Banking on the Church

For as long as anybody could remember, choir practice at Living Word African Church always began at eight o’clock on Saturday evening. Saturday night at eight, you could bank on it.

Not everyone in the village attended Living Word African Church, but they all felt like they did. You see, cracks in the walls of the choir loft allowed the songs of Zion to leak out each Saturday evening, making everyone in the village feel as though they were attending a worship service.

Everything in the village changed one Friday as the country’s raging civil war swept through the village. In a matter of hours, all of the buildings were leveled, many of the residents were injured or killed, and most of the homes were destroyed. The building of Living Word African Church was reduced to rubble.

Then as the guns finally faded off into the distance, the creation itself seemed to groan as torrential rains started to pummel the village. With their homes destroyed, the villagers could do nothing but hunker down and wait for the rains to stop.

The rains beat down all weekend. But at eight o’clock on Saturday evening, without announcement, the choir of the Living Word African Church gathered in the ruins of the choir loft, stood in the downpour, and held practice as usual. There were no more cracks in the walls; indeed, there were no walls at all. As a result, the songs of Zion could be heard louder and clearer in the village than ever before. There in the carnage, in the rubble, and in the rain, the Church of Jesus Christ was open for business as usual. As always, you could bank on it.

Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18b

The Chalmers Center attempts to work with churches that minister in low-income communities all around the world. Frequently, people question this approach: “Churches are dysfunctional, bureaucratic, and inept. They are generally disinterested in the poor. Why do you bother with churches? Why don’t you invest your time and resources more wisely?”

I am not a financial analyst, but I would jump at the opportunity to invest in a stock that was guaranteed to pay a huge dividend forever. Amazingly, the Bible teaches that the church is just such an investment opportunity. Nothing can threaten it from paying ever-increasing dividends:  Not a civil war, not torrential rains, not even hell itself. Nothing, and you can take that to the bank.

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Brian Fikkert

Brian Fikkert

Dr. Brian Fikkert is a Professor of Economics and Community Development and the Founder and President of the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College. He is coauthor of the best-selling book When Helping Hurts as well as Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions, Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence, and From Dependence to Dignity: How to Alleviate Poverty Through Church-Centered Microfinance.

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