We spend our every day here at Financial Peace Plaza to convince people that being in debt is one of the dumbest things they can do. Along with that we spend a ton of time trying to convince businesses that there is no difference in what God says about finances for people and business. He doesn’t say, “Get out of debt, but only if it’s personal debt. Don’t worry about the business stuff, I’m down with that.” The truth is that the Bible says that the borrower is SLAVE to the lender. No special dispensation to the church in that statement. We confess that we are trying to be devoted followers of Christ, and we follow the things He tells us to do, but when it comes to the topic of debt we tell God, “Thanks for the help on everything else buuuuuut, I think I’m smarter on this subject.” The church is no different. As an individual we convince ourselves that the fact we were approved for a car loan must be a blessing of God. As a church if our Sunday service ends up with 3 people over capacity we convince ourselves that God wants us to go heavily in debt to build a bigger building.
As we tell churches all the time, people are tired of giving to a mortgage payment that has no end in sight. They will give to build a building that’s needed and paid for with cash, and they will give to pay off a mortgage that leadership is pushing to eliminate. But the every weekend speech about how much the church needs the money for the bills, and then they go further into debt, people are done with that. A recent report from Empty Tomb Inc. shows that while giving to churches is down, giving to religious organizations, such as World Vision and Salvation Army, is actually up. The reason is simple, people want to give to something that’s bigger than them. They want to give to something that they believe is going to change lives and a building campaign just doesn’t do it for them. Because of this fact, churches have had to cut the exact things from their budgets that make people feel good; missions, outreach, free cupcake day. Okay, that last one is still in place at most churches. The scary thing is quite a few churches are now taking out loans to pay their payroll.
The solution? Do what a small band of rebel churches are doing and get out of debt. Stop borrowing period! During Momentum I teach a lesson called Mission Matters. In there I show how the church should apologize to the church body by letting them know that they have made mistakes in the area of money and needs the help of the congregation to fix it. You would be amazed at how quickly the hearts of your people will LEAP on board the “pay off the church mortgage” train when you show that on the church is focused on change, and has bigger and better things that it wants to do. But it starts with being debt free. It is not uncommon now for churches to be calling in on the show yelling that the church is debt free and when asked how they did it they say that their people got fired up about what the people of God could do with a debt free church. Look at it this way, what are your other options? Keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing? Well, let me know how that works out for you.