How Money Shapes Our Definition of Church and Ministry

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I recently ran across this statement in a book on equipping young ministers and it caught me off guard,

“When one realizes that money is crucial to being able to conduct effective ministry, the number of dollars becomes important.”

What would happen to the church if the church had no money? The most noticeable thing that would hit us first would be lack of lights, AC & AV. Things would get really stuffy or really cold depending on where you live. Some people wouldn’t want to be a part of a place like that and they would leave.

But I am not talking about that sort of thing…I am asking about something that runs far deeper than what happens in and around the building. Would Christianity fail? Would ministry grind to a screeching halt? What would happen to the people of God if you took away our money? Would ministry go on? Would we be more or less effective in reaching the lost, caring for the sick, and going about our mission as the people of God?

There have been times in the life of the community of faith where such things happened. It happened to some degree in the destruction of Jerusalem and exile in 587 BC. Did it destroy God’s people? How did they respond? Ultimately it brought about repentance and restoration.

I am afraid Western Christianity has a skewed view of what church is all about and a lot of it has to do with assimilating our beliefs with worldly value systems so that the value systems of the world color our view of faith, church and ministry. Some have become so focused on worldly means and measures that they start to believe the engine that drives ministry is money rather than God. So what would happen if the church lost all its money? If the answer is we would lose all hope then we have made an idol out of our money and placed it on the throne of our heart. But if our hearts are seeking God then we are seeking God for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, and in sickness and in health. Seeking God, being the church and effective ministry are all unconditional parts of being God’s people. That means they happen regardless of any other condition than God’s empowering our efforts by his own power and authority.

If we lost all of our money I would certainly be less comfortable in my standard of living. A lot would change in my life. I am not wishing that to happen on any of us but the question puts into perspective the value systems of our heart and reminds us that ultimate importance is about a who and not a what.

2 Responses

  1. Good post! I’m interested in seeing what response you get. My involvement as a fund raiser in a ministry that depends greatly on God’s opening doors – both in opportunities in Eastern Europe and in the hearts of brethren who respond makes this a sensitive issue with me. Yet, I really feel that it is not so much the amount of money we have as what we do with it. Much of it is spent for our own comfort and convenience instead of for kingdom purposes.

  2. I am reminded of a story an old preacher friend once told me of his first full time work in the early 1950s.

    He said he and his family were sitting at the kitchen table for breakfast one Sunday morning when the ceiling came down on their heads. Luckily no one was hurt. Later that day when he asked for a meeting with the elders he requested the ceiling be fixed and also asked for a $5.00 a week raise; he was making $50.00 a week. He said one elder glared at him and bellowed out, “You want us to fix the ceiling and give you a raise, too; ain’t no preacher worth $55.00 a week!”

    That was one extreme; we are now living in the other. I have often wondered that if a prophet came to us and put his cry to our decadent society on paper, just how would we look to those reading it 3000 years from now?

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