The purpose of this article is to start a conversation about debt in ministry and to explore some practical benefits of being debt-free. In our society, borrowing, is acceptable. A given, if you will. Individuals and businesses borrow money. In fact, many believe that you must borrow to run a successful business. But is borrowing in God’s plan for the church?
People today are enslaved to debt. In fact, 46% of adults cannot withstand a $400 emergency without selling something or borrowing money. That means almost half our nation cannot handle a $400 car repair without going into debt. Of the households that have credit card debt, the average credit card debt is about $16,000. It’s probably safe to say that if they have that much credit card debt, they probably also have a mortgage, one or two car payments, and a potential student loan.
Enough of the negative! Let’s talk about the positive. The Debt-Free Church by Jeff Berg and Jim Burgess points out several benefits of being a borrow-free church. Let’s discuss two this month.
1. Leadership sets a financial example.
People are hurting and come to church to be led, even in the area of finances. What better way to lead than by example! When we choose to operate a borrow-free church, we are leading by example in choosing to trust God – and not the bank – to fund the ministry.
How can we not, as ministry leaders, live by example? People will see the joy of nancial freedom and feel empowered to follow with similar decisions in their personal lives. When a ministry walks the debt-free journey, it is able to wholeheartedly share personal nance tools such as Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey.
2. Debt-free ministry fosters member engagement.
When we commit to not call the bank, we must tap into the gifts and talents of our members and volunteers. To do this, we must engage with our members. Engaged church members see that they really, really matter, and they are energized to stay involved. Engaged church equals healthy church!
The Hills is a debt-free church based in North Richland Hills, Texas. Mike Washburn, Executive Pastor explained to us that,
“God called The Hills to be debt-free, and there are incredible blessings that come with the decision to operate a debt-free church. We are set free to use the resources that God gives us. In fact, we are able to be more generous with kingdom expansion because we are debt-free. This emphasis on working with what we have has brought about a focus on discipleship with our members to help them man- age what they have and become joyful givers.”
Catch two more positive aspects of borrow-free ministry next month!