Reality: Church Debt #25

The fuel oil company called to say they would be unable to make further deliveries until the church’s bill was paid! I hung up the telephone and sat there in shock. It was fall, just over a year since we had arrived at the church. No payment had been made on the bill since the previous mid- winter delivery.

I knew nothing about the church finances. I did not know what anyone gave or what the expenses were. The treasurer was trusted, and every Sunday someone took the offering to his home. He totally managed the church’s finances and the system had worked well…we thought!

I went to the church treasurer, an older man, and asked him what was going on. He very calmly took me to his large roll top desk, and pulled a few envelopes out of one compartment: “These are the unpaid bills. I did not have the money to pay them and I knew they would send another copy.” Together we added up how much was owed to the fuel company, the electric company, and the insurance company. The treasurer had probably been totally honest, but he simply had not kept the people informed of the situation. And besides, how do you tell seven elderly people, a teenage organist, and a young minister whose annual salary was $4,000 they had to give more, much more, to keep the bills paid.

The congregation was beginning to come together. Now about 50 attended with some regularity, there had been a few church gatherings, and spirits were high!

Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, had said “God’s work, done in God’s way, never lacks for God’s supply”. To date in our lives we had found this to be true. So…here we go! The church was God’s work, and we were doing God’s work in God’s way to the very best of our ability. Where was the supply? I had no choice but to take the issue to the congregation.

Before the meeting I went to Ralph and Judy, a young couple who had recently begun to attend the church, explained the situation, and asked if they would be willing to become, together, the church treasurer. They agreed to do this, and to give the Official Board a financial statement each month that told total contributions, total expenses, and the balance in the checking account. This was no great challenge. God had supplied a new treasurer! (41 years later – still treasurers – no big deal?)

At the congregational meeting I laid out the problem and said the contributions needed to more than double for a specific period of time to get through the crunch. We also agreed to change treasurers. I then told them that Ralph and Judy were willing to accept this responsibility.

Suddenly the giving increased, the bills were gradually caught up, and from that time on the income matched or exceeded the expenses.

“God’s work, Done in God’s Way, Never lacks for God’s supply!”

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