In yesterday's post I discussed the problem of smaller churches and their often heard complaint about not having any money. Today, I want to address another financial problem sometimes found in smaller church; the problem of having too much money.
One small church that averages about 12 people each week told me they had over $100,000 in savings. An even smaller church has nearly double that amount. A third small church was struggling a few years ago to find a pastor. I told the search committee that they needed to increase the salary they were going to offer if they wanted a pastor. The committee chair finally admitted to me that they had a "rainy day" fund. Although he wouldn't tell me an amount, from the way he said it I felt it was fairly sizable figure. I responded, "Look outside. It's pouring. The church is going to have to use some of that money if it is going to attract someone to serve as their pastor."
I realize that fear drives a lot of this. People see their attendance figures and giving going down. They are afraid their little church may have to close so they reduce their expenses to a bare minimum and start stockpiling money. Maybe they had a building fund they've converted over into a savings account, and they hold onto those funds with clinched fists.
Unfortunately, those clinched fists do more than hold onto the money. They also strangle the ministry of the church until it's no longer even a church. It's reduced to a small wealthy club that provides services to its members.
This is poor stewardship of God's money. That money was given in the past by faithful members of your church to support the ministries of the church. There is nothing wrong with a church having money in savings. There is much wrong with a church having large sums of money it never intends to use for any purpose other than ensuring its own existence. Such an attitude dishonors the purpose for which it was given and dishonors God.
There is a second problem with small churches having inordinate amounts of money in savings. People stop giving. They see no reason to give their hard-earned money to a church that has lots of money it's not going to use anyway. Since the church has demonstrated it's OK to hoard money the members believe they should hold onto their own money or at least use it for their own pleasure.
We teach stewardship by our actions as well as through sermons and lessons. Because the church I pastored believed in and taught people to tithe we demonstrated that in our church budget. Ten percent of our offerings went to our denominational mission support program. After I served the church for a few years and we became a little more financially sound, I encouraged the church to increase that to fifteen percent. We did that by increasing our mission giving one percent a year for five years. As our mission giving increased so did our general church giving.
If you are in a small church with a large savings account you're not using, you need to do something with that money. If you're not going to use it for Kingdom work, then give it to a ministry that will. Pay your pastor a decent salary. Give part of it to your denominational mission program. Support local mission work even if it's being done by other churches or ministries in your area. This money was given for ministry, and it needs to be used in that way.