Money Talks

Money (and the fight over it) is in the news: Wall Street protests have spread to other cities, college campuses, and even small towns; the NBA is going to lose at least some portion of the upcoming basketball season because owners and players cannot come to terms; Europe is embroiled in the sovereign debt crisis; presidential hopefuls constantly debate how best to jumpstart the faltering US economy.

photo credit: Tobym (Flickr)

Money is constantly in the news because it is consistently on the mind.  I’ve noticed lately how ubiquitous money news and economic updates are in our society.  Some of us measure whether today is a “good day” or a “bad day” based on what happened in the market (pick your market: the NYSE, gold, mortgage rates, etc.).  The economy is the prevalent metanarrative for today’s first-world inhabitants.

I am not against earning money, possessing money, or spending money.  It’s neutral in my book – a necessary part of our world that can be positive or negative based on the person.  What concerns me is that this necessity has breached its banks and is flooding our minds and hearts, polluting our basic understanding of good and bad, right and wrong, health and disease.

In sum, we have made money an intrinsic good, and this is not the Christian vision of how the world works.  We should not judge an idea or an effort based solely (or even primarily) on its economic merit.  What’s good for the wallet is rarely good for the soul.

Many church leaders would agree with my sentiment.  However, I cannot begin to count the number of church leaders I have worked with over the years who make financial resources the main factor in most decisions.  After all, there is a slippery slope from “We need money in order to do X so that in doing X we can further the gospel” to “We need money” to “Money has intrinsic value.”

I fear too many of our churches and church leaders have fallen into the money-minded trap because our vision for a successful church has been conflated with the marks of a successful corporation: growth that is fueled by consistently providing consumers a set of excellent products and services.  With this vision of success, we need money (capital) in order to fuel growth (growth, which is aimed at generating more capital that can be reinvested for greater growth, and the cycle continues).  With all this money and growth swirling about, it’s easy to lose sight of mission.

Here are some questions:  How relevant is money to the accomplishment of God’s mission in the world?  If our answer is “very important,” then might we be misunderstanding God’s mission?  What would an understanding of mission that did not rely on money even look like?  What is a church leader’s role in casting a money-less vision for a local congregation?  I will look forward to hearing comments on this topic and these questions.

About Chad Hall

Chad Hall is the Director of Coaching for Western Seminary and also serves as a leadership coach for ministry and corporate clients through his role as Partner with Coach Approach Ministries and iNTERNAL iMPACT.

2 thoughts on “Money Talks

  1. Thanks for writing about money. It is definitely a good reminder. Good questions at the end of the article. I believe we are called to be thankful for whatever resources (little or much) that God has provided for us to do ministry and to be a good steward and a faithful servant. Our God is the King of kings who owns the entire universe and He definitely can provide for His work. When we’re doing His will, we just need to trust in Him.

  2. I preached a sermon not long ago and as part of it I said something like, “We need money, we’ll always need money, money is necessary for our church–now I’ve said it!” And it’s true. There are bills to pay, upkeep, salaries and ministry expenses. Even if we didn’t have a building, there would be expenses. Even Paul needed money.

    However, as someone said after the fall of communism in the Soviet Union–“Godless capitalism is no better than godless communism.” And there’s some truth to that. And preachers who ask for more and more money, sometimes to feather their own nests, are not honoring God.

    It saddens me that pastors can sometimes be paid over 6-figures in large churches; and professors paid very handsomely also, when so many, in their churches and seminaries struggle each day just to get by. There’s something wrong with that too. Oh, the love of money!

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