Money from Heaven
What will your church members do with their "economic stimulus" checks?

"I thought that spending my check from the government was supposed to be the patriotic thing to do, but I'm not sure it's the Kingdom thing to do." That is how my friend Chuck began explaining his idea about what our congregation could do with the economic stimulus payments that begin arriving in the mail this week. After hearing so much about the sluggish economy and our responsibility to jumpstart it through consumption, he was wondering if there might be a better way to invest Uncle Sam's rebate.

On Sunday, I invited Chuck to join me in front of our church. I asked him to explain why spending the money on himself was not the best thing he could do with it. "As I read about the government's plan in the news, the more the idea of spending money on myself seemed to be at odds with the values of God's kingdom," he said. He told us he'd been reading Jesus' words in Luke 12 and it appeared to be opposed to the message that we can spend our way to prosperity, security, and happiness.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear? Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted.

Chuck said that Kingdom investment doesn't necessarily mean giving money to the church.

Maybe there is a neighbor who needs some help. Maybe there is a ministry that could use some financial generosity. "The important thing," Chuck told the congregation, "is to ask God what his plans are for this money."

Next Sunday our church will use more time talking about this. The congregation will be encouraged to pray about the best way to invest their rebate. It's exciting to consider how the thousands of dollars represented in our local congregation could be creatively invested in ways that reflect and advance God's Kingdom.

Is your church talking about the Economic Stimulus Package? Has your congregation spent time imagining how our government's plan to stimulate the economy might be an opportunity to demonstrate God's alternative economy? Or, are you staying clear of anything that smacks of government and politics?

What about churches in urban or poorer rural communities - are these checks a small taste of justice for those left behind by our full-speed economy? Will people in your church spend the money on themselves, or will you also encourage them to invest it in God's kingdom?

Share what your church is doing with the stimulus package checks - the editors would love to hear.

April 29, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 25 comments

Mike

May 26, 2008  12:25pm

About 10 years ago, my wife and I made the conscious decision to at least tithe (give 10%) on our single gross income, including gifts and even my company's 401K match. Not an easy thing to do with 4 kids, but it's truly been a blessing to see our money put to much better use than taking the family out to eat or buying a big TV. I've never considered tax refunds, however, to be income. Since I've already contributed to the government's inefficient and often ridiculous spending, and I tithe on my gross income to begin with, when they give me money back, I don't consider it a gift or income, but rather a return of a portion of my previous payment. After reading a few comments on this and other sites, I've concluded that this isn't so much a return, but rather a 'gift' from the government. Whether a good idea or not, I feel God wants to see the stimulus checks put to His cause while taking care of our needs in the process. Each of us is in a different place; some folks have bill collectors calling and are on the verge of losing their house, and others are taking their second trip to Hawaii this year. We're managing God's portfolio. Would He be happy with how much we scrape off the top for ourselves? We each need to pray about this and answer that question individually. Take an honest look at how you live, and how the rest of the world lives. Do a little soul searching. It may hurt a little, but seriously think whether you should buy that new Playstation 3 or provide food to 30 families for a week (or maybe meet somewhere in between). Personally, I think He really wants me to invest in a giant LCD TV!! Ok, maybe not so much, I'll live with my 10 year old Sony for now. Hey, it still works great, despite what my two teenage boys say…

Report Abuse

Kat

May 15, 2008  7:28pm

I haven't heard any talk in my church about collectively using it, but I do know that I have some bills that desperately need to be paid! I can only pray that it's what God wanted!!!

Report Abuse

fcsanders

May 06, 2008  7:48pm

Where in either tradition or scripture are we taught that if we give money we will be blessed with more money? This is a false doctrinal belief that is based on the equally false "name it claim it " sect.It is not true Christian theology. We give/help others/pray for others because we are Christian not in order to receive something better. What is the honor in helping or giving if we expect something in return?

Report Abuse

Sara

May 06, 2008  4:18pm

btw, my quote was congress speaking, not the citizens who elected them. the entire situation is far more complicated than just cutting a few checks. and no, I don't give to get, vote red, or believe the government should take care of my [or neighbor's] every want and need.

Report Abuse

Nik

May 06, 2008  9:35am

At times I have been generous, giving almost half my pay for God's kingdom. At times I have enjoyed spending money on myself. If I give my economic stimulus check to God's purposes, I will be rewarded and that is great. However, I plan to spend it on me, and that's OK too.

Report Abuse

Clinton

May 04, 2008  2:39pm

Here we go again! The Church putting guilt trips on ordinary Christians. I can understand it in the case of the many well-off who probably don't need the extra money and who may end up spending it on luxuries or greed or on the "me, me" mentality of our times. I can also understand it in the case of those Christians who will go off and waste their rebate checks on an IPhone or some of that stuff. However, there are millions of everyday working Christians for whom these rebate checks are going to be a Godsend. They are trying to send their children to school, somehow trying to get rid of debt and just put food on the table (After all, aren't they doing this because the economy is bad? Duh!) And here we go, the Church (or at least some churches) are making these ordinary Christians feel guilty again. They want to preach yet again about saving the whole world while they won't care for their own (like Jesus says in Mt. 15 and Mark 7; also 2 Timothy). Why don't these rich Christians who don't need the checks find the poor in their own churches and try to help them first? Isn't this what Acts 5 is all about? I mean didn't James (and John) say, saying hi to your brother and hope that all is well, doesn't cut it. You better give them some food and clothes too. And for those who do truly need it to put food on the table, I say, let them. After all, haven't they been faithful Christians all year round, tithing and giving it all to the Lord. Like someone else said, why is this money any different than everything else a Christian has anyways? It all belongs to the Lord. We are just His stewards...

Report Abuse

Harold Orndorff

May 03, 2008  2:26pm

When the government takes from some to "give" to others, it is never a good thing. For one, it is a violation of commandment #8. Practically speaking, it doesn't finally "help the economy" because it produces nothing in the end except the illusion of prosperity. Having said all that, economically speaking, it doesn't matter whether you spend the money or you give it away for someone else to spend. The economic effect is completely unchanged. There really is no "alternative economy" for the church. When it comes to goods, services, and money, the church cannot avoid participating in the only economy there is.

Report Abuse

Jerry

May 03, 2008  8:23am

quote As a church leader, I would advise people to do whatever they need to do with the money. Pay off credit debt or health care debt. Sign up for health insurance, even if only for a couple of months, put it in the bank for the rainy day that is no doubt going to come sooner than later. unquote Agreed.

Report Abuse

Sara

May 02, 2008  11:37am

"Hey, let's SPEND our way out of the deficit!" When Joe Citizen does this, Max Collector starts calling. When the government does this, commoners rejoice and call it a blessing. Econ 101: To everything there is a season.

Report Abuse

Jeremy

April 30, 2008  10:13pm

No, this is not the government returning our money, it's the government taking out a $150B loan to give to its citizens. Whether that's a good idea or not is another matter. In any case, it's sad that the solution to a bad economy is giving everybody $600 to go shopping. We're stuck on the treadmill of consumerism. I do like the idea that if we're going to buy things, at least buy them for people in need.

Report Abuse