Monday, March 17, 2014

Hope & Encouragement on Church Giving - Lesson 10

Are you discouraged by the current state of your congregational finances? Maybe giving in your congregation seems to be below average or maybe you have a large church debt; this would not be unusual as church giving since the 2009 recession has not been this low since the great depression.

But there is great hope, for example:

Our teaching pastors did an excellent series on generosity during Lent in 2013, called "40 Days of Generosity". Our church has trained 350 people (about 15%) in our congregation in Biblical Financial principles using the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University.  Between the sermon series and the congregational training, we have been on track with giving for most of the year, even during the slow summer months and we ended the year 5% over budget for the first year ever. Strong teaching on generosity and Biblical financial principles faithfully taught overtime can make a significant difference in the giving of the church.

Many churches have already borrowed significantly for building programs or other initiatives. Borrowing is not evil or sinful, in and of itself. But scripture never speaks of borrowing in a positive light. I am hoping that the Biblical principles in these posts will be an encouragement to churches to get on a path to financial freedom, to get out and stay out of debt.

It takes courage to follow this path. Because debt is so easy to participate in and is so common in our culture, people feel threatened when confronted with the truth of scripture. Scripture challenges our sincerely held beliefs and what we were taught all the way from high school to business school.

Statistics tell us the citizens of our great country on average are borrowing 35% more than their incomes, this is not how scripture teaches we should live. It is up to the Church to be a counter cultural example in a culture going the wrong direction financially.

One excellent example of this, is young adults and credit, especially student loans. With the student loan epidemic now topping one trillion dollars, exceeding credit cards, financially many of our young adults are committed to a decade or more of debt repayment. Debt for these young adults will side track their futures at time when they should be making good choices for careers and family. With an average of $28,000 in student loan debt this generation has to make choices to take jobs that pay well so they can pay the loans back ("borrower is slave to the lender"). They cannot be a missionary, be a teacher in Christian school, teach in a low income school, or be a stay at home mom: which are all very high callings, but low income careers. If the church took a stand on this issue and we taught our students to get their education without going into debt their futures wouldn't be controlled by debt.

So be encouraged, teaching in this area has very far reaching effects.

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