Some churches have money in the bank. A few have a lot of money in the bank. There is nothing, in my opinion, inherently wrong with that. An emergency fund is a great idea, and none of us know the future so a few months of operational funds is probably a great idea.
But I have great concern about churches that hold on to a fund and refuse to invest it in ministry. I know of several churches and organizations that hold a large amount of money in the bank while the needs of the ministry go unmet. I do think it is wrong for a church to have a large account while people need help.
What can happen:
A fund can become our hope. Some churches no longer practice stewardship because they have money in the bank.
A fund can become our trust. We no longer rely on God to bless the church – we have money to take care of that.
A fund can become a god that we worship. I have personally witnessed churches fight and divide over what to do with money in the bank.
A fund can earn interest that can prevent us from sharing it, because we don’t want to lose the interest.
I even know of groups that loan these moneys out to brothers or sisters – at a significant percentage rate.
Something is wrong with this picture.
No, I am not a proponent of giving away all of the church’s funds. We shouldn’t enable the entitled. Jesus said that there will always be needy people so we can’t fix everyone’s problems. Since these funds belong to God, we are required to handle them with great caution. But that leads me to my basic point:
God does not provide money to the church so we can keep it safe in the bank. He provides money so we can do ministry.
The Parable of the Talents is all the evidence we need. When God puts money in your hands, He expects you to multiply it by investing it into ministry. See Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28.
I do not want to give money to a church that hoards it. When people are in need, the church must find a way to utilize the money to help people.
Consider these Bible verses on the topic:
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” James 2:16-17
“If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” Luke 3:11
And perhaps the most direct: “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion how can God’s love be in that person?” 1 John 3:17
With all of the scrutiny being placed on churches, we must be fiducially responsible. More importantly, the money belongs to God, not to us. He states unequivocally how He feels about selfishness.
So if a church has an account for the building fund, or for missions or for a special purpose – that is a great thing. But churches that are holding a sum of money that is not earmarked for ministry should be challenged to invest it into effective ministry. If you need help with some ideas on where to invest your money, contact me – I have a few ideas.