Some Short Studies

Budgets and Treasuries

Gene Peacock

We hear constantly about "church" budgets and "church" treasuries as though the "church" was supposed to be the repository of "treasure." "Lay not up for yourselves treasure on earth...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven..." Budgeting is recommended for anyone, but is the "church" supposed to budget? Nearly all the passages quoted as justification for individual Christians to donate to a corporate fund are misapplications and misunderstandings perpetuated by those who wish to acquire power by administering such funds; in truth, our modern "elders" consider the administering of such funds the main purpose of their "office." But there is no reason in the Scriptures to assume that the funds "laid by in store" by "each one" are for a corporate "treasury" or "budget;" actually, "each one of you" implies a personal "treasury" or "budget." And to use this passage as a justification for all that is encompassed by corporate "treasury" or "budget" is ludicrous. The purpose in this passage was specific (the relief of the poor saints in Jerusalem) and the "treasuries" and "budgets" were individual; "that there be no gathering when I come" would indicate that Paul would be by to pick up what was being given by individuals for the saints in Jerusalem. Unless those who use this passage for justification of corporate "treasuries" and "budgets" are prepared to hold these contributions until Paul comes by to pick them up and are willing to use them to help the poor saints in Jerusalem, I see no justification even for the corporate pooling of the resources of individual Christians for a specific purpose. As an example, it simply tells the individual Christian that he should be prepared to donate some of his resources to aid other Christians when the need is specific, and that it should be planned and systematic when that is possible. There is nothing of "church budget or treasury" in this passage. Also administering was to be done at the destination, not at the source. The apostles adminstered it in Jerusalem, as long as it did not interfere, as in Acts 6, with more important concerns, spiritual concerns; when it did interfere, certain ones were selected by the congregation to administer these gifts, to liberate the apostles for more important duties. "Elders," please take note!

The funds mentioned as "being laid at the apostles feet" in an earlier passage in Acts, were a spontaneous and voluntary outpouring, and for the same purpose as in the passage quoted above, for a specific need, relief of the poor saints in Jerusalem. Since the apostles were leading the early assembly there, they were looked to as administrators of these funds, which required someone to make decisions about disposition. Their use by the congregation should not be construed to authorize elders to generate general budgets, or to hold onto general funds as a treasury or to make plans and budgets separate from the plans or desires of the individual who makes the donation. Budgeting by the elders only is not a Scriptural concept.