Money, Ministry and Motivations

Yesterday, I got a strange call.  As a pastor, I am no stranger to odd requests and since the church phone rings in our house; we get to answer a lot of calls that might be better left to the machine.  When I answered the phone yesterday morning, the person on the other end didn’t bother with any pleasantries like an introduction or name; she simply blurted out the words, “Do you take credit cards?”  I have to admit that I was caught completely off guard by both the question and the directness with which it was offered.  The only response I could come up with that quickly was, “This is a church,” with an astonished tone of voice.

Obviously this girl has made a lot of these calls, because she wasn’t fazed in the least at my response.  She said that she understood that she was indeed calling a church and asked me again if we take credit cards.  At this point, I simply said that we don’t take them and she clarified my statement by saying that if people wished to give to our church they must do so by cash or check to which I replied, yes.  She didn’t explain why she had called or say anything else at this point, but simply disconnected the call.  I still have no idea who they were or whether this was a survey or what.  I was astounded at both the tone of the call and the content and it jarred me into thinking about the reasons for the call.

I know that there are churches that do take credit cards.  As our society increasingly moves away from writing checks (which is something that we rarely do I will admit), and cash becomes less used in favor of the ease and convenience of debit and credit cards at the register (which saves those poor cashiers from having to count out change); this may become more of an issue for churches.  I am curious what you all think about the situation.  I have personal aversions to credit cards in church because the Bible actively discourages indebtedness because the borrower becomes a slave to the lender (thank you Dave Ramsey for helping me learn that lesson), so I can’t imagine this being a good idea for that regard.  But debit cards function in the same manner as credit cards in terms of how they are processed; so if you make provision for the use of them, you open the door to the credit card issue again.  I am curious what those of you who read this think about this issue.

And since I am already talking about money, I have another subject to mention along those lines.  I have written previously about the fact that ministry must be a calling as opposed to a career or else it will ultimately be in vain.  I still stand by my statements in this regard and recently heard another story that deepened my convictions in this matter.  While I cannot share any details here, it came to my attention that a sister church had called a pastor who decided not to come because they couldn’t meet his salary demands.  As a pastor who has spent many years in a bi-vocational role, I still find it hard to imagine how a pastor can make a decision based on the salary he will receive from a church.  I know this can be a thorny issue for some, but for me it goes back to the heart of what Jesus taught in Matthew.  Our Father knows what we need to live, and He has stated plainly that He will provide for our needs.  I can echo what Paul said about learning to be content with much or with little.  God has been gracious to let me experience both; and I learned well that He took care of me in either situation regardless of what I made.

Money is one of those issues that can really get intense.  It is said that arguments over money are the most frequent kind of arguments, so it is bound to be a touchy subject.  I think the Word makes it clear that if money is our master; we will have no room for another.  Do you think God would take a credit card?  Is it wrong for a church or ministry to do so?  I will admit that I am very glad that I can use my debit card to pay for study materials and things like that online.  What do you think?

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Categories: Christianity, church, Culture, Fun, Signs of the Times | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Money, Ministry and Motivations

  1. There are churches that pay a salary!!!
    you are kidding me, what a rip! I have been paying good money for 6 years for the pleasure of preaching Christ, and Him Crucified and Risen.
    Worth every penny.

  2. Will,
    You humble me brother. The church I am at now is the first church I have served at where I haven’t had to work a full-time job alongside my ministry. It is only due to the fact that we are in an area with a really low cost of living and a church that is established and stable.
    I completely agree with you that it is worth the privilege to pay for it and I have said many times that I would continue in the ministry whether they paid me or not. I have done it before, and I would do it again.
    God bless you brother.

  3. That’s a good question (credit for offerings).

    I have never thought about it before.

  4. That just creeps me out. It also amuses me to think of ushers dressed like waiters at TGIFriday’s working the pews with their little wireless swipe machines.

    Mainly, it creeps me out. I tend to be a stickler for Scriptural authority, and I find little to indicate Our Father being sanguine about spending money you don’t have to “give” to the church. I recognize that there are some who use a credit card “correctly”, paying it off monthly, but I see it as a weaker brother issue. I would hate to help a brother’s inability to budget spin out of control. Besides, the card processors take a cut off the top. Should the church be “tithing” to Chase?

  5. Aardvark,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I tend to agree with you on the credit card thing. Of course I really appreciated the picture of ushers dressed as TGIFriday’s waitstaff. That may be happening already in some of those “seeker-friendly” churches for all I know. I wonder what kind of flair they would make them wear?

  6. Vintage buttons from the Jesus movement…”one way” buttons, icthus flair. Godspell rainbow suspenders, and of course, your “17 years perfect Sunday School attendance” pin. “BudWiseUp: this Blood’s for you” t-shirt optional.

    What happens when your card is declined? Would one have to go forward, or would there be some Ananias & Sapphira action?

    Sorry…I purposely avoided the flair issue. I have no control. Feel free to crawl my blog. It’s a mix of Biblicality, pop-culture, polly-ticks, and oddness. Ooooh, does that make IT seeker-friendly?!?

    Have a hugely blessed week!

  7. I have been so busy in the discussion over at Steve’s blog and in study that I haven’t had time for much else online. I did get a chance to check out your site briefly, but I will have to block out some time to give it a more thorough look. I saw some things that were very interesting at first glace.

    Thanks again for the humorous interjection. You may have avoided the flair but it was the first thing that came to mind after I read your comment, so I think you successfully hinted at it.

    Blessings to you brother.

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