Should the church ask its members to borrow money for its building project?

Question:

Hi Jeff,

Is right to borrow money for the sake of contributing to build a worship hall for the church? We are encourage by our minister, as individual brethren, to do so, since it is an important project of the church.


Answer:

The Bible teaches that being in debt is not a sin, but it is something that is to be avoided.

When you borrow money, you are taking a risk. If you can't make the payments, you are going to lose something significant. "If you have nothing with which to pay, why should he take your bed from under you?" (Proverbs 22:27). It might be one think if an individual decides on his own that the risk is worth it, but it is an entirely different matter when someone is asking you to take on the risks while avoiding all risks himself.

When you borrow money, even when you can make the payments, you are limiting your future options. You can decide to pause a payment so you can fix the roof this month. In a true sense, you become a slave to the person you borrow from. "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave" (Proverbs 22:7).

There is also the simple fact that while I may think I can make the payments, my future is not guaranteed. "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away" (James 4:13-14). What happens if someone loses their job or dies before his debt is paid off?

In reality, the preacher is asking those who can least afford more debt to take on more. "He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty" (Proverbs 22:16).

Set up a building fund. Put a portion of the contributions into it that the church doesn't immediately need for its expenses. If some volunteer to add additional funds in, then wonderful! And when the church has enough to pay its expenses for a new meeting place, then it can happily do so without debt.