The issue of time and money at its heart an issue of faith in God’s provision. My experience in churches has been that we underestimate the role time and money play in assessing our limitations, so we often place our faith in the wrong thing in the process of determining a path forward.
We know God can provide, so we assume that if he hasn’t provided (usually money) that it’s not his will. However, we come to that conclusion too quickly because our perspective on time and money are shaped the culture around us, and not by how God has revealed his character in his Word.
If we conclude what the problem is before examining our assumptions about time and money, we look for God to answer the problem as we see it. This is a scarcity mindset.
But if our attitudes about time and money are revealed, then our eyes can be open to seeing what he has already provided in places we would have previously overlooked. This is an abundance mindset.
There are good theological reasons for this. Our relationship to time is the dividing line between us and God that we feel the most often. God is outside of time, as it is part of his creation. We cannot even think about choices or consequences without taking time into account.
We are largely unaware of how time functions in how we perceive everything and so naturally assume God “thinks” like we do. We therefore conclude we know his mind in a situation.
Money is the clearest way we place value on things. The act of valuing something reveals a great deal about how we see it, but also how we value things in relationship to it. We do this on a daily basis, and so are very comfortable with our ability to discern that value. In our consumer-driven society, we are taught to look for an alternative rather than challenge something is valued.
So, once time and money have been factored into the problem, we are grappling with trusting God’s provision in a new way. Time and money are related, but time is the resource that is truly in limited supply, both in what we can do in any 24 hour day, or in how long we have before something else (like death) intervenes.
The one issue facing every church is discerning and stewarding the resources God has provided. I find attitudes about time and money to be very revealing of an individual’s or an organization’s heart toward God’s promise to provide.
Our confidence in the gospel is revealed by whether we see time and money as limiting factors (from God’s perspective they are not), or as parameters within which we can clearly discern his leading. In light of the gospel, do we have a scarcity or abundance mindset (Eph 3:16)?
God has promised in Christ to provide for his church and the mission he has given it to accomplish. If we orient ourselves to follow his provision, we will find his purpose for what he has provide for us to do.
My basic conviction is that God has provided what the church needs, but we haven’t identified and allocated those resources effectively. To do so means being willing to reassess what our churches intend to accomplish, which is a scary thing to consider.
The tools I have developed can help get perspective on these questions.