Some churches are totally against going into debt. They will cite Romans 13:8: “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
On the other hand, in the parable of the talents, the master praises the two servants who had invested his money, while rebuking the unfaithful servant who buried his allotment. “You ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest” (Matthew 25:27).
Sometimes, loans are needed for a church to continue or expand its mission. When our air conditioning system failed, we learned that it would cost $300,000 to replace the broken parts. The decision to secure a loan was easier to make because Baptist Temple had begun to reverse its decline. The building was being used daily and our forecasted income would cover the loan.
The Baptist Church Loan Corporation (BCLC) granted us the loan based on their understanding of the history our church and our prospects for the future. BCLC is a ministry of Texas Baptists with whom we are affiliated. Their ministry focused calculations are different than a bank’s, but they can only loan money when there is a reasonable chance of repayment.
Without this loan that three story building would have been unusable. Too many urban churches fall into disrepair because of deferred maintenance. However, mission must come first. If a church is on mission for the gospel, God will supply the needed resources. In fact, this loan was paid off early thanks to an unexpected financial blessing.
We secured a second loan based on capital campaign pledges. Members and friends of Baptist Temple pledged a certain amount over a three-year period for the replacement of our roof systems and other needed repairs. The loan (again, from BCLC) allowed us to get to work right away; before we experienced any more rain damage. The generosity of our folks was extended for a few more years and we have reached the end of that obligation.
A third loan was secured to replace all of our existing lighting with more energy efficient fixtures. While the matter was less urgent, we needed to act in order to take advantage of a CPS grant. The loan will be paid from the savings on our energy bill.
Loans should not be sought for foolish reasons but, if it is clear that the church’s mission can be expanded or sustained, then a loan is a sound ministry strategy.