Economic prosperity is an increasingly prevalent theme in the ministries of Black churches, with pastors promoting personal wealth as a fulfillment of biblical doctrine. One grows closer to God by adhering to the laws governing prosperity as laid down in the Bible, the argument goes.
To that end, the Abundant Life Family Worship Church in New Brunswick, N.J., created a ministry to place members of its congregation on a journey to financial success that is consistent with God’s laws. The ministry is the brainchild of Bishop George Searight, who, with his wife, Mary, founded the church in 1991 as a vehicle for spiritually inspiring and revitalizing their community. Active in this ministry is Jeffrey A. Robinson, Ph.D., noted business scholar, third-generation entrepreneur and advocate for community economic development. Robinson has dedicated most of his writing and research to community and economic development issues for urban metropolitan areas in the United States and overseas. He argues that the church should play a pivotal role in economic development, and is currently writing a book titled, Becoming God’s Entrepreneur: The Seven Spiritual Laws for Launch-ing Your Venture.
Abundant Life’s Scriptures on Wealth Ministry has been in existence for three years. Led by Elder Diane Tucker, it comprises a series of workshops based on specific scriptures to guide congregants in becoming better stewards of their finances. “Financial obligations are found throughout the entire Bible. God commands us to be good stewards of our money, time, ministry and family,” Tucker says. “Finances are not outside of the realm of God. It is our duty as Christians to know the law of God concerning every area of our life.”
The workshop series begins with “Budgeting: Setting Financial Goals,” presented by Tyretta Meadows, a financial specialist, followed by “Crisis Budgeting: Steps to Repairing Your Credit,” presented by Walt Charles and Egypt Charles. A workshop scheduled for October will cover “Mortgages and Real Estate” and another in November will address “Retirement Planning and Investments.” Participants are encouraged to begin building wealth by taking a snapshot of their current financial situation and identifying their short- and long-term goals over a three- to five-year period.
“With scriptures and a general understanding of how to pay bills on time to avoid fees and penalties, the journey has begun,” Tucker says. The three- to five-year time frame is prescribed because it may take that long to become debt-free, she explains. “We tell [participants], ‘Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. You can afford to plan to do better,’ ” she says.
The goal in 2007 is to offer workshops at least every other month, instead of quarterly, as has been the case to date, Tucker says.
For more information on The Abundant Life Family Worship Church and its various ministries, visit www.alfwconline.com , or tune into a live Web broadcast at alfwc.org/live, Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Budgeting Scriptures and Principles
Below are the biblical passages used and the principles taught in the Abundant Life Family Worship Church’s “Budgeting” and “Crises Budgeting” workshops:
Stewardship. “The Lord owns all our possessions.”—Deut. 10:14 “We are required to be good stewards”—I Cor. 4:2; Parable of the Talents—Matt. 25:14-30; “Be content whatever the circumstances.”—Phil. 4:11-13; “Pay all of your debts.”—Rom. 13:8.
Workshop presenters note that the Bible does not support using bankruptcy laws for protection from creditors. If you took on the debt, you have an obligation to pay it, they contend.
Giving to Charity: 10 Percent of Income. “There is one who scatters, yet increases all.”—Prov. 11:24-25.
When giving is a priority, then all financial decisions should be made in accordance with that priority.
Expenses: 80 Percent. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”—Prov. 22:7.
Minimize expenses in order to afford the obligations of the other 20 percent. Spend less than you make to become debt-free.
Savings: 10 Percent. “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.”—Prov. 21:20.
Providing for tomorrow requires discipline today. Make short-term sacrifices for long-term goals.
What Is a Budget? “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness.”—Prov. 21:5.
A budget is a workable personal plan that helps you spend your income. It is a vital tool for achieving financial stewardship, for reducing expenses and establishing financial discipline in order to give and to save.