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Who Do Your Financial Decisions Reflect On?

Tonight we had friends over for dinner and one of the things we ended up discussing was the possibility of expanding or renovating the church we’re attending. It’s not overflowing yet, but it’s growing. And it also needs to become more wheelchair friendly, at least. It was built in an era where people didn’t think enough about such things. They’ve made some makeshift changes at least.

But if anything’s done, it’ll probably be small stuff. Church renovation takes a large budget. So they’re going to focus on accessibility for now.

This got me thinking about the church I attended in college. In my last two years there, they added a large wing with a new sanctuary. It made sense, since they were actually overflowing. And they had plenty of land.

But I was friends with one of the chairs of the building budget committee and he shared the darker side with me. While the church had raised enough money for the original plans, it cost (of course) more than they expected in the end. So they were had to find the extra funds.

The good news is that, last I heard, the congregation had come up with more money and the builders were willing (if they had to) to accept the rest in another year. Better than not getting their money.

My friend was very concerned about this whole situation. He said “What kind of reflection is it on our faith if we don’t pay everything we owe?”

Moreover, another much larger church nearby was having the same problem on a grander scale. He consoled himself that at least we had 80% of what we owed right up front whereas they were at more like 60%. But since it reflected on our shared faith, it saddened him. He just didn’t have responsibility for their actions.

What if people lost their jobs because their companies took a hit? What if people couldn’t be paid and didn’t have enough for their mortgages? (especially since some of these were father-son businesses and didn’t have large reserves.)

Do you sometimes worry that your financial actions reflect poorly on your religion, gender, family, values, etc?

Some similar articles I saw just today were:

Mombian asks what you represent and mentions the pressure that LGBTQ families feel to turn out “normal” or even exceptional kids. They may worry people will attribute any flaws in their children’s behavior to their sexuality. Whereas hetero families don’t feel they carry the weight of heterosexuality on their shoulders if their kid isn’t smart or well-adjusted (though they carry other burdens, as do any parents).

Patrick of Cash Money Life spoke of the choice between easy and right. There, the decision may rest entirely on you and not what you represent. But your own conscience is a powerful force. At least it’s a force for good.

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Patrick February 20, 2008 at 6:42 am

I can see how this situation would put the church in a dilemma. I’m happy to hear that it ended well. Thank you for the mention.

Ron@TheWisdomJournal February 20, 2008 at 8:20 am

In a world drenched in credit, I think it’s a positive statement that a church meets its obligations, even if those are debt obligations to a bank.

Future Millionaire February 20, 2008 at 8:48 am

As someone who works in the construction industry (granted for a very large firm) not being paid has a huge effect because it all trickles down to the mom and pop / father and son businesses. For example when our company is delayed payment per the accountant rules and state laws we can not pay our subcontractors and many of these depend on their checks to pay their mortgages, put food on the table etc. It really upsets me because I see the struggles of some of these small subcontractors just to make ends meet in an already tight market. I read a while back that the top two industries with the highest bankruptcies of companies is the Restaurant Industry and the Construction Industry.

No disrespect to your friend or his church since I don’t know any of the details but I’m a little short I’m surprised they didn’t go to the bank for a loan. When my church built an addition on top of raising funds we took out a construction loan and then continued to raise funds to pay off the loan now that its built.

RacerX February 20, 2008 at 11:37 am

That voice should be heard during planning. I have never heard of a church not being 100% financed before starting, but I could see it happening.

The contractor has to approach each job as a job whether it is for a church or a Grocery Store. They must do due dilligence to ensure that they get paid.

ms. m&p February 20, 2008 at 1:18 pm

I’m glad your friend thought about how it reflected on the church to not have all the money available. I think many people wouldn’t even think about that aspect of the problem.

In a semi-related note, I grew up going to church my whole life and often went to dinner after Sunday morning church. When I started waiting tables in college, I was shocked at how badly churchgoers treated the wait staff and how poorly they tipped. It was really disheartening. No server wants to work on Sunday morning because churchgoers are so notoriously awful. It opened my eyes to how hypocritical it came off and I started tipping overly generously on Sundays ever since.

Jesse February 20, 2008 at 1:30 pm

I have to be honest, one thing that drove me away from the church I went to growing up was that around the time I turned 19 they started asking for money all the time to expand. Sure they were overflowing a bit, but the constant demanding of money….grates on you.

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