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God requires stewardship, money expert tells leaders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Stewardship — the careful and responsible management of resources entrusted to people — is a requirement of God, not an option, money management expert Larry Burkett told state Baptist convention stewardship directors Sept. 21.
Burkett, founder of Christian Financial Concepts, Gainesville, Ga., told state leaders meeting at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn., stewardship “is not complicated. It’s just that common-sense stewardship isn’t being taught in America.”
Burkett, whose daily radio broadcasts, “Money Matters” and “How to Manage Your Money,” are carried on more than 1,100 outlets worldwide, maintains Southern Baptists “have been duped into not dealing with this, in part because some people feel it is wrong to talk about money [in church]. In some cases, pastors aren’t practicing it themselves.”
A believer in using the Bible as a guide to money management, Burkett said an initial search of Scripture for references to money led him to more than 700 entries that deal with subjects such as borrowing, lending and saving money.
Evangelical Christians average giving 2.4 percent of their income to all the religious causes to which they contribute, Burkett said. In contrast, they average paying 11.5 percent interest to repayment on personal debt.
“They don’t have a material problem,” he said. “They have a spiritual problem related to finances. What we see financially is a spiritual indication of what is inside the heart.
“You won’t change those attitudes with financial programs,” he continued. “You change attitudes by changing their hearts. You can’t tell them they need more money; you need to train them to be good stewards.”
Burkett said he believes God’s plan is extremely simple. For example, he said scriptural guidelines for borrowing money include only three principles: Borrowing should be short-term; it should be uncommon; and one should not take on an obligation without a sure way to repay it.
“We, as a denomination, are the best,” said Burkett, a Southern Baptist layman. “We do significant work in missions and evangelism. If we have one fault, it is that we haven’t done enough [education] on money. It isn’t a matter of talking people into doing the right thing. If you can talk them into something, someone else can talk them out of it.
“You need to inundate people with Scripture related to money until no one can come along behind you and undo that,” he said.
Urging state leaders to lead the way in “freeing God’s people,” Burkett told them, “You cannot be financially bound and spiritually free. Christians have financial bondage of debt, greed or even having too much money.
“In no way does the Bible say Christians should not have a surplus,” he continued, “but in the SBC we probably have $3 trillion among members. Money is being hoarded by people who have no useful purpose for it. No one has ever challenged them on, ‘How much is enough?'”
Others have drifted away from God “and are buying things they cannot afford. They don’t see how they could give to God,” he added.
Burkett said Southern Baptists need to teach people scripturally about money “and help them, including how to make out and live within a budget.”
The annual state stewardship directors planning meeting was hosted by LifeWay’s church stewardship services.

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  • Charles Willis