First Baptist Church, Pampa, Texas, the church at which I serve as Pastor, has historically refused to use fundraisers as a means of supporting the ministry and mission of the church. That means we don’t allow car washes, bake sales, fundraising product sales to solicit funds from the general public. We trust the Biblical position that the Lord has instructed the people of God to provide for the work of God through the financial gifts that come in through the offering plate. Just like God proves His faithfulness by providing for the needs of a family that practices the tithe, He also proves to be faithful when a church relies upon Biblical methods for giving.
So when the “COVID-19 CARES Act PPP Stimulus” (or whatever label you want to give it) came about, it was never a consideration that the church seek government financial relief. The specific relief sought by churches is the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). What a surprise and disappointment it was to read that not only were a large number of churches seeking these funds, but denominational entities also applied and received funds. I have read figures of these PPP “loans” ranging from a few thousand dollars to almost five million dollars!
The following reasons are why our church will not seek any government financial assistance, grant or loan:
- It compromises the moral authority of the church to speak to the government, “Thus saith the Lord.” I never imagined that in my lifetime we would see Baptists excited about relying upon the government. How long will it be until the left uses this as an argument against housing allowance and tax exempt status, that the church had their hands out to accept PPP funds?
- It compromises the ability to preach with spiritual authority. How can we challenge our people to give generously, trust God to provide, and then come to the government handout office for our own provisions? God still loves a cheerful giver!
- It compromises our community witness. By acquiring public funds, we are increasing the national debt and passing it down to future generations. How can we speak to our lost communities, and our own children/grandchildren, about how they need to trust God to provide, yet we relied upon the government for help? How much more debt is acceptable to leave our future generations?
- It compromises the integrity of the church. Do you realize that many of these churches and denominational offices are taking out a LOAN with zero intention of paying it back. While I would hope that churches will repay these loans, I’m afraid many are banking on them being forgiven, if stipulated qualifications are met. This is different than a loan for a capital project; it is more akin to receiving welfare.
The legislation was important for small businesses in financial crises, and the personal stimulus checks received by families. But friends, the church is THE CHURCH!
Why didn’t denominational entities make their needs known and allow churches to support the work of the Lord? Were church members informed and given the opportunity to meet financial needs before PPP loan applications were submitted?
These matters are cause for great concern for the health and power of the church in our country. I’m afraid my children and grandchildren will pay a much higher price than that of the national debt!
Byron Williamson has been the Senior Pastor at First Pampa since June, 2013. He came to First Pampa following many years as a Pastor and Student Pastor. He is a graduate of Texas A&M and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.