By Chuck Bentley, CEO, Crown Financial Ministries —
Thousands of pastors and ministry leaders around the United States are currently learning about the government’s new Payroll Protection Program for churches, ministries, and the not-for-profit sector.
As a ministry leader, we are faced with a similar decision as many of you.
We qualify for approximately a $250,000 loan/grant. That is very significant to us and is worthy of a measured decision. Many of you are faced with a similar decision; for some, the stakes may be much, much higher.
There are pros/cons as well as Biblical examples supporting each position.
This loan/grant would be a hedge against our downside risk for losses in FY21.
It would help protect our cash and our staff through the storm. Nobody really knows how bad this may get. I hear both extremes about the economy and land somewhere in the middle. I am not panicked.
We can pay it back in full if we actually use it or do not use it.
So far, we have chosen to never borrow money. We teach others to avoid it or only do so for short-term needs.
I would not be able to communicate to our donors/partners that we are fully trusting God for His provision – unless we deem this His provision.
We would be taking taxpayer money from other groups that may need it more. Many taxpayers will hate the idea of supporting God’s work.
I like what Alan Mullaly did for Ford Motor Company in the 2008-2009 Great Financial Crisis. By making the courageous decision to turn down the bailout offer for the automotive manufacturers, he increased goodwill and brand value with their consumer base (see American Icon by Bryce G. Hoffman).
Our bottom line is that we think we should not accept any taxpayer funds for our ministry, and that we should trust the Lord to provide. At the same time, I don’t think it is sinful for others to accept these funds if it is paid back in full.
A Few Yellow Flags to Consider
Martin Luther King, Jr said “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.” Will we surrender that high calling?
There will be a time when the winds shift unfavorably towards the Christ-exalting ministries who have an outstanding debt from this program or even those who received the funds in the form of a grant. There is a possibility that it will even be used to threaten our tax-exempt charitable status in the future.
Pause. Pray. Seek counsel. Don’t join what one pastor describes as the “gold rush” because it seems so urgent right now. You will be glad you were very careful before getting entangled with Caesar.
Crown Financial Ministries is the world’s largest Christian financial ministry and for 40 years has shared God’s principles of stewardship and life. Founded by Larry Burkett and led by CEO Chuck Bentley, Crown works through online resources, financial mentors and career consultants to help individuals, small groups, organizations, businesses and churches learn and apply biblically based help for finances, careers and relationships.