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Pastoral Exhortation - Series of 2011

Borrow For Church's Projects?

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Sometime ago, I posted a brief article in my blog (pastorkoshy. info) on "Should a church borrow money to do God's work?" I noticed last week that there was a response to that article (which you may read by visiting my blog). Basically, there are three major claims in that response. Firstly, the blogger says that if it is possible, borrowing from financial institutions to fund a church's project should be avoided. Nonetheless, he claims that it is alright to borrow from sister churches and from its members. Secondly, he argues that my insistence on not borrowing for church projects limits the church from undertaking bigger projects and hence, it is being narrowminded. Thirdly, he urges that the church must encourage the members to go on a "journey of faith" and make "faith pledges" to provide for the big projects of the church.

Here is my response:

I am glad you take the position that as much as possible, one should avoid borrowing from the marketplace’s financial institutions to fund a church’s project. I would go one step further to say "No" to borrowing for church ministries. I am aware that several B-P churches have borrowed heavily from financial institutions. Instead of following their worldly wisdom, I would rather heed biblical wisdom on this matter. God's wisdom declares in Proverbs 22:7 - "the borrower is servant to the lender." What tragedy it is that the church becomes a servant to its lender! Being financially obligated to anyone can bring about many impediments to the progress of the ministry. For instance, it can slow down other important Gospel work which the church should carry out. So let us be wiser to heed divine wisdom in Romans 13:8 - "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another."

From the second paragraph of your response to my article, it is apparent that you have wrongly concluded that I "limit the scale of a project or timing of a major undertaking on the basis that the money must first be available". Please be assured that such a notion about me is far from the truth, especially if the project is perceived to be truly of the Lord. By the grace of God, I have taken leadership in my church to plan and begin several projects even before the church had sufficient money to start them, let alone complete them. In such a case, we sought the Lord in prayer, even with fasting, for all the funds we needed. We thank God that our faith has increased as each of those projects was completed. In those situations, our faith was firmly placed in the Lord who promises to provide for all our needs as we seek His kingdom and righteousness (cf. Matthew 6:33). Not once did we trust in financial institutions, sister churches or any wealthy Christian! This is not to say that sister churches and fellow Christians did not help. Many of them gave very sacrificially and generously to support our ministries; and we continue to receive their cheerful support with thanksgiving to God. But no one was a lender to Gethsemane B-P Church, neither was the church a debtor to anyone, except God.

I also take the view that asking members of the church to "make pledges upfront" is an unwise practice. I am aware that many a church calls their members to pledge funds which they do not have in hand or in their banks. They call it "faith pledge". In fact, Scripture only teaches us to give from what we have received from the Lord. We only need to encourage members and friends to give from what they have. Certainly, it is wrong to teach people to vow to give what they do not have. Ecclesiastes 5:5 says, "Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay" (cf. Deuteronomy 23:21).

On several occasions, I have met Christians who felt very guilty because they could not give what they "pledged by faith". They presumed that if they pledged "by faith", they would surely be able to give. Once, I met a man who lost his job and income after pledging a large sum to the church, and as a result, failed to fulfil his pledge. It is so frustrating when pastors and leaders of the church go after the members who "pledged by faith", saying, "Keep your vows." Instead, let such churches teach people to give willingly and cheerfully when the Lord provides. If the members pledge to give what the Lord has provided, then it is biblically acceptable. But to urge them to pledge what they do not have, and then hold them responsible for not giving that sum is not a biblical practice.

You charged me with narrow-mindedness and a lack of faith by saying, "I find some of your statements a bit too sweepingly 'narrow' and less faith-based." If you think it is narrow-mindedness to be biblical, then I am. I have no intention to lead my church through the unbiblical broadways of many modern churches. I also believe that prayerful obedience to God's Word will help us to fulfil all that He wants us to do for Him. As it is said, "God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supplies". We only want to do all that God wants us to do - nothing more, nothing less. We also believe that without faith in the promises of God, nothing - big or small, can be done for Him. Faith teaches us to abide in the Word, and do all His will. It is not faith to do big things in an unbiblical manner. It is not the magnitude of a project that manifests our faith, but doing all things, big and small, according to God's Word. May God increase our faith in His Word to attempt great things for Him according to His will.

 

Pastoral Exhortation