Financial planners suggest that individuals and organizations (like churches) have a pot of money set aside for special circumstances like an unforeseen snow emergency while living in Texas when your pipes burst and this happens.
HH and I had to spend a chunk of our MASH Fund after my shoulder surgery – which I hated because I’d rather spend it on something fun like a post-pandemic vacation – but the beauty part is that we didn’t have to go into debt. The fact that we have really good insurance and still had thousands of dollars of medical bills is the topic for another post.
But my shoulder is an investment. I need it and am grateful for all it will allow me to do in the future.
Congregations with investments and a pot of money to use for emergencies don’t like to touch that money. We don’t like to use those Rainy Day Funds even when it’s pouring out there. And now – during what we hope is the end of the pandemic – congregations fear that those funds will be needed to help rebuild post-COVID.
So here’s what I believe we need in a post-COVID world:
- Shame-free financial education and coaching for individuals in our congregations. Debt is killing our people and we aren’t talking about it much less equipping people to get rid of it. This is a spiritual issue, my friends, and we cannot use our money as a tool for expanding the reign of God if we are struggling paycheck to paycheck. The Bible is filled with shame stories and Jesus came to release us from our shame.
- Congregations investing in their own shoulders. Delayed building maintenance will result in much more expensive projects in the future. (e.g. it’s less expensive to repair a hole in the roof than the whole roof.)
- An assessment of the best financial investments for our community. (Note that I didn’t say the best financial investments for our church.) Please do not spend another dollar on your church building if you are not using your church building as a tool for ministry.
The only reason to have a church building is to use it as a tool for ministry. If your church building (during non-COVID times) is empty most of the week, you are not using it as a tool for ministry. If you are renting your church space to other organizations, you are not using it as a tool for ministry. (You are a landlord. Big difference.) I know, I know – you are providing a service to other ministries. But you are not “ministry partners” if the only transactions you share involve a rent check and a key.
It’s pouring y’all. It’s time to invest in our community.
If your congregation has a pile of money set aside for “the future” please know that the future is now. There are neighbors who need housing now. There are children who need safe places to hang out now. There are hungry people, broken people, isolated people who need the Church to step up now.
When our mindset is service in the name of Jesus Christ rather than institutional survival, the rainbow in the distance becomes clear. This is God’s promise – that healing will come. Do we believe this or not?
Happy First Monday in Lent.
*Although it’s more of a life practice than a Lenten practice, I meet regularly with a team of women who support each other as we try to use our money better for the sake of the world. One of our goals is to promote wealth for women of color. Email me if you want to know more about this.