The impetus was a question the Gospel Coalition received regarding money in the local church. Here is the question:
In this first installment, a reader in Texas writes:Oh my.
- I would like something that gives biblical direction as to how much money a church should keep and how it should be invested. I am on the finance committee of my church. They saved up a considerable sum of money and recently invested in long term debt instruments and stocks in hopes of gaining a greater return. I think this money was given for ministry, and my mother suggested, “If they have that much money and can play the stock market, then I will give my tithe to someone else with a greater need.” Any good ideas on how we should proceed? Thanks for your help.
Here is my answer to this write from Texas. Listen to your mother!
The bigger problem is that this misunderstands money in general. Giving in the New Testament was not to fund the operations of a local church organization or to save up for a "rainy day" so the local church wouldn't fail to meet its fixed organizational expenses. Christians joyfully sold what they owned and gave to those in need (Acts 2:44-45 and Acts 4: 34-35). They took up collections for the material needs of the saints in Jerusalem. They helped itinerant workers who were ministering in far away lands. If you were to ask Paul "Hey, we have a half a million just sitting around, should we invest that money to get a bigger return?" he would likely smack you upside the head and tell you to use that money to minister to people, not fund endowments. If a church has obligations that cause them to save up money for a rainy day, they need to find a way to get rid of those obligations to free money up for ministering to people, not perpetuating institutions.
It is heartbreaking to think about investing endowments and having savings accounts at churches in light of orphans and widows around the world who need food and shelter, to think of those lost without the Gospel around the world while we cut back on missions, to think of our neighbors out of work and losing their home. There are very real needs TODAY. This is no time for churches to be hoarding money to spend on themselves in the future.