March 15, 2018

Mission and Money

Luke 16 verse 13

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Personally for many, our financial health is fragile and in some cases dire. A 2017 GOBankingRates survey indicates of the 8,000 respondents 39 percent have $0 (nothing) saved. The reasons are varied for this stark number. It includes chronic unemployment, underemployment, poor money management, insufficient retirement funds, catastrophic illness, government policies etc.

Likewise at many of our churches we are constantly concerned about the lower pledge and plate intake, the death of generous givers and the lack of tithing of members. This concern is further driven by the higher cost of building maintenance along with salary and benefits for our clergy, all necessary expenses.

Given these stressful situations, like the manager in this parable of Luke, we are tempted to make some questionable choices. Note that our choices are not usually illegal we know not to cross that line, but if we examine some of these decisions based on our Christian values they would not pass muster. In one unfortunate example a church made investments in questionable financial products recommended by a parishioner and in their desperation for high returns lost it all.

One trap that many may fall into is being told by well-meaning parishioners that we need to “run the church like a business”. The church is not a business, it is a ministry, so while some business practices are portable, the process and outcome should be different. We are part of the Jesus Movement and should act accordingly.

In response to these financial stressors, it does not mean that we have to take a vow of poverty or join the prosperity bandwagon. It simply means going back to our basic Christian values of prayer and faith with works, trusting God to provide the blessings that are best for our needs.

This blog is part of a series for the Good Book Club. Learn more about the Good Book Club here.