Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bible verses you're least likely to hear ...

Bible verses you're least likely to hear at a Proposed New Building meeting:

Go, sell the oil, and pay your debt, and you and your children live on the rest. (2 Kings 4:7)

Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another. (Romans 13:8)

Our church is considering adding a new building to our existing facilities. There are some things that are closer to "needs", and some that are closer to "wants". The proposals on the table range, in my mind, from "too much" to "way too much" to "way, way too much." Recently our church scheduled a series of small-group meetings to discuss the proposed plans. The thing that bothered me most about the meetings was that they were framed as Bible studies, and the verses on the table were things about commitment and dedication. The fairly clear implication was, "If you aren't with our proposals, there's a problem with your commitment or dedication. Agreeing with the plans is the only Biblical thing to do." Meantime, even the least of the proposals would mean asking for a 20% increase in offering receipts at a time when many people are struggling to hold steady. Without going into details, there are also some issues about the stewardship of the land.

A couple of us proposed a "just enough" plan (again, from my point of view). The daggers shooting out of the eyes of the person hosting the meeting were impressive.

In the words of a member who has taken a turn as congregation president: "Whenever there are people and money in the same room, there's nothing holy going on."

I know that everyone gets caught up in the excitement of "Think what we could do if ...". But a recession is the modern-day equivalent of a famine. I think it's a fair question -- not an inappropriate one -- whether it's good stewardship to take on large new debt burdens, especially when the question arises during difficult economic times.

I wonder whether anyone else has ever had the same type of experience -- where questioning the wisdom of a large new debt was seen as a sign of lack of Christian commitment?


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Our church has had remodeling on the mind for over ten years. It has taken that long to go through several different planning stages and winnow out what we really need/want. We wanted to start a year ago, but the costs came in too high, so now we have decided that the sanctuary will stay as is, but the rest of the building will be repaired and/or replaced, with a couple of new rooms added. The oldest part of the building is about 58 years old and is in NEED, not want, of repair, including plumbing, wiring, heating, windows, roof, new insulation.

So this Sunday is commitment Sunday, meaning that we will turn in our pledges for our SECOND fund drive. The estimates will come in shortly, and then we vote, in about two weeks, to remodel. So it all depends, each aspect depends on the other aspects.

We can't not fix the building, but only fixing it would be to put band aids on hemorrhages.

But will we have faith enough and commitment enough to keep up the monthly giving (not meeting our budget now each winter), make out pledges for this capital campaign, AND pay a monthly mortgage????

This concerns me greatly. Yet we know from past experience, that when we've had a building project, the income goes up. And we've paid off past mortgages early.

And yet....the economy and population of the area is down. Greatly.

So we wonder. When is having "faith" being blind to facts and when is it looking at the realities and stepping out in faith anyway?

Although I don't think that this applies to this case, I know of plenty of situations where the committees have talked and decided and then asked God to bless the decisions instead of starting with prayer.

Weekend Fisher said...

Real catch-22 there. Few things are as frustrating to me as building projects.

Hope there are some workable solutions on the table (?).

Take care & God bless

Anonymous said...

It's great!!............................................................