During the Congregational Meeting this Sunday, one of the items on which our church members will be voting is the approval of a mortgage to complete the Northside Community Center.
Pastor Bob below explains Wildwood Church’s position on borrowing money for this intended purpose.
Does Romans 13:8 prohibit loans of any kind? Some believe this is a decisive verse which would make borrowing a sin, “owe no one anything, except to love each other…”
Romans 13:7 says “pay to all what is owed them”. This may well include some aspect of indebtedness, but certainly taxes and other forms of financial obligations. So to assume that Romans 13:8 prohibits owing anything to anybody would contradict the reality of Romans 13:7. We think Romans 13:8 means that you should always pay what you owe but that you never “pay off” the demand to love. You never complete your obligation to love, because it is constant, perpetual and a fulfillment of the moral law of God.
The Bible certainly has warnings about debt and borrowing such as Proverbs 22:7, Deut. 28:12. One of the curses of disobedience in the Old Testament is Deut. 28:44-45 which says Israel would be the borrower and not the lender, thus, putting itself in a position of slavery. But the Bible regulates and condones some aspects of borrowing and lending. See Deut. 15:7-8, Deut. 24:10, and Exodus 22:14. If owing, borrowing or any other form of indebtedness is prohibited why would the Mosaic law contain provision to regulate it? Israelites were commanded to lend to fellow citizens in need. It cannot be a virtue to lend but a sin to borrow at the same time.
Is the borrower the lender’s slave? The scripture speaks in these terms in Proverbs 22:7. Is this always the case? Is borrowing a de facto form of slavery? We think this depends on the circumstance. We are not borrowing out of distress, desperation or helplessness. There is nothing in our decision to borrow that is placing our church or anyone in it in a situation where food, shelter or livelihood is at risk. We have obligations to the lender but we are not owned, controlled or in slavery to the lender. Borrowing for the Northside Community Center is based on a strategic plan, well conceived with acceptable financial risk.
So our understanding of borrowing is not a matter of sin, as lack of faith but a matter of stewardship and wisdom.
Why do we believe securing this mortgage is a wise decision?
Wildwood has displayed over the years great fiscal prudence in all matters regarding real property. We have conservative leaders who would never make our church “building poor”.
Our biggest challenge over the years has not been property decisions but tithing and sacrificial giving limitations. We believe if all members of our church tithed we would not need to borrow money or have a Capital Campaign. We would need to form a team to consider how to allocate the excess.
3. The Numbers
We are expecting with this mortgage to have the lowest percentage of indebtedness against our overall church budget since we moved to our current location in 1995. At that time the percentage of debt was 25% of our annual budget. We forecast the percent to be 11% of our annual budget for this new loan.
4. Loan Built In
This loan does not require that we raise our annual budget because it is already built into our existing budget. In fact it is projected to be lower than our current budget for loan payoff. The excess will be directly applied to principal. We anticipate paying off the mortgage in 7 years or less.
We value the teaching of both Crown Ministry and Financial Peace University. These organizations acknowledge the wisdom of prudent borrowing for real property as long as the borrowing meets certain criteria. We believe our plan far exceeds the criteria for the purchase of a home. Additionally we would question the validity of any challenge to corporate borrowing by anyone who has a mortgage on their own home or has encouraged a mortgage on a home for a family member or friend. We think this double standard would be inconsistent.
Many say that if God wants something built He will supply all the funds, ahead of time. If this is one’s position we would expect the same principle applied to that person’s personal residence. We would prefer to fulfill this vision to make a difference in our community totally debt free, this is why we will also institute a Capital Campaign. Furthermore, we believe it is also an act of faith to trust God for adequate income to meet expenses month by month, like all of us do in our personal finances.
Our ultimate goal as a church is to seek to be salt and light in our community and to help fulfill the Great Commission. We believe our vision offers a creative and unique way to love our community. A prudent and deliberate fiscal plan to help jump start this process is considered within the bounds of Biblical stewardship.
Thank you for helping to make this a reality.