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What Does the Bible Say About..Using the Church Treasury?

I am a member of the church of Christ in my area. A nearby congregation is preaching against helping out orphan homes, multi-purpose buildings, schools to educate preachers, etc. They say that the contribution should not be used for these things. What does the Bible say about the use of the contribution in the Lord's Church?

Answer

For several years I attended just such a ďconservativeĒ congregation (their term, not mine) in Illinois. Although I have never taken as strong as stand on what can or can not be done from the church treasury as these congregations, I do agree that they make some valid points.

On what do the scriptures say the church may spend money from the treasury? The most commonly used passage on giving, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, simply says that the contribution collected was to be used for the relief of Christians in Judea. We do also know that some churches contributed to Paulís expenses (Philippians 4:15), so it appears that the treasury may be used for preacher salaries. By extension, although not specifically stated, we could say that the money may be used in teaching the lost in other ways.

Most congregations that severely limit what the treasury may be used for will also allow it to be used for teaching within the church, but can not provide examples of that. Generally, they limit it to the three areas of teaching unbelievers, teaching believers, and helping needy Christians. Maintenance and upkeep of the church building somehow falls under teaching believers. Since weddings, funerals, and social gatherings of Christians donít fall under these three areas, the church building should not be used for those things. Since orphanís homes, schools, and multi-purpose buildings may be used by unbelievers the money for them canít come from the church treasury, although individual Christians may contribute to them.

Some congregations that use the money for other uses argue that there are some things that Christians can do as individuals that the church should be allowed to do collectively. Where does it say, for instance that the church should teach unbelievers? That is the responsibility of individuals. And yet even the most conservative churches expect their preachers to teach people outside the church, and pay them to do so. Some will argue that if you can justify a church building that is only used four hours a week (other than the preacherís office), then you could justify supporting a school for preachers as part of an outreach program.

The problem is that if you start justifying things because the scriptures donít specifically forbid using the money for them, you soon can justify anything. Why couldnít a church support a casino or a grocery store? The scriptures specifically allow a church to help Christians in need and to pay preachers. Other than that, any use of the money is for things beyond the specifics allowed. To hold to a strict standard, a church could not build or rent a building, pay utilities, maintain a web site, or buy teaching materials. Most of the time a need came up, someone in the church would have to call individual members to come pay for whatever was needed.