Should the church use debt?
This is a guest post from Kevin, the author of No Debt Plan. He blogs about getting and keeping you out of debt.
Just like any other church ours started out small. A handful of core families from a larger church decided they weren’t happy with the current direction of things and split off. Starting out they held church in ‘borrowed’ buildings – the homes of members primarily.
Soon that starter locations were too small for the number of people each Sunday, so the church moved to a ‘real’ church building. I don’t know all of the financial details of the transaction as it was before my time. I’m guessing there was some debt involved.
Growth followed. Soon that building was stretched to the max with a full church body. What to do?
It was time for a big move. A massive move. A move to a location with a lot of room for growth. So once again the church moved. This time a large amount of debt was incurred to secure the location we are currently in. Naturally I won’t share all of the details, but it is in the low seven figures.
My question to all of you Gather Little by Little Readers is this: is debt an appropriate method of church growth?
I hadn’t really considered this question in the past. I didn’t know a lot about our church’s finances until they sent out a budget update. We are – God willing – making significant progress on the building debt. For now, it seems all is well with the budget. (And we’re already starting to stretch the capacity of this new location – a good problem to have I suppose!)
But what if things change? Could a bank foreclose on a church? That is an odd statement to consider in my mind. A church? Foreclosure? I suppose just like any other mortgage or loan the bank has the right to come claim the asset if the borrower doesn’t pay. I doubt it would ever come to that as we have many people in the church that could pledge a large portion of cash in a crisis to right the ship.
We accept the use of ‘good’ debt in our own personal lives (mortgages primarily). Does the church get the same leeway? Or should a church stick to organic growth funded from its donations and programs alone?
I don’t have a solid answer, so I’m tossing it out to all of you. What do you think the Bible says on this topic?
Photo by: Bruno Girin