The High Cost of Doing Business

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Matthew 21:33-46

The pastor stood before his congregation and made the following announcement: “Folks, I have bad news and good news and bad news. The bad news: We need immediate repairs for our church building. The good news: We already have all the money we need to pay for the project. The bad news: The money we have is still in your pockets!”

The pastor stood reverently at the pulpit, bowed his head, and spoke to his congregation: “Before we take our offering, let’s all bow our heads and meditate on how much it costs to heat the church.” We are invited to great things when we receive small things greatly.

Ronald Warwick, captain of the luxury cruise ship Queen Elizabeth II, questioned a passenger who paid full fare for his dog to join them on an around-the-world cruise. (Accommodations range from $25,000 to $150,000.) “Wouldn’t it have cost less to leave him at home?” “Oh no,” the man said. “When we are away a long time, the dog’s psychiatrist fees are so high, it’s less expensive to bring him along.”–USA Today (10/25/95)

The dollar is a miraculous thing. It’s our personal energy reduced to portable form and endowed with power we do not ourselves possess. It can go where we cannot go; speak languages we cannot speak; lift burdens we cannot lift; save lives which we cannot deal with directly. Our dollar given to the church buys more to relieve human needs than any other place we might choose to invest it.

I have been pastoring churches for a long time and have pastored four congregations. My very first solo pastorate was Mount Zion Christian Church. The young people wanted to buy a pool table with money they had raised. It went to a congregational vote – over a pool table. The vote was on the pool table, but the issue was to allow teenagers in the church at times other than worship.

My second pastorate was Charlestown Christian Church. The Christian Women’s Fellowship got into a fight over what type of flooring to put in the dining room of the parsonage. At no time did they ever ask me or my wife what we wanted since we lived in the house. The issue was control, giving away control, to others and to God.

In Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a small congregation went into partnership with a private school to stop white flight from the city’s core. A small group of people saw a greater need, that property values were going down and it was hurting minority children more. So, to keep families in the community they offered an alternative school. It grew so large that they had to bring mobile buildings in to accommodate the growth.

Hillside Christian Church I commend you for your vision, leadership and willingness to sacrifice to start a new congregation. When no other churches were willing to step forward or enter into a partnership, you where.
The only negative I heard from this congregation was concern for the health of its ministers. One person even said, “How can we not do it, that what being a church is all about.”

A Church Budget is a theological statement about what we believe and what we hold important. I make no apologies for what it cost to operate a church.
We express concern that administrative costs for the local church are high – we should be giving more to ministry! In the local congregation, administrative cost will always be high, that is where most everyday ministry takes place. I knew a man many years ago who said, “I send my money to “The Hour Of Power,” because they are really doing the Lord’s work. However, I noticed Robert Schuller wasn’t the one who conducted his funeral service, nor was his service held in Garden Grove.

Jesus said, “for the worker deserves his wages.” (Luke 10:7) All of life has a cost, in whatever we do. I am concerned about what is going on with the United Way and especially Big Brothers and Sisters. Look at the unreal predicament that the Church is put the organization in. We would much rather say to these children that grow up and become a juvenile offender than to run the risk of growing up differently than us.

There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. The world was created by God and God owns it. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. God improved the world for us. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third.
They didn’t want to pay for what they were using that didn’t belong to them.
They even killed the owners son!

Annually, Americans spend $26.6 billion on lottery tickets and give $19.6 billion to churches. The problem with our giving is that we too often give the widow’s mite, without the widow’s spirit.

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