Accounting and Money for Ministerial Leadership: Key Practical and Theological Insights

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Spending money is also commended in the Bible when the money is spent in generosity to others. God commends spending lavishly on a dinner party for your neighbors, provided you are not looking for anything in return Luke It is only lavish spending on your own pleasures that the Bible forbids James However, this moves beyond the present topic of spending to aid the poor , so we will end this discussion here.

Christians are called to work not only at the small enterprise and person-to-person level in seeking to alleviate poverty, but also at the macro or structural level. But the social, political and economic motivation and means to do so have never come together on a global scale. This too is a form of human sin and error. We are to be involved in changing the organizations and systems of provision and wealth in our societies.

Although we may feel too small and insignificant, too far removed from the halls of power in our society, God has a habit of using outsiders and insignificant people to bring great economic changes in societies. Born in the insignificant land of Canaan, sold into slavery in Egypt, imprisoned on false charges, and otherwise marginalized, he eventually reformed the economic structures of the great nation of Egypt.

With great prophetic foresight, he implemented an extensive network of storage cities, where harvested grain from the good productive years could be kept for times of famine. These were the original food banks! But because he did challenge and change the system, poor and rich alike were able to survive. Likewise, when the nation of Israel was held captive in Babylon, they found themselves powerless and disenfranchised. This became possible when a few young men, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were drafted into leadership roles within the Babylonian government.

Rather than succumbing to the temptations of luxury afforded by their new positions, they challenged the system. They risked their positions—and their lives—to fight injustice and inequity. By acting as agents of change, Daniel and his friends worked for—not against—the prosperity of their host nation. In one case, this meant Daniel challenging the king directly.

Wherever we find ourselves working—in government departments, political parties, non-governmental organizations, municipal structures, multinational corporations, small businesses, health or education systems, local neighborhoods—we too should seek to work for the welfare and prosperity of those we serve. This may require changing the priorities, structures, and processes of such organizations—particularly where they oppress or marginalize the vulnerable or the poor.

Whether it be in advocating for fairer taxation systems, helping draft legislation against monopolistic or anti-competitive practices, or challenging the way employers and unions relate to each other in a particular industry, there are many opportunities for Christians to bring systemic change to the way provision and wealth are obtained. One example, in the Book of Ezra, concerns Cyrus the Persian. God is not restricted to bringing about his redemptive purposes by working solely through his own people. Like Ezra and later in the story, Nehemiah we also can work with non-believers to redeem the world.

Jeff Dykstra describes partnering with business, government and non-governmental organizations to reduce hunger Click to watch. One way of doing this is partnering with individuals and organizations who are seeking to improve the economic realities of the poor in all kinds of ways.

There are many non-Christian individuals and institutions undertaking great work in providing meaningful employment, small business opportunities, poverty relief and community development. We can work in solidarity and partnership with such people and causes. Of course, we need to be discerning here. It is important to ensure that the effects of such partnerships are consistent with biblical aims and values.

Nehemiah is one biblical character whose attitudes, lifestyle, strategies and priorities work together to change society for the betterment of poor people. As governor of the city of Jerusalem—working for a foreign power—he risks his position to advocate rebuilding of the city walls in order to protect the native mostly poor Jewish population. Nehemiah is well rewarded materially for his leadership role. It would have been easy for him just to enjoy the privileges that went with his position. Yet when Nehemiah is approached by a group of Jews who are struggling economically he intervenes to help them.

Like many Jews, they had ended up with crippling debt, forfeited their land, even becoming enslaved, because many wealthy people exploited unfair advantages during a tough economic climate. Remarkably they did! Additionally, Nehemiah organizes a relief program for those in distress and institutes long-term financial reforms to ensure those impoverished were able to develop a livelihood again.

To reduce the tax burden on the people, he takes over the expense of Jews, officials and foreigners, serving in his administration. In doing so he expresses a generous hospitality, hosting them daily at his own table Nehemiah We can seek guidance about provision from God and expect that doing so will help us meet our needs, the needs of those who depend on us, and the needs of the world. Jesus states,. Ask, and it will be given you…For everyone who asks receives…Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?


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Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! But we do have his promise to give us what we need. We should ask for his guidance in practical ways if we are in need. We can ask his guidance in finding a job, applying for benefits, changing jobs, resolving employee-employer disputes, obtaining education and job training.

We should ask for his transforming power in our workplace ethics, creativity and productivity, work habits and other factors needed to keep a job and thrive in the workplace. If we are unemployed or under-employed, our disappointment or shame may lead us to back away from God. But these are the moments to draw closer to God more than ever. If we have wealth, the choices in how to earn, invest and give are often bewilderingly complex.

We are meant to depend on God for provision, meaning that we should look to him to provide for us when our own means seem inadequate. The miracle of Jesus feeding five thousand people is the premier biblical example of God providing when our own means seem inadequate. A large crowd follows Jesus as he goes into a remote area. They become hungry, and there is no place to buy food and no money to buy it with, anyway.

One of the disciples discovers a boy who has a mere five barley loaves and two fish. Jesus receives these meagre supplies, gives thanks, and has them distributed to the whole crowd, as if they were a meal for thousands. Astonishingly, everyone in the crowd is able to take as much as they wanted. And when they do, they fill twelve baskets! John ; see also Matthew , Mark , and Luke God delights in making up what we lack. This is a reminder that none of us are self-sufficient. God is our provider. We are meant to work diligently and wisely to the degree we are able.

Dependence on God is an attitude towards human labor, not a substitute for it. Even if disability, circumstances or injustice make our work fall tragically short of meeting our needs, God begins by making use of what we are able to do. Then he makes up the difference from his inexhaustible riches. In response to news that there were some in the church in Thessalonica who were shirking work, Paul commands,. Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.

Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living 2 Thessalonians No work, no eat. This, of course, presumes that there is work to do. It does not matter whether that work is paid or not.

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If there is useful work we can do, we cannot sit idle and expect God to bless our idleness. Many households depend on paid work done outside the household and unpaid work done within. Even those who need paid work, but who are unemployed or unable to hold down a paid job, can still work in voluntary capacities.

Idleness is not a valid form of dependence on God. Nowhere in Scripture does God promise that his followers will escape the effects of the fallen world. In fact, most of the biblical characters endured periods of time where circumstances, suffering and persecution robbed them of what they needed materially.

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God does not exempt us from the sufferings of the world, but he protects us from being overcome by them. So what does God promise? Provision for our needs, not our wants. Help to endure and overcome whatever deprivations, sufferings and trials we experience. And, most of all, that God will use all situations we find ourselves in—including when we lack provision—to bring good. For himself, for us, and for the world. Advocates of the health-and-wealth gospel often note that in the Old Testament, many of the characters we most revere were wealthy. And there is little doubt that their experience of abundance was tied in some way to their faithfulness to God.

Biblical scholar Craig Blomberg notes that in the Old Testament,. But the unique covenantal arrangements between God and Israel prevent us from generalizing and saying that God must materially reward his faithful people in other nations or eras. Therefore, a strong connection between righteousness and wealth is difficult to make.

The story of the people of Israel confirms this assessment. Many wealthy people in the Bible prosper because of their wickedness, not righteousness. This, even though Ahab was already unbelievably wealthy. The association between righteousness and wealth is even more tenuous in the New Testament. In fact, biblical scholar Gordon Fee argues that wealth is never related to a life of obedience in the gospels and other New Testament books.

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In fact, if anything the opposite is true. For example, following his encounter with the rich young ruler, Jesus comments that it is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than enter the kingdom. Instead, it is a grave peril to our relationship with God. The final hope of Christians is not to be spared the suffering that all people experience in the fallen world.

In the new earth there will be plenty for all. No one will lack provision. Justice will reign.

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Wealth will be experienced by all, without harm to anyone or anything. We will not suffer a lack of provision ourselves. All will be as God always intended it to be. I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind…. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat…They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity…. I will extend prosperity to her [Jerusalem] like a river, and the wealth of nations like an overflowing stream. Isaiah , ; John too foretells the prosperity of the New Jerusalem.

And perhaps most of all, we are not to imagine that we are especially favored by God. If we are poor—or struggling to provide enough for our needs—we are to ask God for guidance and help. Most of all, we should ask God for his grace not to imagine we are less valuable to God or are being punished by him. Being on the guard for worry, we should rejoice in the opportunity our economic situation provides to trust God daily for our needs. We are called to learn contentment and practice generosity beyond what we feel we can afford.

Even when we feel uncertain of our own security, we are called to work for economic justice, though it might seem to threaten our own prospects. Together the practices of thankfulness, contentment, generosity and justice may show us more clearly the difference between what we feel we need and what is truly best for us. Rich, poor or somewhere in-between, we can look forward in confidence to a future where there is no more struggle and none will lack anything. We will live in abundance in the renewed earth. Not only are we to ask God for our daily provision, but we also are warned against stockpiling material wealth and other Every resource on our site was made possible through the financial support of people like you.

God has commisioned us to work and create, to develop the resources he has given us and share with those in need. But what does that look like practically? This topical nine-session Bible study contains tips and encouragement to live a life of generosity and fruitfulness, helping us to redeem our use of resources by nurturing biblical attitudes. Based on a work at www. Introduction God intends for everyone to thrive economically.

Deuteronomy From the beginning, God perfectly provisioned the world for humans to thrive. The Effects of a Fallen World Back to Table of Contents Back to Table of Contents The rebellion of the first humans Genesis 3 had a catastrophic effect on all of creation—not just their relationship with God, but also their capacity to draw provision and create wealth from the land. The land—and therefore its productivity and fruitfulness—is deeply impaired by the breaking of relationship, prompting God to say to Adam: Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

Wealth Gained Through Unjust Means is Harmful Back to Table of Contents Some national leaders attain provision or wealth through unjust means such as exploitation, force, corruption, theft and others. The Concise Oxford Dictionary.

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Riches can cause all kinds of negative side effects: Firstly , wealth can lead to pride and arrogance. Proverbs The dangers of wealth are even more pronounced in the New Testament. Central to the attitude of Jesus is his statement: No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. Matthew The word used here for wealth is mammon. No wonder Jesus commented to his disciples after his encounter with the rich young man: Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew For Jesus then, wealth is a dangerous thing. Perhaps this is what James was addressing when he wrote: You covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. James Sixthly , we can become anxious and full of worry about the future provision of our needs. Matthew This is a very provocative statement of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Colossians that In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. Colossians continues, You who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him. From an Attitude of Ownership to Trusteeship Back to Table of Contents The first humans were directed by God to take care of the Garden and all creatures and plants within it.

Exodus —11 Whoever owns land has a duty to let the poor use it free of charge one year in every seven, and even to let wild animals make use of it. Philippians Both Paul and the far-from-wealthy Philippian church he is writing to were barely surviving economically. From a Lifestyle of Isolationism to Personal Engagement Back to Table of Contents The temptation of those who have much to become isolated from those who have little is very real.

The stranger has not lodged in the street; I have opened my doors to the traveler. Job , Job knew his poor neighbors, treated them as equals, felt a deep compassion for them and cared for them using his political and financial resources. See for example, Exodus ; Deuteronomy ; ; Zechariah ; Jeremiah From a Lifestyle of Compulsive Work to a Rhythm of Work and Rest Back to Table of Contents Learning to trust God for our provision is an ongoing challenge, particularly if we are prone to compulsive work habits.

Paul tells us that During a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. When choosing to give through an agency, two considerations might be: Does this organization empower the people they are seeking to assist?

Do they listen well and work with the recipients to tailor assistance to what is most helpful? Do they pay attention to the cultural context in which they work? Or are they so intent on doing what they think is needed in the way they think is right that they inadvertently make matters worse?

Is the organization transparent and honest regarding how they use their resources and how effective they are? Are they accountable to an independent board of directors and do they submit financial reports to international monitoring organizations? Sadly, it is not uncommon for organisations to lack integrity by exaggerating their claims, being less than open to independent audit or evaluation, prone to wasting resources, or spending unnecessary funds on administration, fundraising, high salaries for executives, etc.

Aiding the Poor Through Investing Back to Table of Contents While giving is a fundamental way of using wealth to aid those caught in poverty, wise investment of wealth can also be very effective in helping the poor. A few examples of such enterprises are: [15] Sarah and John have set up a pottery business and only employ people who have multiple barriers to finding work.

Workers may be homeless or semi-homeless and may have mental health issues, physical disabilities, substance addictions or other struggles. The employment is not full-time, but it does provide a supplement to whatever other means of support workers receive. The pottery is sold through specialty shops and also through the Internet.

Michael runs a business assembling and exporting electronic components. The business is only small employing up to 12 workers at any one time , but the opportunity to train, mentor and develop people who otherwise would struggle to get work, is central to his motivation and decision-making. XYZ organization has established a jute bag making business in the red light district of a major Asian city. Bags are exported all over the world and are known for their durability and quality. The business only employs women who have been caught up in prostitution or are vulnerable to it.

Offering women a way out of the entrapment of selling their bodies in order to feed their families, the jute bag factory provides meaningful alternative employment at a livable wage, plus the benefit of a supportive community.


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  7. Jerry has operated an importing business for some years. He pays himself a livable wage and all profits are given away to a microfinance project in the developing world. Our study will emphasize the trustworthiness of the Gospel as well as the theological insight into the ministry of Jesus it presents. Also, examines the characteristics of God, the person of the Holy Spirit, the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit and the anointing of the Holy Spirit operational in the life of the believer today. Attention is given to the nature, purpose, function, types and growth of poetry and wisdom literature in ancient Israel.

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    The student will learn to manage a team of their peers in the planning, implementation, and assessment of a ministry project. Topics include interpersonal and group communication, media literacy and types of public communication. Detailed attention is paid to listening skills and awareness of the verbal and non-verbal factors that influence interactions.

    Cultural factors impacting communication are also given special attention. The course examines the vital role culture plays in spreading the Gospel with emphasis on the origins and development of people groups from a cross-cultural perspective. Students learn to apply communication skills through hands on experiences in various situations. It deals with the behavior of individual economic units that are small relative to the national economy. The course explains how consumers, workers, investors, owners of land, and business firms make their decisions, and how they interact to form larger units of markets and industries.

    A thorough survey of market failure and government failure also will be covered. It is required for students with a score of 16 or less on the English portion of the ACT or less than on the verbal portion of the SAT. No college credit is given. Students undertake an intensive grammar review and also learn to develop original writings in diverse genres. The course includes a study of the thesis, paragraph, and basic essay structure.

    New areas covered include pronoun language, and the process of research writing. A major composition in the form of a persuasive research paper is required.

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    A general overview of the major authors and works of American literature. The course surveys writings from the Puritan period through the early 20th century. Readings from prose, fiction, theatre, and soliloquy are included. Various genres and time periods will also be explored, giving opportunity for analytical and evaluative essays.

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