If you are not healthy in your personal finances, then I believe you lose the authority to make financial decisions for the church. Hand that responsibility to someone else. Dismiss yourself from that meeting.
I am sure my list of church economic principles will grow as I grow and mature, but over the next several weeks I will share my current thinking on managing finances in the church. While nothing I will share will be amazingly profound, I do believe these principles will carry a ministry through times of abundance and times of shortfall. As a leader, I began to jot these down during a time when our giving was well below our planned budget.
Thought one: Manage church resources with the same care you manage your home’s resources.
When the apostle Paul gave the requirements for elders, he said, “If a man cannot manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” (I Timothy 3:5) God has used that verse to challenge me to manage resources in His church with the same care (or greater) than I manage resources in my home.
In our home, we have always spent less than we took in. When our income adjusted downward due to my wife staying home with our new baby, our spending adjusted downward as well. If I treat my home with that type of forethought and planning, I should treat the church the same way.
In our home, we have always paid cash for everything that depreciates. We have never had any credit card debt or car payments. Since Proverbs 22:7 says, “The debtor is servant to the lender,” we always viewed debt as slavery. We have, however, been comfortable financing a house as a house appreciates (overtime). If I apply this same thinking and care to the church I serve, this means I would be uncomfortable financing anything other than property or a facility that appreciates.
My challenge to you is two-fold.
1. Are your personal finances healthy? If not, you will surely carry some bad financial habits into the ministry you lead. If you are not healthy in your personal finances, then I believe you lose the authority to make financial decisions for the church. Hand that responsibility to someone else. Dismiss yourself from that meeting.
2. If your personal finances are healthy, do you treat the church with the same care?
What are your thoughts? Am I advocating wisdom or is this a bit legalistic?