When it comes to the issue of Money And The Small Church, (or money and big churches, money and family finances, money and business, etc.) there is one principle that stands high above all the others.
It’s so basic, I almost feel silly having to write it. But it is Job One for faithful financial stewardship.
Don’t spend more money than you bring in.
That’s it. There is simply no financial principle more important for a church to observe.
(This post is part of an ongoing series on Money And The Small Church.)
Do The Basics First
Maybe it’s because this principle is so basic and commonsense, that it’s often taken for granted, and therefore ignored. And it’s always a problem when we do.
I’ve heard far too many pastors and other church leaders try to gloss over their refusal to acknowledge this principle with grand phrases that almost sound like faith.
- “Where God guides, he provides.”
- “Empty yourself and the Lord will fill you back up.”
- “A generous heart will never be left wanting.”
- “I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread.”
- “Hey, that church has a cool, new sound system – I want one, too!”
You’ve heard them, too haven’t you? Maybe you’ve said them yourself. Because they’re true. Well, not that last one…
There’s just one problem with using otherwise good sayings like that in this context. Those principles have to do with generosity (again, except for that last one), but overspending is not generosity. It’s foolishness at best and sinfulness at worst.
Yes, it’s true that where God guides, he provides. And no, we can’t let balancing the books become more important than stretching our faith. But if we’re not being good stewards of what God provides, the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and many other scriptures tell us that he will stop providing.
You can’t spend your way into church growth, congregational health or kingdom impact.
God won’t entrust his treasure into a leaky bucket. And neither should our church members. But that’s exactly what many of our churches are. Not intentionally. And not usually deceitfully.
But having the right heart won’t fix the leaky bucket.
If you want to solve your church’s financial issues, start with a smart, prayerful, honest look at your church’s budget.