Reformed Theology Where do finances fit in when it comes to personal ministry endeavors?  Calvinism

Where do finances fit in when it comes to personal ministry endeavors?

Reformed Theology Where do finances fit in when it comes to personal ministry endeavors?  Calvinism
Where do finances fit in when it comes to personal ministry endeavors?

Sorry if the title is vague, I couldn't figure out how to word this concern exactly. My husband is getting his CPA license right now, and is an accountant. I did lots of financial management as a group home manager a few years back. Between these two factors, we are starting to get asked for financial advice a lot by the members of our church. We are both thrilled to offer support in this way, and glad we can use our experiences to help others, but we are encountering a trend that we don't know how to address.

Basically, the folks in our church are very passionate and motivated to pursue various personal ministry endeavors. I think that's awesome, and want to encourage more of that.

For example, many couples at our church adopt, do foster care or short-term orphan hosting. We have several couples that regularly host struggling families or individuals in their spare bedrooms. We have other couples who feel that they might be called to be long term missionaries, and are regularly taking short-term trips to get a feel for the work.

All of these things are good and Biblical and I'm definitely for them. But we've had several families and individuals come to us for help making these endeavors work financially, and it's clear to us from our perspective that these activities just don't work with their budgets. There is one couple for instance who does international orphan hosting for teens who are not eligible for adoption. We've seen their budget with our own eyes, and there isn't anything left to cut. Even with fundraising and grants, this family does not have the ability to pay for this. Every hosting round they've done, they have just charged it to credit cards that they really can't even pay the minimum balance on. We've advised them to do domestic foster care instead because it's more affordable, but they insist that this is their mission field. Situations like this are very common with the folks who have asked for our advice.

Another common scenario is a couple who thinks that they might be called to do missionary work in another country. So they take a short trip or two to this country to feel it out/make some connections with churches there. Then they do some traveling to raise funds for when they officially move there. All that makes perfect sense, except these couples sometimes can't even afford to take these initial trips even with fundraising. Some of them are charging thousands of dollars to credit cards that they can't pay off, all before they even quit their jobs to become missionaries relying on the (sometimes unreliable) donations of others.

I completely understand that God is our provider and that financial security is ultimately in His hands. I get that part of ministry is taking a leap in faith. Especially when it comes to orphan care, missionary work, church planting etc. In a sense, Christians taking on these responsibilities may always be pretty tight financially. To some extent that's just an expected aspect of these endeavors.

But there has to be a line somewhere, right? My husband and I don't want to be pessimistic but we are concerned especially about pursuing ministry on credit cards. That seems very unwise to us.

I guess I don't know what I'm asking. We feel stuck. We are often times the only ones telling our friends "no". We don't want to give people the impression that you have to be wealthy to adopt or do missionary work, or plant a church because you don't. We don't want to perpetuate the myth that a low income means you can't do certain types of ministry, because I think a lot of people automatically give themselves permission to not pursue the things that God has called them to do because they don't have a big paycheck.

On the other hand, when you are deeply in debt, can't handle small financial emergencies and so on, then what are we even supposed to say? Are we unbelieving for saying "no, you cannot pursue this ministry right now because you can't afford it?"

Where is the line between relying on God financially and being unwise financially?

Sorry if the title is vague, I couldn't figure out how to word this concern exactly. My husband is getting his CPA license right now, and is an accountant. I did lots of financial management as a group home manager a few years back. Between these two factors, we are starting to get asked for financial advice a lot by the members of our church. We are both thrilled to offer support in this way, and glad we can use our experiences to help others, but we are encountering a trend that we don't know how to address.

Basically, the folks in our church are very passionate and motivated to pursue various personal ministry endeavors. I think that's awesome, and want to encourage more of that.

For example, many couples at our church adopt, do foster care or short-term orphan hosting. We have several couples that regularly host struggling families or individuals in their spare bedrooms. We have other couples who feel that they might be called to be long term missionaries, and are regularly taking short-term trips to get a feel for the work.

All of these things are good and Biblical and I'm definitely for them. But we've had several families and individuals come to us for help making these endeavors work financially, and it's clear to us from our perspective that these activities just don't work with their budgets. There is one couple for instance who does international orphan hosting for teens who are not eligible for adoption. We've seen their budget with our own eyes, and there isn't anything left to cut. Even with fundraising and grants, this family does not have the ability to pay for this. Every hosting round they've done, they have just charged it to credit cards that they really can't even pay the minimum balance on. We've advised them to do domestic foster care instead because it's more affordable, but they insist that this is their mission field. Situations like this are very common with the folks who have asked for our advice.

Another common scenario is a couple who thinks that they might be called to do missionary work in another country. So they take a short trip or two to this country to feel it out/make some connections with churches there. Then they do some traveling to raise funds for when they officially move there. All that makes perfect sense, except these couples sometimes can't even afford to take these initial trips even with fundraising. Some of them are charging thousands of dollars to credit cards that they can't pay off, all before they even quit their jobs to become missionaries relying on the (sometimes unreliable) donations of others.

I completely understand that God is our provider and that financial security is ultimately in His hands. I get that part of ministry is taking a leap in faith. Especially when it comes to orphan care, missionary work, church planting etc. In a sense, Christians taking on these responsibilities may always be pretty tight financially. To some extent that's just an expected aspect of these endeavors.

But there has to be a line somewhere, right? My husband and I don't want to be pessimistic but we are concerned especially about pursuing ministry on credit cards. That seems very unwise to us.

I guess I don't know what I'm asking. We feel stuck. We are often times the only ones telling our friends "no". We don't want to give people the impression that you have to be wealthy to adopt or do missionary work, or plant a church because you don't. We don't want to perpetuate the myth that a low income means you can't do certain types of ministry, because I think a lot of people automatically give themselves permission to not pursue the things that God has called them to do because they don't have a big paycheck.

On the other hand, when you are deeply in debt, can't handle small financial emergencies and so on, then what are we even supposed to say? Are we unbelieving for saying "no, you cannot pursue this ministry right now because you can't afford it?"

Where is the line between relying on God financially and being unwise financially?

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Submitted March 11, 2017 at 07:23PM by THUNDER-PUNCH