Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Borrowing to Build


Click here to find the source of the Article : Borrowing to build

The use of debt to build or expand the outreach of a church is so common a practice today that even to challenge the idea can create an air of animosity. However, just because a practice is normal does not mean it is scriptural or best.

It should be noted that most churches repay their indebtedness according to contract. So the discussion is not whether a church can repay (they must) but whether churches should borrow even if they can repay.

Is borrowing prohibited?
Church borrowing is an emotional and controversial topic. When the time comes to fund building programs or expansions, too many ministry leaders immediately call a bond company or make an appointment with a commercial loan officer at the bank.

Why do churches so frequently borrow to fund expansion? In many cases, they feel they have no other alternative. Church leaders too often feel trapped and resort to borrowing out of a sense of desperation.

Borrowing is not prohibited in Scripture. It is discouraged. There are no positive references to borrowing, but there are explicit warnings to avoid it. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave” (Proverbs 22:7).

Thus God's Word indicates that an unnecessary authority is created by borrowing, plus borrowing denies God's people the opportunity to experience His blessings (see 2 Corinthians 9:10).

Scripture points out four precedents concerning borrowing:
  • Borrowing is always presented in the negative (see Proverbs 17:18).
  • God never made a promise to anyone and then fulfilled it through a loan or debt (see Luke 6:38).
  • God promised His people that if they would obey His commandments they wouldn't have to borrow (see Deuteronomy 28:12).
  • God had worship structures built at least three times in the Bible, and no credit was used.
How borrowing affects ministry
The philosophy of the day says to have it all now. This mind-set causes serious problems in the local church.

Members who are accustomed to making large purchases using personal credit carry that same belief system and practice into their churches. This has caused many local congregations to assume staggering amounts of debt that has resulted in high debt-service payments.

Many of these debts cut deeply into ministry resources to the extent that staffing needs and other opportunities have to be set aside in order to pay the mortgage.

A debt within the church restricts the ability of the members to serve God. Quite often, ministry decisions are based on the need to meet the debt payments rather than to fund current ministry needs.

Without a doubt, overly ambitious building programs have caused more stress in churches than any other financial endeavor. Many building programs have pursued what has been termed “architectural evangelism.” It is felt that a large, ornate sanctuary will draw people to the church. But at what cost?

Almost everyone agrees that the local church consists of more than simply bricks and mortar. But, then again, almost every church spends a great deal of time, energy, and money on buildings.

Huge portions of church collections go to meet interest payments. This money could be used to further God's kingdom, rather than the world's. Some major denominations spend more on interest payments than on foreign missions.

The need to build
There are some essential questions that need to be answered before spending church resources on building or expansion programs.
  1. What is the true motive for building or expansion? Is it based on a real or a perceived need (a want)? Is money for building going to be spent to the detriment of missions or essential ministry programs? The Great Commission never said anything about highly leveraged building programs.
  2. What effect will borrowing have on the cash flow of the church? When a church has a mortgage, the mortgage holder must get his portion first—before pastor, utilities, or missions are paid. In essence, a mortgage reorders all of the church's priorities. The mortgage must be paid first; everything else comes next, regardless of how the church feels God has called them to minister.
  3. Is God backing the decision? If God is backing the program, He will bring the funds in without the church having to borrow.
     Raising money needs to be low-key and all funds need to be on hand before any construction begins. 
  4. Is God the designer? If God is backing the project and He brings in the amount of money that is needed for the construction effort, the size and the cost of the building effort will be determined by how much God brings in, not by what a building committee says is needed.
Alternative to borrowing
There is an alternative to borrowing: generous giving by God's people.

Christians need to give in a generous, joyous, God-first, servant-minded, self-sacrificial way, in proportion to their incomes.

Yet when challenged to give up personal desires in favor of contributing to the work and expansion of churches, too many American Christians say no.

This is not the giving attitude that is powerfully and consistently taught throughout the New Testament. If Christians would give as God clearly instructs them to, there never would be a need for churches to borrow.

Although it is not a sin for a church to borrow for building or expansion, it does circumvent the need to trust God.

If God is convicting the people to expand or renovate, there is enough money in each church to fund the project.

There are countless churches across America that are both large and thriving and have chosen to avoid debt. They have decided to build debt free and have delayed expanding until they could afford to do so. To these, the church is in their hearts, not in a building.

If emotion is driving a program, it probably will fail. If the desire to reach more people and show them God's love is the motivation, God will honor that attitude.

Buildings should not be built "to the glory of God," because God does not need buildings. So, if there is truly a need for expansion, the church leadership and congregation need to set aside some time to seek what God wants for the church and ask Him how the money will be provided.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Biblical Principles of Borrowing


This Article is obtained from the Crown Financial Ministries. We have reproduced some relevant points here and have omitted the points that are not relevant to our situation. To read the full Article, please click here : Biblical principles of borrowing

Principles of borrowing appear in God's Word, although it should be noted that principles differ from laws.

principle is an instruction from the Lord to help guide our decisions. A law is an absolute. Negative consequences can result from ignoring a principle, but punishment is the likely consequence of ignoring a law of God.

An example that shows the difference between principle and law: the principle of borrowing given in Scripture is that it is better not to borrow if the loan must be taken with surety. “A man lacking in sense pledges and becomes guarantor in the presence of his neighbor” (Proverbs 17:18).

The law of borrowing given in Scripture is that it is a sin to borrow and not repay. “The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives” (Psalm 37:21). The implication of this Scripture is that the wicked can repay but will not, as opposed to those who want to repay but cannot.

Principles are given to keep us clearly within God's path so that we can experience His blessings. To ignore them puts us in a constant state of jeopardy in which Satan can cause us to stumble at any time.

Principle 1: Debt is not normal
Regardless of how it seems today, debt is not normal in any economy and should not be normal for God's people.

We live in a debt-ridden society that is now virtually dependent on a constant expansion of credit to keep the economy going. That is a symptom of a society no longer willing to follow God's directions. God told His people what He would do if they kept His statutes. 
“Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth….The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow
(Deuteronomy 28:1, 12). Borrowing is never God's best for His people.

Principle 2: Do not accumulate long-term debt
It's hard to believe that a typical American family accepts a 30-year home mortgage as normal today ... (omitted)

...Today it requires from 40 to 70 percent of the average American family's total income to buy an average home, even with a 30-year mortgage.

The longest term of debt God's people took on in the Bible was about seven years.

During the year of remission, the seventh year, the Jews were instructed to release their brothers from any indebtedness (see Deuteronomy 15:1-2). Thus, the only debts that could exceed seven years were those made to non-Jews or from non-Jews.

Principle 3: Avoid surety

Surety means accepting an obligation to pay without having a guaranteed way to make the payments.

The most recognizable form of surety is cosigning a loan for another person. But surety also can be any form of borrowing in which an unconditional guarantee to pay is committed.

The only way to avoid surety is to collateralize a loan with property that, if sold, would cover the indebtedness, no matter what... (omitted)

Principle 4: The borrower has an absolute commitment to repay
In this generation, situational ethics is widely accepted—so much so that it's easy to rationalize not paying a debt, especially when the product or service is defective or when family financial situations seem to be out of control.

Unfortunately, many borrowers discover that it is possible for them to accumulate far more debt than they can repay and still maintain the lifestyle they want. As a result, they bail out. 

Currently (2002 standards) over one million people a year now choose bankruptcy as a way to postpone or avoid repayment.

Nevertheless, in some cases voluntary bankruptcy is acceptable—but only in the context of trying to protect the creditors, never in the context of trying to avoid payment.

A Christian needs to accept that God allows no exceptions to keeping vows. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:5).


Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac quotes, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Although it is good common sense, it is not from God's Word.

However, many Christians feel that all borrowing is prohibited according to Romans 13:8, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” 

To properly interpret this Scripture, it must be considered in light of the context in which it appears. In this particular reference, Paul was not talking specifically about money—teaching that we are never to allow people to do things for us if we are not willing to do even more for them.

Scripture very clearly says that neither borrowing nor lending is prohibited, but firm guidelines are given.

Borrowing is discouraged and, in fact, every biblical reference to it is a negative one. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave” (Proverbs 22:7). The scriptural guideline for borrowing is very clear.
When you borrow, you promise to repay. Literally, borrowing is making a vow and God requires that we keep our vows.