Saturday, March 10, 2012

Banks foreclosing on U.S. churches in record numbers is mostly our fault.

At first I wanted to title this blog "Hope Obama is Happy Now" but then I thought better.  It occurred to me that while the Pot-US may have helped create and/or fueled this problem, we in the church have contributed greatly to it.  Let me explain.

Some of the questions we need to ask ourselves or thoughts we need to consider are:

1. Why did churches not see the 2008 financial crash coming?  Okay, many others did not as well.  But shouldn't Christians live in a way that says we need to be aware that something like this could happen any time.  Didn't Christ warn us about this?  And then plan and spend and live accordingly.

2.  Why are so many churches 'struggling' the way they are even in good times?  Is it because we spend more than we have?  Is it because, in these cases discussed in this article at least, we strive to build big buildings, bigger than we need, rather than focusing on building up the spiritual maturity of the saints?

3.  Is it because more and more churches are becoming 'independent' in nature?  They're leaving their association with denominations behind in an effort to be free of certain constraints the denomination may put on an individual church.  Now, in some cases where a denomination clearly makes a decision to go against the will of God (e.g. in supporting gay or lesbian clergy ordination, etc.) this makes sense; but often it is because a pastor or a leadership team simply does not want to answer to anyone outside the church and/or want to do something that may well not be acceptable in that denomination.  Or, it may be because they do not want to pay any 'fees' to their denomination, keeping every cent they have for themselves. A little greedy I'd say.  And often this type of greediness extends to their willingness to spend millions on themselves and give so little to missions.  And thus they split.

4.  Is it because too many congregations are indeed dividing due to differences that they should otherwise have been able to solve with the help of reconciliators and with true spiritual seeking of God's will?  Then one of the parties tries to start over, often passively competing with the other.  And sometimes failing big time.

5.  Is it because some church leaders have big egos?  They want to build big and become well known following in the footsteps of the big guys they see on TV.  One would do well to remember Robert Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral -- how much bigger can you get?  And yet they fall.

6.  Is it because they don't use good financial wisdom when they take on a building project?  Instead they're like a young couple buying too big a house with too small a down payment.

7.  Re-financing is a lot easier when a congregation's numbers and givings are growing.  Perhaps pastors and lay leaders should keep their eyes on those balls more and less on the special unnecessary features that many church architects sell them on.  It would make renewing a loan much easier.

Instead, many churches are now faced with foreclosures, declaring bankruptcy, and even being auctioned off.  That does not give the name of Christ and His Church as a whole a good name, especially these days when the media attacks us on so many other fronts -- now they can add 'bad managers of their assets' to the list.

And then, I couldn't believe it, there are also pastors who have not shared the bad news with their congregations allowing them to think that everything was fine.  The excuse given being they fear they'll lose "congregants prematurely".   Unbelievable, first that they would keep this from them, and secondly, that they are so 'temporally' minded since they know they'll lose congregants anyway when they default.  Clearly, pastoral training these days is not sufficient, being void of teaching the necessary leadership skills.

Perhaps this is a time when we need to rethink two things:

1.  The same thing that each of us has to face individually, as families, or as business owners.  It is the debate between -- "waiting until God provides the money to pay cash" or "using a down payment and going by faith to pay off the rest in the future".   There is merit in both.  I personally used to be more in favor of the latter, but it is clear that in these days, doing so puts us "out on a limb" and the branch may well break off.  I believe God says to trust Him but to do so using our intellect that He Himself has given us, first.

2.  Paying more attention to Luke 14:28 -- "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?"  More of us need to do that in our own lives, in the way we manage our homes, our businesses, and our churches.

Okay, here are the details in a good article from the Financial Post. . .

Banks foreclosing on U.S. churches in record numbers | Mortgages | Personal Finance | Financial Post

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1 comment:

  1. Is that true? Thank you for sharing this information!For church financing resourcement, I'm searching for compatible church lender.