There are a lot of questions for churches have during this time of COVID-19. When your main source of funds is giving in an offering plate– as for many it still is– and your church is no longer gathering, the questions begin to come in as to how the church will pay its bills and support its staff.
And then there’s the question of the government’s small business loans (most churches are tax-exempt small business for tax keeping purposes). Should you take them as they will be grants if used correctly, or refuse them? Let’s go through the different scenarios.
Send us your tithes through other means
Many churches have setup systems where you can give online, or have asked their congregants to send money into them via the mail. While the online methods may take a transaction fee and the checks will have to be collected, counted and deposited by someone into the bank, this method keeps the money flowing to the local church and lets it keep the lights on. With almost every church having some kind of virtual presence, this can encourage the faithful to keep sending the money in and will keep the pastor and staff paid.
9 Marks encourages pastors to focus on the main mission of your church, remind the people why they give, and shrink your budget wisely.
Should We Take the Government’s Money?
Multiple good people have asked this question. Tax money is actually the people’s money, and if it’s a loan that will be a grant, then if you take it for payroll and make sure to meet the qualifications, then that money will greatly help the church’s bottom line.
At the same time, you’re taking a government bailout, and putting your trust that the loan will be turned into a grant, and not clawed back or have strings added down the line. Plus your testimony in the community.
Should You Have Been a Better Steward?
But if your parishioners or your government should have had money set aside for this instead of printing more, shouldn’t your church as well? If the mission of the church is to care for its people, to be a shelter and a support for one another in good times and bad, shouldn’t that fund to help the body be of primary importance– before there’s a COVID-19?
Maybe churches should take this time to evaluate its financial position, like many people have had to look at their finances and say to themselves:
- Maybe I should have a larger emergency fund
- Maybe I should have bought more toilet paper
- Maybe I should work to pay off my house early.
If people should be thinking this, churches should be thinking:
- Maybe our fund to help our congregants needs to be bigger so we can help, rather than the government
- Maybe we need to have money so that we can help the community in times of crisis
- How do we use the crisis to show others around us that we have hope?
We’re not all George Muller, who could pray and God would provide, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be like Joseph and be prepared for calamity.
Which is the better testimony during times of crisis? To have your hand out hoping that people that are hurting, have lost their jobs or are sick will be able to keep supporting you, or to be able to support them and others?