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Funding The Local Church: The Debt-Free Debate

The Continuing Debate I recently read the 1996 Moody Press book by Jeff Berg and Jim Burgess, with foreword by Larry Burkett, titled "The Debt-Free Church". The distinction is made in the text between “debt” as unsatisfied commitments and “borrowing” money from individuals or lending institutions. The comment is made that perhaps the book should have been titled “The Borrowing-Free Church,” placing the emphasis on the ills of ever borrowing money. The majority of the quotations in the book are from Larry Burkett`s writings or from retired architect Ray Bowman who wrote "When Not to Build". I disagree with both of these authors on this topic. After nearly 24 years of work as a conservative church development consultant, I do not believe their views on this issue represent an accurate interpretation of Scripture or a wise approach to ministry and facility development. I agree with Berg and Burgess that there have been many problems and failures in churches related to building program debts. But building a case on atypical extremes and abuses is wrong. Many churches have used borrowed funds wisely and have prospered. Borrowing churches are not necessarily ...

Funding The Local Church: Liabilities Of Fund Raising

As I awaited my opportunity to present church development at the church board meeting, the church treasurer presented the financial report. “Since announcing our building fund, we have accumulated $30,000 through designated giving—not nearly enough to launch our building program. However, our giving in the general fund and missions accounts is way down.” I have often heard similar comments in churches that have established a building fund, invited the people to contribute offerings to the fund, or engaged in fund raising for expansion. In many instances, giving has been designated to the building fund which previously had been directed to the general fund or missions. This practice may have minimal risks in a committed congregation of assimilated members who accept ownership of ministry and giving responsibilities. But there are many liabilities that must be considered in most churches characterized as 80/20 churches—80 percent of the giving and serving from 20 percent of the people (a national average in evangelical churches). What are the liabilities of fund raising to be avoided? a. The appeal is primarily to the existing contributors. The self-effort of ...

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