Biblical Stewardship Principles for Churches by Jeffery Smith

            Back in 2012 the leadership of our church gave more direct and careful consideration to clarifying and  more firmly establishing our financial policies. Below is a part of the financial policy document that resulted. This is the section in which we lay out what we understand to be the biblical principles that should guide us as a church in formulating our practices. I provide it in this post for your consideration.

  1. Heads of households should seek to be engaged in profitable employment with a view to providing for their own families, being able to give for the cause of the gospel and for the genuine needs of others. (1 Thess. 4:11-12; 2 Thess.3:10-12, Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 5:8)
  2. Though secondary to the support of the proclamation of the gospel at home and abroad, Christians and churches should also seek to help those who are in genuine physical or material need as they have means and opportunity. Attention is to be given especially, though not exclusively, to those who are of the household of faith (Deut, 15:7ff; see Psalms, Proverbs, O.T. Prophets; Mt. 5:42;25:31-46; Rom. 12:13; Gal. 6:10; Heb. 13:16)
  3. As an expression of worship, Christians should support financially the work of the Lord by systematic and proportionate giving through the local church. (Mal. 3:8-10, 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8-9; Pp. 4:18; Heb.13:15-16). The principle of the tithe provides a biblical norm for basic giving, to which should be added gifts and offerings according to one’s ability and the willingness of the heart (Ex. 36:2-7; 2 Cor. 8:1-5).
  4. Christians and churches should seek to practice generosity and simplicity in their use of the material and financial means with which God blesses them, trusting in God’s care for us and realizing that God blesses us, not in order that we might be cul-de-sacs of his grace but conduits of his grace (Lk. 12:22-33; 2 Cor. 8:1-3). The scriptures do not assign an arbitrary standard of living to be applied to every Christian but allow for diversity within the body and in the world in accordance with the dictates of providence, station in life, and the rewards of diligence (1 Sam. 2:7; James 2:5; Rom. 12: 3-8; Mt. 26:11;  Prov. 12:24; Prov. 22:29; Prov. 10:4; Prov. 21:5; 1 Tim. 6:8-9; 17-19). However, every Christian, whether rich or poor or in between, is to recognize that God is the ultimate owner of all that we possess and our means are be used with a concern for His glory. If God should choose to bless any of us with material abundance we must, in the language of 1 Tim. 5:17, “not be haughty, nor trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. We must seek to do good, to be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for ourselves a good foundation for the time to come, that we may lay hold on eternal life.”
  5. Christians and churches should avoid making debts that are beyond their comfortable ability to pay (Prov. 6:2-5; 22:26-27).
  6. Christians and churches should keep careful track of their resources (Prov. 27:3).
  7. Christians and churches should take good care of what God has provided them (Prov. 24:30-34).
  8. It can be a good thing for the church, if able, to anticipate and put aside for future projects that are prayerfully deemed in the best interest of God-honoring goals and for needs that, within reason, are deemed certain to come, probable or very possible (Gen. 41:34-36; Prov. 6:6-8; Prov. 22:3; Prov. 24:27). Concern is to be given not to allow this principle to be abused in the interest of an excessive hoarding of God’s money (Prov.11:24; Lk. 12:16-21).
  9. Churches ought to conduct their financial affairs with accountability and a concern to protect against potential improprieties (2 Cor. 8:18-21).
  10. As we seek to apply these principles wisely, we must make the provision of our needs and the use of our finances a matter of regular and believing prayer (Mt. 6: 11; James 1:5).

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