Is it wrong for a church to borrow money for a building?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by rpniman, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. rpniman

    rpniman
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    The church I'm a member of has a very old building that is quickly deteriorating. It is also small and landlocked, and really must be replaced. The general consensus is that we should buy land, and build a new church building. With the new building we can also add a gym and other tools to help reach people.

    The only debate is whether we should continue to repair the church's nagging issues until we can save enough money to pay cash, or whether we should move forward more aggressively, secure financing, and build sooner rather than later.

    I'm of the opinion that it is better to borrow what we need to complete the project and start reaching more lost souls that will never be willing to come to church simply to hear the word of God. I believe that we are supposed to reach out to people where they are, not expect that they are going to always come looking for us. And an updated building with recreational facilities would definetly help in that endeavor. But to do that the church would obviously be in a position of debt, which many, including the pastor, doesn't think is right.

    Am I off base?
     
  2. Tom Butler

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    This is an important question. Even in my own church there are differences of opinion about this issue.

    It ranges from one extreme to the other with some other viewpoints in between. On more than one occasion, I have heard deacons and other church leaders say they felt a church ought to always be indebt because it gives the church something to work for. That without debt, we would become complacent.

    On the other end are those who believe that churches should never go into debt and should save up the money to pay cash for everything.

    I have seen it work both ways. When we relocated, built a new plant, our church was more than $500,000 in debt. Debt payments were nearly $5,000 a month, and in order to make those payments we cut back on everything we could. Cooperative program, other mission projects. Every budget decision was driven by how it would affect our ability to pay our debt. There were some close calls but we never missed a payment, and in fact paid it off two years early.

    If you have the luxury of saving up and building up your funds, great. That does not help rpiniman's problem. His church building needs immediate attention. I see no choice to but to borrow the money and make the repairs and trust God to provide.

    I know about all the admonitions. Neither a borrow nor a lender be. The borrower is slave to the lender I agree with them, but we're dealing with real life here.
     
  3. LeBuick

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    As many mortgage burning services as I've been to I thought it was normal for a Church to borrow money.

    How is a new congregation supposed to acquire a building?
     
  4. dh1948

    dh1948
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    Another perspective

    Debt on real property can be looked at as an investment. Since the property is usually worth more than the amount that is owed on it, it's not the same as consumer debt. Consumer debt is what gets us in trouble as individuals. Most churches don't have any consumer debt, but many have investment debt and are liquid at any point in time. From this perspective, debt is not a bad thing considering the benefit.

    What is that benefit? Let's say the church puts a million borrowed dollars into a new facility. Let's say that with the new building the potential of the church to reach more people for Jesus over the course of the debt retirement is many times more than it would be if the church stays in the old facility and saves money for the next twenty years. That's a long sentence...don't know if it is intelligible or not!

    What I am trying to say is that over the course of twenty years, many lives could be reached with the aid of a new facility. In today's world, most people, especially younger ones, are more likely to attend the church that has a nice facility as opposed to the one with antiquated facilities.

    Maybe I can explain it this way....in theory....

    Don't build....miss out on reaching hundreds of people over the next twenty years.

    Build....reach hundreds of people over the next twenty years...people who otherwise would not have been reached.

    The cost? What difference does it make? Anyone want to try to place a monetary value on one soul?
     
  5. Revmitchell

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    Pr 22:7 The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.


    What ever happened to just praying, fasting, and waiting on God to move in a situation bigger than us? We live in a day and age when the church is accused of failing in evangelism because we don't go far enough in man's philosophy and culture. The truth is we have gone to far in it and that is why the church is failing. We no longer wait in weakness and fear on a true demonstration of the Spirit and Power of God.
     
    #5 Revmitchell, Jul 29, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2008
  6. Gershom

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    AMEN!

    Who was it that said, "If we build it, they will come"? :)

    If one of the deciding factors falls upon motives for drawing people in, I would seriously question that. The church is for equipping the saints to be witnesses and do the work of the ministry. So the weight is upon US as Christians to go out and minister, trusting in the Spirit of God to do the drawing, not upon better church facilities to do the job for us. If you want to meet people where they are, go to them! We have such opportunities every day. Look at the example of the early church in the book of Acts. Incredible! And that same power is available today.
     
  7. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    The same rules that apply to our personal stewardship should apply to the church. Consumer debt is bad, but mortgages to buy land or to build can be a very wise choice, for individuals as well as churches. How many of us could afford homes without a mortgage? Yet the run of current foreclosures nationwide shows us how foolish some borrowers and lenders are.

    Revmitchell asked
    and while I do not agree with everything he said I think he asks a very good question. Are you sure that purchasing this land and building is what God wants for your church. If it is not then even if you had the money it would be a bad idea. If it is then God will provide. That does not mean always providing cash up front, but providing affordable financing options.
    Once you know God's will then I would say move aggressively to that end, but a period of prayer and fasting is certainly appropriate.

    I have seen churches on both ends of the spectrum and they are both wrong. Some churches say "never go in debt." I know a church right now with a membership of around 200 people and over $500,000 sitting in the bank. God did not give them that money for it to make interest, it was given to reach souls. On the other end I have seen churches blindly saying, "This is God's will and we will do it even if we can't afford it." Then they get caught up in payments greater than their income, use up their reserves and loose everything.

    Before you go into debt I would advise the following steps if I were your pastor:
    1. Prayer and fasting, individually and collectively to seek God's will.
    2. Present the financing plan to the church (not just a finance committee) How much are you going to borrow, how will it be spent and how will it be repaid.
    3. Write and get approved a church budget that includes the new mortgage payment.
    4. Start operating under the new budget. Since the mortgage has not been finalized yet put the mortgage payment money into a special down payment account. I would also allow for outside contributions to this "building fund" account.
    5. After six months of making the projected mortgage payments into your building account if you still show a positive cash flow that should prove to any doubters in the congregation that you can afford the payments and you also will have built up at least some down payment money.
    6. Then you can present the actual mortgage numbers to the church for their approval. Again I would put this before the entire church not just some finance committee.

    By following these steps you have an assurance you are following God's will and should be able to convince anyone that it is within the financial ability of the church. In most cases at this point what you are going to see is first your members will get excited about the building and will increase their giving. Then, when complete the new facilities will create new growth with will result in more income for the church and you will pay off the mortgage in record time. Then you can spend your time managing the new growth and changes in your church caused by new souls coming to Christ.
     
  8. preachinjesus

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    I like much of what you said Tentmaker.

    I don't think debt is a bad thing. It's just a thing. It's inanimate. It's what we do with it that matters. Properly leveraged debt can open up areas in our personal, business, and ecclesial lives for tremendous growth.

    All of the churches I have been part of and/or served in have some level debt. It's okay, it's not a bad thing so long as it is properly managed. I don't understand these people who say things like "all debt it bad" and "Christians should be in debt." So long as you properly manage it, don't get loans from companies who prey on the weak, and have your financial house in order it doesn't matter. I've seen churches and people held hostage to some ridiculous standard that isn't even Scriptural.

    Of course I'm sure some will suggest I'm willing to open the "floodgates of evil debt" in our lives. That's not it at all. Reasonable financial leveraging can be a tremendous creator of growth and momentum for any organization or person. It's when it gets out of hand that we need to back off debt hoarding

    The church I grew up in decided to build some education space. They built it about 10 years ago. Took out a 30 year note with a local bank for about $2 million. This last month they had a note burning service as the structure was paid off. They've been growing and doing incredible ministry because of the added space. There are tales like this across the United States too.

    Of course the bigger question is, why do we need the space? If it continues to bring people on campus and builds a "bomb-shelter" mentality than it mght not be needed. But if it is to help facilitate ongoing growth and see continued growth it probably is a good thing.

    Only you, the church leadership, and fellow parishioners can, after truly seeking God, know if this is a good step for you. :)
     
  9. Bible Believing Bill

    Bible Believing Bill
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    Why is the church deteriorating? If you are not taking care of what God has already given you then you should not be looking for something new and better. Has it been allowed to fall into disrepair out of lack of money or out of a lack of desire to keep it up?

    Have you outgrown your current building? If not you don't need a bigger church, what you need is to fill the one you have. If the church is full then you should have enough income to do the necessary repairs and the church should be in good condition, and when your church is full it would be time to look for a larger space so that you can continue to grow.

    However if the church isn't full then you need instill a burden for the lost in your membership. When there is a burden for the lost the church will grow, as it grows so will the desire to give, and the desire to take care of what God has given you.


    Bill
     
  10. webdog

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    ...and if God tells you to get a mortgage? :)
     
  11. donnA

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    What I don't think is a wise investment is continuing to invest money in a building that is in bad shape, you will never bring the value of that building up short of tearing it down and rebuilding. If the current building is as bad as you say I can not see it being good stewartship to make repairs to try and keep it from crumbling down around you, while you save to build a new building, and discard the old building which you just paid to repair.
    Not mention is the old building completely safe?
     
  12. preachinjesus

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    Just to toss this one out there...how is the Pastor's vision for your church leading your people to do great things?

    If your church is growing and needs the space that is a more heavily weighted concern. If your church is stagnant and needs repairs, maybe focusing on developing the congregation would be more important. If the church is declining and there is no clear vision or purpose, maybe there needs to be serious consideration to establishing one.

    People don't come to church because of the building and stay, they might come to a building but they will stay for a vision.
     
  13. annsni

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    Our church has gone through 2 building projects without any debt. I'm not sure how the original building was built but the first expansion was in the 80s and was done with no debt - as was our most recent just under $2 million dollar 25,000 foot expansion. We started collecting for it about a year before we broke ground - we would not break ground unless we had half of the projected cost in our bank so we had to wait a time. There were times that the work stopped because we just didn't have the money, and a lot of the work after the initial framing and stuff that NEEDED to be done by professionals was done by the congregation from screwing down subflooring to putting up sheetrock and running electrical and networking/phone wires. We'd run the wires, electricians would connect them. We saved over a million doing it that way.

    There was never any fundraising efforts for the project either. No magazine sales, bake sales or car washes. Our pastor's thoughts that he's shared with the congregation is that we serve a big God - a God who is able to use His people to provide what we need. We don't need gimicks. If we're going to do it, we'll pay for it. None of the money came from the general budget but was a completely separate account so that we knew what we had and we didn't take from other church activities.

    I have to say, watching the church grow through all of this has been amazing. Those 300+ people who pitched in to build/paint/do whatever stuff that needed to be done can look at the work that they did and say "this is MY church". What a great blessing for all of us!

    So, I say that if God is blessing a church with a vision for growth, He will provide the funds. If there are no funds, then maybe it's not God's will at this time. Scripture is pretty clear about debt and how can a church teach it's congregation about being fiscally responsible if a church cannot follow it's own teaching?
     
  14. LeBuick

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    Then

    Or else you will be reminded that

    The end...
     

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