Four Indicators for Determining What Your Church Values– Part 2: Bible Study and Budget

In a previous blog, I discussed the first two indicators involving believers and bystanders. The last two indicators are Bible study and budget.
 

Bible Study  

For our purposes, I’m defining Bible study as an expository approach to observe, interpret, and apply scripture through accurate hermeneutics and exegesis, whether independently or with a group.  For more on this topic, I encourage you to read my series called  Bible Study 101.
 
The degree to which your church emphasizes individual and group Bible study is really at the heart of discipleship.  In this sense, I encourage you to take an honest look at how this looks like in your church. For many church members, the term “Bible study” is often associated with a gathering during the week or weekend, i.e. “Are you going to Bible study this week?”  While it’s not entirely inaccurate to associate Bible study with a group meeting, I think it over-emphasizes the location rather than the action. 
 
Luke provides the perfect characteristics of a Bible-studying church in Acts 17:10-15.   The context involves Paul’s escape to Berea following physical threats from Jewish leaders and some of their followers in Thessalonica who despised the Gospel message he preached and who wanted to jail, if not, attack him.  
 
When comparing church members in Thessalonica to those in Berea, Luke says “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11 NASB). 
 
This verse provides three ideas that will help identify how your church views Bible study:  Are members eager to hear the Word or God or are they indifferent? Do members read and study scriptures daily or is weekly service the only time it occurs?  Do members evaluate and verify the truthfulness of those who teach the Word through their own independent study or do they assume it’s true simply because of their relationship with the preacher or teacher?
 

Budget

Show me your church’s checkbook and I’ll show you what the church values, regardless of what its vision or mission statements might suggest.

 

Instead of providing a detailed breakdown involving categories and percentages of church operating budgets, I’d like to simplify the indicator by asking two questions.  
 
How much (by dollar figure and percentage) does your church allocate for in-reach vs. outreach?  Stated differently, how much is devoted to things occurring inside the church compared to things occurring outside the church?  I believe that a church that’s too inwardly focused is a dying church because it neglects the Great Commission.

 

Another problem with an inwardly focused church is its members’ struggle with financial stewardship. In his blog The Church in Financial Crisis, David Ramsey mentions strategies for helping church members individually get out of debt as well as ways churches can obtain and maintain financial health.  1
 

The second question relating to a church’s budget is:  How frequently do you have churchwide business meetings and solicit, include, and value membership’s involvement when making financial decisions?  This extends behind the role of trustees and stakeholders and gets at the heart of intentional transparency in both word and deed.  Mismanagement can occur when we view money as “ours” rather than God’s. 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 includes a reminder that “God loves a cheerful giver” not worried about ulterior motives or transactional relationships. 

 

I highly suggest reviewing and reflecting on how your church values believers, bystanders, Bible study, and budgets.  These frank discussions will undoubtedly help focus on how we glorify God.

 
Ramsey Solutions. “The Church In Financial Crisis.” Daveramsey.com, Dave Ramsey, 16 Oct. 2019, www.daveramsey.com/blog/the-church-in-financial-crisis/.

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