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Gaining Momentum as a Church Financially


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I’m in debt. I am a true American.”~Balki Bartokomous

Interest on debts grow without rain.”~Yiddish Proverb

The only man who sticks closer to you in adversity than a friend is a creditor.” ~Unknown

Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.”~Unknown

A church debt is the devil’s salary.”~Henry Ward Beecher

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Debt stinks. I think I’ve heard someone say that before. Debt often has regret tied right to it. And regret stinks as well. I’ve been writing about money for the last few weeks. This week, I want to look at debt and the church as a whole body. Before we start, here are some definitional things to look at first. Those of us involved in a local church are part of that church family or church body. You could go as far as to say that the churches who claim Christ in a given area are the body of Christ in that city, town or village (Colossians 1:18, Colossians 1:24, 1 Corinthians 12:27).

Here’s the idea…debt stinks for the church…the body your a part of. If there are 100 people in a given church, and 50% of them are tied to debt, 50% probably are in a spot where they cannot give like they want to. 50% of them are probably in a spot where, if the church was called to fill or reach a specific need, they could not participate fully because their bills are a priority over their church family’s ministries. Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that these people are bad or unfaithful. Hear this…confession time…if this church were real and I was a member, I’d be in that 50%! Many of you would be right there with me. I wish I hadn’t made some past financial decisions. I know that my impatience, my greed or selfishness has my family in a spot where we cannot give to our neighbors, community, our church, or those in our world like we might have been able to otherwise.

Picture a church family that has little to no debt. Now, I’m talking about two things here. I’m talking about a church budget that doesn’t include debt payments and the individuals in that church family that are near or out of debt. Think about what they can do. Think about what they can give. Think about the spontaneous things they can provide to people in their community. Think about the open doors they might have where I see closed doors because I have “payments.”

We have talked about debt creating a ‘slave to the lender’ scenario (Proverbs 22:7). From that verse I get a sense that ‘freedom’ is at stake when we have debt. Peace is at stake when we have debt. We know in our gut what it would feel like if we had no student loans, no car payment, no credit card payment for that big family getaway weekend that happened eight months ago. We know don’t we. We’d yell “FREEDOM!” We’d have more peace. We’d be a bit closer to that “…life more abundant…” that we hear Christ talk about in John 10:10.

How about the church family? Is your family…your church family…living that abundant life? Where your resources are provided for so much, and you’re in such a free and peaceful spot that you can stop and move as God calls you to with no hesitation? The closer we get there the more momentum we will have. Momentum creates excitement. Momentum helps us feel more as we always should. Momentum can help a community see Christ in newer and more consistent ways. It keeps the ball rolling. Debt stops that ball.

What can you do to help create more momentum in your life financially…and in the life of your church family? What steps can you take this week…maybe even today that will put you on that path. Maybe its saying “no” more to the weekly expenses you feel tied to but aren’t necessary. Maybe its getting rid of some stuff that will help pay off loans. Maybe its a whole shift in your life outlook. A young Cameron McCabe was answering a question for me years ago in Kid’s Worship Time in our church family. The question was, “What can we do as young people (2nd-5th grade) do to serve God. Answers were flying around. Huge, big, crazy, Sunday School answer type answers that really weren’t applicable but sounded really Biblical and religious. Cameron, frustrated with the answers, looked at me and said, “Just do something!” Some of us need to heed Cameron’s advice. We probably know many things we need to do. Let’s start with 1 thing and start.

If we all start to do something that will enhance our ministry to others and to our church family, momentum will increase for us. It will not only be noticed within our church family. It will be noticed by those around us. They will see our lifestyle of freedom. They will see the peace that passes understanding the Bible talks about. They may even see it as something that is so attractive they want a part of it. Maybe that will be someone in your immediate family. Maybe it will be someone in your workplace. Maybe it will be your neighbor. Imagine what you’ll be able to say when they ask the big question, “Hey, there’s something different about you. What is it?” You’ll be able to say that you’re living more like God wants you to…like Jesus lived.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Be thankful for the needs that all of us have filled daily through the providence and miracles of God.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

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