Church Business Enterprise's
There are many problems that both the church and the individual Christian face that' are related to money. How shall we obtain it? How shall we spend it? "Honesty," "liberality," "Scripturally," and many other good words may be used in this study of the individual, the church, and money.
The scripture says, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him" (I Cor. 16:2). This is the plan which the Lord intended for the church to use in raising money to carry on the work it should do. To introduce any other plan is to depart from the word of God.
In recent years church business enterprises have been introduced. Such is a departure from the pattern and opens a flood gap through which many other things will rush. Changes from the pattern are coming fast in our day. Churches in California, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and over forty other states are being thrown into unhappy confusion. Special contributions and business enterprises have been common among groups around us for a time but not so common among us.
A letter came to us not so long ago suggesting a Wednesday night contribution. Soon after that a series of letters came pleading for a fifth Sunday night collection. If I lay by in store on the first day of the week as I have been prospered, it would not be necessary to pass a basket before me every time I attend worship. I can give as much at the collection on the Lords Day as I could if we changed the habit and began to have three collections each week. Some one may say that these needs are special. I know of several very special and worthy needs, so I might help you find occasion for a collection -each Sunday night and each Wednesday night. We need much teaching on giving, but we do not help things by changing a scriptural and sensible plan to a pressure method of overcoming our lack of liberality.
A great number of congregations find themselves with money in several pockets. Classes are organizing with treasurers and other officers to work as units. Many reports can be seen where class number so-and-so has sent some special contribution to this or that.
If it is church work, why not wait sixty minutes and put the same money that you gave at class time into the bigger basket and let the elders oversee its use? What advantage is there for dividing the church into smaller organizations with special projects? You will find the missionary society named in the next verse after the one that recommends the special projects sponsored and financed by classes! Can we give more at ten and eleven than we could give at eleven? Is there any reason for taking the work out from under the oversight of the elders? Is there anything wrong with a Ladies' Aid Society? Is there anything wrong with a Christian Endeavor Society? The last question in this series is repetition, but it is appropriate. Is there anything wrong with a Missionary Society? What?
In seeing great need for money to carry on the work of the Lord, some have wished we had some kind of church endowment that would give us the money without so much sacrifice on our part. Some are giving land to churches with the understanding that the church is to farm for profit. Some are leaving money to the church by wills with the stipulation that it must be invested and only the interest be used. Apartment houses and other such things are being given in a similar way. Many are delighted at the thought of what great good this money can do! Are you among that number?
The church is here by the eternal purpose of God and is wonderfully planned to serve its intended purpose. It is not set up to do banking business. If a brother may know that the cousin is not good handling money and in repaying loans, shalt they deny him the money? If they do, he will talk it among friends and create an unholy situation that will hurt the church more than little interest would help. The banker could say no, and the cousin will stay quiet. Not so with the church. It is not set up for banking business. Church farms and apartments bring their problems. Who are the tenants? What are you to do with those that are not so desirable? If you have something to give to the church, turn it loose and do not try to direct it for years after your death. Your gift may become a millstone around the neck.
There is an account of a church which obtained its funds in a scriptural manner found in Acts 4:34-37. "Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made to every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas . . . having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet."
In the emergency that existed in the Jerusalem church at the time, men even sold their houses and lands and gave the money. That money was distributed or used. It was not invested that the church might have the interest. The church collects its funds by free will offerings. It is a great service institution that gives. It is not set up for buying and selling for getting gain. It has its hands full with its own holy calling.
If you have old clothes or furniture that you want to sell for the benefit of the church, sell them in your own name and give the money. If money can be earned by selling chicken stew, and you want to earn some that way for the church, then sell it in your own name and give the money to the church. God prospers you that you may give to the Lord on the first day of the week. It seems odd that I should warn my brethren of chicken stews, rummage sales, and church business enterprises, but many changes are being made in many places in a hurry. A stitch in time may save nine.
What does the Bible say? This is a good question to ask sincerely when plans of men, additions, and digressions are suggested to us. Let promoters show us commandments or examples, or be able to show that their suggestions are actually and necessarily implied in the command of God. In the words of the great apostle Paul, let us "exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb. 3:13)
The individual is to pay for food, clothing, and other needs, give on the first day of the week, feed hungry neighbors, pay his taxes, and do many other things with his money. He may earn his money by many honorable occupations. The church receives by free will offerings and uses its money in carrying out the heaven assigned mission. It is not free to earn by the many business ventures, neither is it to spend for things not related to its work.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 17, pp. 8-10