You have heard the saying: “We are saving it for a rainy day.” This may be prudent in one’s personal life [The Bible warns against: (1) wastefulness (Proverbs 12:27; 19:24; 21:20); (2) the life of luxury, prodigal living of the high life (Proverbs 21:17 cf. Luke 15); (3) abuse of credit (Proverbs 6:1-5; 11:15; 17:18; 22:7); (4) lack of preparation for the future (Proverbs 30:25). Moreover, it teaches that we are to: (1) support self and family (2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 5:4, 8, 16; 2 Corinthians 12:14). (2) Pay financial obligations (Psalm 37:21; Proverbs 6:1-5; James 5:4), including taxes (Matthew 17:24-27; 22:15-21; Romans 13:1-7)]. This may be prudent in business [though, money is a tool for growth. It should not sit idle, but put to work – at least drawing interest when possible (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27)].
What about churches? “Saving for a rainy day” may be prudent. Some reserves are needed. Major expenses do occur (roofs, foundations, plumbing, electrical, parking lots, flooring). Nature can be destructive (hurricanes, tornadoes, hail, wind, termites). Economic downturns do occur (members get laid off from their jobs or lose their jobs). Members disappoint (get disgruntled and leave), etc.
However, I suspect that sometimes the “saving for a rainy day” is just an excuse for not using talent, or even hoarding. Remember, money can be viewed as a tool for growth (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27).
The work of the church is: evangelism (proclaiming the good news, trying to reach the lost); edification (building up, strengthening, fortifying members); benevolence (kindness toward those in need); and worship of God (see article – The Work of the Church by B.H.). The church should use its money to accomplish these works, to the glory of God, and as an attempt to help save man.
Franklin Camp made these pertinent observations: (1) “One of the blessings of my life has been the privilege of working with some elders who believe that opportunities create responsibilities, and that, when they lead the church in accepting responsibilities, God will provide the needs… How many doors are closed by leadership today by simply saying, ‘That is not in our budget?’’(Principles and Perils of Leadership, p. 10). (2) “What is a budget? …it is a means of growing character When elders decide that a budget is raising money instead of developing spiritual lives, they have lost their concentration on the principles of Christianity” (ibid, p. 33).
What about that rainy day? Let me suggest to you that Now Is That Rainy Day! Society is at a moral low. The illegitimate birth rate in 2012 was 40.7% (Roger Clegg, nationalreview.com, October 11, 2013). It was 5.3% in 1960 (William Bennett, The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, p. 46). The abortion rate is 21% (gutmacher.org, July 2014). “Cohabitation has increased 900% over the last 50 years” (Lauren Fox, theatlantic.com, March 20, 2014). “Two-thirds of couples married in 2012 shared a home together for more than two years before they ever waltzed down an aisle” (ibid). The divorce rate in 2010 was 41% of all first marriages; 60% of second marriages; and 73% of third marriages (divorcestatistics.org). The divorce rate was one in six in 1940 (Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation, p. 231). In 2012 there was 386.9 violent crimes per 100,000. The number was 160.9 per 100,000 in 1960 (Wikipedia.org). Property crime in 2012 was 2,859.2 per 100,000. The number was 1,726.3 in 1960 (ibid). Churches are struggling. “Somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 churches close their doors every year… Between 2010 and 2012, more than half of all churches in America added not one new member. Each year, nearly 3 million previous churchgoers enter the ranks of the ‘religiously unaffiliated’” (Steve McSwain, Why Nobody Wants to go to Church Anymore, Huffpost, October 14, 2013). “More than 40% ‘say’ they go to church weekly. As it turns out, however, less than 20% are actually in church” (ibid). The Disciples of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran church, Lutheran church (Missouri Synod), Episcopal church, American Baptist, United Methodist church, Presbyterian church, and the United Church of Christ all saw declines of adherents between 1990 – 2000. During this same period, the church of Christ grew barely by 2.7% (Flavil Yeakley Jr., Why They Left, p. 30). Do not get too excited. The population of the U.S. increased 13% during this same period (Bloomberg.com). We are losing about 45% of our young people when they leave home, about 12% fall away but return in time, 33% fall away and do not return (Flavil Yeakley Jr., Why They Left, p. 30). My personal observation is that most local churches are graying. If this is not a rainy day, then what is? It seems time for a full-court press, but such is another metaphor.