Tag Archives: churches

Financial Straight Talk: Most of Us Have Money

The brief discussion last week about paying off a home mortgage quickly, has me realizing we need to talk a little bit about finances here. I’ve talked finances many times before and I think now would be a good time to start the discussion up again, both to articulate my views and to encourage discussion about them.

From what I can tell the readers of this blog come from a lot of backgrounds, stages of life, income levels, etc. So, there isn’t a great way to address all of our situations at once. That being the case, I’m just going to go ahead and use some numbers I found on wikipedia for average household incomes. We’ll use $46,326 as the average annual household income. I know many make less then this, and a few make more then this, but we’ll stick with it for the time being, because I think most reading this blog will be making at least that much as a household in the near future if they are not currently already.

I’m not sure how much of my own financial situation I’ll disclose on this blog yet, a discussion and decision still to be made, but I will tell you some of my thoughts on spending, resources, budgets, etc. And the first thing I want to address is this: Most of Us (‘us’ being those who have the technology access to be reading this blog) have money.

You might not have a lot of money coming in (income), or you might have a lot of it already tied up in debts, but you have money. According to Barna [via Boyd], Christians spend 97% of their income on themselves. And that’s not based on how much one makes. We tend to spend what we make, in other words, our cost of living usually matches our income (this is a problem). As a individual follower of Christ, or as a group, or as Christians in general, our ethic on finances and budget should not be to simply be smart spenders of our money, but to use our resources for good in the world. An ‘average’ church of say 10 family units (households from the previous statistic) has roughly $463,260 of income flowing through it. There are necessities, like feeding, clothing and sheltering those in the church, as well as some necessary expenses to remain employed at the jobs that create those incomes, but all in all, there could be a heck of a lot of money being used for good in the world.

The big question is: how much do we ‘need’ to live on. With all the potential for good with our resources, what do we ‘need’?

What does denying yourself look like?

Today I was talking with a friend about some of the word’s of Jesus and it became so clear to me why I think the church should care about justice, should care about others, and shouldn’t just look like another club that people can join (as long as you look, act, and enjoy the same things as the majority of the people in the club). Jesus messes with people’s heads and says these words:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

The cross was a method of gruesome punishment, like the electric chair, or lynching. It’s equated with pain, struggle, hurt, and many other harmful and negative images; and Christ tells us to take that up. And then he get’s us even more backwards “lose” our life? What is that supposed to mean?
I’m not hear to do a theological exegesis of the passage, I’d rather just address the fact that THIS is the Jesus that we in the Church profess. There it is as plain as day for any passerby to read. Followers of Jesus should be denying themselves.
So why do those looking on see Christians drive in on Sunday in their fancy cars, pull up to their nice and decked out churches, listen to their health and wealth gospel, sing some feel-good songs, get back in their cars and go out to eat (where they don’t tip well), and head back to their house full of the same gadgets and gizmos everyone else has, ready to start another week?

Where’s the “deny” and “lose” in that? About the only “cross” it seems like most Christian folks are taking up is their house payment. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Calling churches

So I was calling a bunch of churches to tell them about this TennCare Town Hall Meeting, and I had two interesting responses.

First, nearly 90% of the churches I called nobody answered and I had to leave a message on a machine. I realize that many churches don’t have enough staff to have a full-time phone person, but still. I mean isn’t a churches main point to meet the needs of the people (It’s not a business, it’s supposed to be a community of people, more on this later)? What if I was someone with a real immediate need and the only place I felt I could find help was the church? I guess I just find that sort of sad and disturbing.

Second, I called this one church and started asking if the lady on the other line knew anyone in their church who was on TennCare. She said “no” so I just started to inform her about this meeting we were having regarding the TennCare cuts. She just kept inturpting and saying, “we’re not interested,” “goodbye” and she hung up on me! I decided to call back and when I did she passed the phone off to the pastor. I went into my most compelling arguement that as Christians we are called to care for those in need in our community and that this Town Hall Meeting was an opportunity for Christians to hear about the needs of those in their community who had been cut from TennCare. He was decently cordial and he said he would make an announcement. Maybe it’s cause it sounded political and a lot of churches are afraid of being involved with anything like that, but I was quite troubled that a person from a church would hang up on me while I was talking about people in need in the community.

I’m glad to say not all Christians are like that, and those who aren’t I’d encourage you to come out Next Tuesday (August 9th) 6-7:30pm at the Madison Branch Public Library 610 Gallatin Pike S.

See you there.