Money, sex and power. Three of the most significant and enduring dangers facing churches, church leaders and Christians.
Jesus spoke extensively on all three topics with many of the New Testament letters addressing unhealthy situations caused by them. Still today, modern media feasts on churches where scandals and failures arise in these areas or where Christians seem to fall below the high standards of the gospel.
In this series of blogs, we start with 'Why is the way the church handles money important?'; and then explore what it takes to be a church which does that and what might this look like in a church like yours.
Why So Important?
1. The Power of Money
First, it is important because money is not ‘neutral’; it carries power and allurement. Jesus said “No one can serve two master... you cannot serve both God and money.” Money is characterised as a rival god; a power seeking our worship and devotion.
He also said: “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” But for many of us in the western world (individuals and churches alike), money is often used as a way of “keeping score” or feeding our insecurities. Money and possessions are used to define who we are, and to define our success and our status.
With the love of money described as a “root of all kinds of evil” we need to confront the power of this rival god.
2. Raising the standard
Second, it is important because for a subject spoken of so openly in the Bible, churches are generally silent about money, except when they need it! Are we:
- Providing discipleship in generosity?
- Calling for a radical heartfelt change in the way that we think about and handle money?
- Understanding how money should flow through our churches for the benefit of others and the Kingdom?
Often, as churches, we have either grown comfortable in this silence no longer questioning ourselves or our attitudes towards money OR speak too much in ways that do not reflect the full message of Jesus. We can and should raise this standard.
3. Leaky buckets
Third, it is important that our churches are not leaky buckets, allowing money to seep away in ways which:
- Prevent us being good stewards;
- Frustrate the mission;
- Alarm regulators;
- Demonstrate naivety or over control.
Churches which administer money well do not have to be controlling or restricting. In fact, because they have a good understanding of their financial situation, they are able to be more generous and are undoubtedly more effective.
4. Doing what is right
Fourth, in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 (the inspiration of this blog series) we read that we should do what is right in the sight of the Lord and also in the sight of man. Churches that handle money well are not only ‘safe’ but become beacons of good practice and a demonstration of the gospel.
Churches which are able to handle money well will generally:
- See engaged and discipled church members and supporters;
- Be able to fulfil the New Testament call to be generous and well resourced;
- Be operating with best practice in managing money; and
- Be a church that is ‘good to give to’.