2 Kings 12:1-16 (Part 3) – Not the Finance Guy Anymore, But The Responsibility Remains

Posted: July 23, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 12:1-16 (Part 3 of 3)

Joash Repairs the Temple

As many of you who have followed my blog for any length of time already know, I spent a large part of my working life in corporate finance and corporate internal auditing. Since 2011, I have been working often bi-vocationally at church. When we were last living in South Carolina, I was responsible for establishing the financial systems of the church we attended at that time. I was responsible for preparing and issuing the monthly financial statements, dealing with the banks and so on. Deeply, deeply involved with the financial operations of that church. It was not until the beginning of 2018 when we moved to Illinois that I began working full-time in ministry. Even then, I was an associate pastor for business affairs. So even my first full-time ministerial position, I was responsible for the financial and administrative side of the church’s operations. So, for all my life I have been either been the financial guy or the guy checking on the financial guy. For the last decade before I went into full-time ministry, my last secular job was that of being the chief financial guy for my division of the company I worked for. Closing the books every month for 10 years there, closing the books for 7 years at the church we attended while working at that company, then another year and a half of closing the books each month at my first full-time ministry position while we were at our church in Illinois. To say that I have a heightened sense of financial understanding compared to most pastors would be an accurate statement.

However, in my new position, here at Lamar United Methodist Church, as the one and only pastor at the church, I am no longer responsible for the financial operations of my church. I am no longer “the keeper of the books!” In some ways I am relieved. After over 30 years in the corporate finance world and almost a decade of managing church finances, I was ready for a change where I was not the “numbers guy”. It has been nice for the last couple of months NOT having to deal with month-end closings and such. Yes, I will still have board meetings (at United Methodist Church local churches that board is called the Administrative Council) to attend and will have to be up to snuff on how the church’s money has been spent. I will have to understand how the spending relates to the accomplishment of ministry goals. But for once in my professional career, I am not the one who posts transactions, compiles financial statements, reconciles bank accounts and so on. Even though I am not responsible for the details of the financial operations of my church, it is me that sets the tone for the financial transparency of our church. Since I am the pastor of this church, I must be the one who sets the tone for the church in so many areas and this is one of them – the church’s finances.

That’s the idea that came to mind as I read through this passage for a last time before I move on to the next passage. It is that idea that as leaders of the church, we must always strive to be wise with the funds with which we are entrusted and yet achieve ministry goals at the same time. Let’s read 2 Kings 12:1-16 once more now with that idea in mind:

Chapter 12

1 [a]Joash[b] began to rule over Judah in the seventh year of King Jehu’s reign in Israel. He reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother was Zibiah from Beersheba. 2 All his life Joash did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight because Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 Yet even so, he did not destroy the pagan shrines, and the people still offered sacrifices and burned incense there.

4 One day King Joash said to the priests, “Collect all the money brought as a sacred offering to the Lord’s Temple, whether it is a regular assessment, a payment of vows, or a voluntary gift. 5 Let the priests take some of that money to pay for whatever repairs are needed at the Temple.”

6 But by the twenty-third year of Joash’s reign, the priests still had not repaired the Temple. 7 So King Joash called for Jehoiada and the other priests and asked them, “Why haven’t you repaired the Temple? Don’t use any more money for your own needs. From now on, it must all be spent on Temple repairs.” 8 So the priests agreed not to accept any more money from the people, and they also agreed to let others take responsibility for repairing the Temple.

9 Then Jehoiada the priest bored a hole in the lid of a large chest and set it on the right-hand side of the altar at the entrance of the Temple of the Lord. The priests guarding the entrance put all of the people’s contributions into the chest. 10 Whenever the chest became full, the court secretary and the high priest counted the money that had been brought to the Lord’s Temple and put it into bags. 11 Then they gave the money to the construction supervisors, who used it to pay the people working on the Lord’s Temple—the carpenters, the builders, 12 the masons, and the stonecutters. They also used the money to buy the timber and the finished stone needed for repairing the Lord’s Temple, and they paid any other expenses related to the Temple’s restoration.

13 The money brought to the Temple was not used for making silver bowls, lamp snuffers, basins, trumpets, or other articles of gold or silver for the Temple of the Lord. 14 It was paid to the workmen, who used it for the Temple repairs. 15 No accounting of this money was required from the construction supervisors, because they were honest and trustworthy men. 16 However, the money that was contributed for guilt offerings and sin offerings was not brought into the Lord’s Temple. It was given to the priests for their own use.

In this passage, for today’s blog, we see that there is quite a contrast between the construction supervisors, who needed no accounting for their use of the funds that had been raised, and the priests, who could not be trusted to handle their funds well enough to set some aside for the Temple (see 2 Kings 12:7-8). As trained men of God, the Levites should have been responsible and concerned. After all, the Temple was their life’s work. This passage is a reminder that as leaders of the church we are entrusted with managing the funds given to the glory of the Lord by the members of our church. We must always be wise in our use of these funds, be transparent with everyone about how we have used these funds, and always seek to maximize the amount of real ministry done with each dollar given.

We must always be wise with the funds with which we are entrusted. We must not spend money without a good reason for doing so. However, we should not automatically come at an issue of spending money with the idea that the answer is going to be no. We should be willing to listen to every idea for how to spend our church’s money and not just automatically shut it down because we want to build up our bank balances. At the same time, we must measure our spending by whether it meets a ministry goal or not. If it is out of line with the specific mission that God has given this local expression of his universal church, then, it may not be wise to spend it. Just as businesses have specific products or specific services, so too does God give each church its own specific niche, its own specific mission. The pastor must understand the gifts and talents of his local church and focus its energies in those directions where the church is empassioned and where it is talented. The ministry goals of a church should reflect the collective God-given giftedness and talents of its collective people. A saying that I have often used in other contexts about churches that we have been at is that God brought us here at this time, at this place, with these people, to accomplish His goals for this time, this place, and through these people. Thus, we should focus our energies and finances toward those ministry goals that God has given us the talents and the passions to achieve.

We should always be transparent about the funds that we receive and spend. That is why it is important for churches to have more than just a checkbook. We should have a financial accounting system in place such that financial statements can be generated on demand at any time. In that way, we can provide any member or any other interested party such as banks or other third parties a full accounting of the church’s income by source and expenses by category. There should be no shroud of secrecy concerning a church’s finances. We should always be open and willing to share the financial position of the church with anyone with whom we come in contact. In that manner, there is trust built with our people and with our community as to where the money goes and for what purposes.

Finally, as much as we can we must maximize as much as possible the amount of ministry done with each dollar given. Sure there are some realities of church life. You have an employee or multiple employees that take care of the day to day operations and guide the ministries of the church. That is just a fact of church life. Another fact of church life is that you have to have a location to house those employees and a place to hold worship services and other activities and events of the church. That’s a given. And we must budget for and spend money on those things. However, we must never get ahead of ourselves in this regard. We must not add to staff until it is absolutely necessary. We must not add fixed costs such as buildings and their mortgages and maintenance until there is no other way to do ministry. We must spend as much of each dollar as we can on the ministries of the church – particularly those that achieve the two main goals of a church. Those are (1) to deepen relationships with Jesus Christ for those are already part of the church’s body and (2) to draw people unto the church such that they can encounter the gospel message and then for them to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. These two things, discipleship and evangelism, should be the primary ideas behind every dollar spent at church regardless of the name of the ministry underneath the church’s umbrella.

May we be that kind of the church. May I be that kind of pastor that focuses our church on these things. May we together make an impact in our community for the kingdom of God.

Amen and Amen.

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