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2 Questions

10%: Where Faith and Finance Intersect

There are two fundamental questions that guide my GLCA grant study on faith and finance, and these questions provide two threads of interrelated study:

1. What are the Biblical mandates for small “c” church management of God’s financial resources?

2. For Christians, what is faithful financial living as set forth in the scriptures?

The first question, represents Phase1 of the study, and it will be addressed over the next four to six months. The motivation behind this question is the personal struggle I have with the American church’s management of financial resources — God’s financial resources. A basic starting point is to ask what Jesus would/does think of the church’s stewardship of financial resources.

I believe the American church is on a collision course with what Jesus said and did. The purpose of this phase of the study is to give the Scriptures, as the living words of God, the time and space to speak on the matter of Biblical fiscal stewardship.

As background, I find the tenets of American Christianity called into question by the American church’s investment in brick-and-mortar and suburbanized programs against a backdrop of unemployment, poverty, drug abuse and homelessness. So many churches have embarked on multi-million dollar building programs that are leveraged with significant debt. And so many have developed mission trips to southern locations for spring break to aid the poor and needy in “other” locations, but the elderly and disabled in their own communities struggle to find adequate housing and food.

My first thread of work probes the efficacy of the American Christian church’s resource stewardship vis-a-vis the mandates of Scriptures. What does God say about resource allocation and utilization by the church? How does He feel about polished strategic plans and marketing plans, leveraged mega-structures, and consulting programs to generate maximum contributions from parishioners?

I will listen to Scriptures extensively as I probe into my perceived disconnect between the prosperity-centered, financially responsible gospel that is being preached from the pulpit of the massive, modern church facility and the God-centered, radically risky Gospel preached by a carpenter from a rock in Galilee.

As a social scientist, I will measure agreement and compliance of Michigan evangelical churches with Biblical doctrine.I will share summary outcomes with you via this blog.

It is interesting to note that the GLCA grant review panel wrote, in part:

“This is a beautifully written proposal that very nicely lays out the questions the proposer wishes to ask and how he will go about seeking answers…The proposer has long been excited about this topic and is eager to pursue it, although it seems the kind of investigation that will be controversial within the church and perhaps not entirely welcome.”

Yep! That’s probably true.

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