The more I learn about God’s revealed will, the more I realize how little I know. Every day I am overwhelmed by the depth of God. It seems like an everyday occurrence that I come across an issue or question that stumps me. Sometimes I think I’ve got a line on figuring it out and other times I just sit and scratch my head. Here’s one that has me puzzled: congregations, their bank accounts and net worth. That’s such a complicated and difficult subject, mostly because there’s so little specific direction or information from the Bible.
One thing about this topic that seems a little “strange” is how one-sided it is. I’ve seen many congregations that held large amounts of land and a substantial amount in their bank account. But I literally can’t recall a congregation that purposefully kept a specific low amount in their bank account.
I’m no wise old sage on this subject (or any other for that matter) but I’ve got to say it seems a little “off” for a congregation to hold on to a high net worth just for the sake of having it. Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand why this is the case. Take my congregation for example. I wouldn’t say that we’re sitting on a lot in our account, but we’re not hurting. And it seems like we tend to lean towards a more conservative approach with our money. That’s not a bad thing. But I think we’re more likely to err conservatively because there have been some awfully lean years in the past. I once heard one of our older members refer back to months when we had to choose whether to pay the electric bill or the mortgage. That was probably an exaggeration. But you get the point.
On the flip side of this (in terms of motivation), there have been congregations that bought land adjacent to theirs just because it was for sale. They didn’t have a specific need for it. Nor did they have any plans to use it. They just bought so that they wouldn’t be boxed-in or landlocked. Now, I don’t mean to give my congregation a pass and be judgmental of on another one. But in a case like this it would seem like the motivation does matter. Is that being a good steward with God’s resources? I struggle to say yes. Is it even being strategic? No, not really. If there was a reason to make the purchase and a plan behind it, then that would be something else. But to do it just because . . . that feels wrong.
So, there’s a couple of examples. Both happen to be actual real-life examples. You’ll have to make your own determination. But here’s my take on the issue. First, I think it’s necessary to spend money wisely. When the decision is made to make a purchase or support a ministry, do your homework. Know what you’re buying and what kind of return on investment you expect. Second, it’s foolish not to keep some emergency reserve money in the account. Rainy days do come. And it’s certainly nice to own an umbrella. Third, we’ve got to be purposeful when we plan for rainy days. At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, faith needs to rear its head and be a deciding factor on decisions. What do you think would please God more: a congregation that has been able to save and accumulate 100k in their account, or a congregation that stopped saving when they got to 25k and started giving the money away to further the cause of Christ? You decide.