful remnant and those joining the church in the future. If every church member were held personally responsible for repayment; diving head first into a building project might be harder to initiate. Church membership might approach a building project by relying more upon the Lord’s leading by much prayer and contemplation, not following man’s ideas and taking a leap in the dark.
God instructs us both personally as individuals and collectively about financial affairs in His Word. We are to be a light shining brightly in the darkness, including in the realm of worldly financial affairs, willing to teach and mirror holy financial responsibility. Proper fiscal responsibility may not always include taking on more debt. Christians are to give, via freewill offering, to the Lord’s work through their tithes and offerings. Some give out of any portion leftover after everything else is paid, others by following the law grudgingly, and others give sacrificially and generously beyond ten percent.
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)
If a church seeks funding from the worldly banking system to finance a building project for buildings needed to worship and teach the truth of God’s Word, is that contradicting the His nature and holiness who could, if it is in His will, provide any necessary money by divine providence?
Remember the manna the Lord provided for the Israelites as they roamed about in the desert, fulfilling their needs quite sufficiently and consistently for forty years. We are called to be a peculiar people separating ourselves from the values and the “standard operating procedures” the world upholds. This must also include being separated in the financial and business arena and include how churches conduct their financial affairs in this world. God would not lead a church into supporting a mission field or spiritual undertaking without providing the needed financial structure and support.
NOBody can ever out give God. The opposite of borrowing funds is giving money away.
God wants to bless His people and churches to overflowing.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. “ (Luke 6:38)
Maybe the prOBlem lies in the fact that many individuals and churches are not always OBedient to God’s commandments. Many are harboring sin personally, and in their church. This can place roadblocks in the path of the growth, for getting the gospel out, and spiritual growth of its members.
“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)
If we look into the Old Testament research the matter of debt, the bible teaches that the borrower becomes a slave to the lender. Looking at debt from this viewpoint, burdening the church with debt is totally contrary to the gospel. The gospel is all about freedom and breaking away from bondage and oppression and sin. Not all debt is considered bondage; however, excessive debt certainly would be akin to a yoke of bondage encircling and suppressing the functioning of the church and it membership.
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Galatians 5:1)
Anyone who preaches a “gospel” which includes an excessive debt burden, and proclaiming it to be God’s will to do His work through acquiring debt, does he preach a false and misleading gospel message? Debt is not freedom; it is bondage! Promoting bondage in the church is a matter which must be closely examined in the light of His Word and entered into carefully and after much careful prayer and study. Debt can be necessary at times, even in a church, but not always the most beneficial avenue or the path God would lead a congregation or an individual in Christ down in all given circumstances.
When a church goes into debt are they serving two masters? The danger of compromising the truth becomes very real. One cannot be loyal to Christ and at the same time not be loyal to the truth, because Jesus says, “I am the truth.” A church in debt can easily become a church of divided loyalties. The church and it’s leadership may have the best and honest intentions of staying absolutely loyal to the truth, but in times of financial trouble looming; in meeting financial OBligations they may opt to do all, or anything necessary to please the people, so they, in turn, will continue to attend the church services giving loyally and sacrificially their tithes and offerings.
God tells us to walk by faith; Money conditions us to walk by sight.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight:” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
God tells us to set our minds on the things above; Money, or lack thereof, tends to draw our attention to things of the earth; the possessions we have or those we might think we have need of.
“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin”: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matthew 6:26-29)
God tells us not to be anxious for anything; to keep our focus on Him. The truth is that the church cannot serve both God and Money and remain unified. Countless churches have been set back spiritually by an inability to sustain or pay off debt. This can create an oppressive and burdensome atmosphere where hope is pressed down and false doctrine can thrive and flourish. Essentially God may even be standing outside many churches that are sinking fast knee deep in debt and looking in forlornly at their lukewarm disorder. He has promptly been ushered to the curb and rejected so a weaker message of compromise and half-truths can be given from the pulpit to sustain their current membership numbers.
Jesus told us to spread the Gospel. He gave us all the great commission as our life long mission for serving the Lord and spreading forth the gospel. Fulfilling this great commission takes us out of our church house and onto the highways and byways of life to find those He leads us to who need to hear the message of the gospel of Christ. People do not come knocking on massive and fancily built church doors begging to hear the message of salvation.
Frankly, our service to Christ most often takes place outside the church house. Men tend to place their focus, attention, and service inside the church house. We must get ourselves busy in God’s back yard, in our immediate area, and across the oceans; the harvest of souls is ripe for our witnessing. Where God leads He also provides the means to accomplish His will.
From Genesis to revelation God is known as many names that all individually encompassed the nature of God. One of these names is “Jehova-Jireh” or God will provide. Not did provide, but will provide in the present tense. He will provide for His own children now and for future needs. He continually provides from Genesis in the past all the way up to Revelation in the future.
“And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.” (Genesis 22:13-14)
One of the most important things to take note of in these verses is that God did provide a ram as a substitute sacrifice for Abraham instead of the need to sacrifice his own son, as Abraham was OBedient to God. Abraham’s OBedience was necessary to fulfill the will of God. This was a picture of Jesus’s death on the cross for our sins. Jesus’s OBedience to the cross was necessary to fulfill God’s will. God looks for our OBedience to His will in our life as well.
Luke 14:28-30 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Faith is a huge contributing factor in planning church finances but it is not the only dynamic in the decision making process. Your local bank’s accounting depends on actual dollars deposited and not on a faith basis of collecting funds. Therefore, faith plays a big role in trusting God for the necessary resources, but does not account for the entire financial well-being of a church. Financial faith then is not simply testing God to meet the perceived needs of the church, but faith requires OBedience to God along with discernment and planning carefully for the future according to sound scriptural doctrine, avoiding any appearance of wrong mismanagement, and accountability to others.
Any church project has two types of costs; cost of materials from start to finish of the project, and the all-important personal cost of OBedience to Christ in the center of the project at hand.
In conclusion: God wants to bless His church. God wants to bless His people. He wants to provide for His will to be done. God wants all churches to be abounding in His work. He is ready to bless those churches who give Him first place, who give sacrificially over and above what He asks. He does not need His ten percent back entrusted to you; but in OBedience to Him and His will he takes note of those who continue moving the circle of blessing, bringing back to His storehouse that which He gave, keeping this circle of blessing moving towards others in need.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
For Further Contemplation:
God wants to meet your personal needs. God wants to meet the needs of His church. God wants to abundantly supply all our needs to those who walk in OBedience to Him.
Are you searching the scriptures and meeting with Him in your prayer closet to hear His will for your life?