Friday, August 1, 2008

100 Years

This POSTING is about DEBT. Debt kills us. Debt KILLS CHURCHES as well…

The following text was passed my way from a few different friends by way of an email… You probably got this one.
This will boggle your mind, I know it did mine!
The year is 1908.
One hundred years ago.
What a difference a century makes!
Here are some statistics for the Year 1908:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
  • The average life expectancy was 47 years.

  • Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.

  • Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

  • There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.

  • The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

  • The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

  • The average wage in 1908 was 22 cents per hour.

  • The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

  • A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,

  • A dentist earned $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

  • More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME...

  • Ninety per cent of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!

  • Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as 'substandard.'

  • Sugar cost four cents a pound.

  • Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

  • Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

  • Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

  • Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As I read the list I reflected on a few realities of today… that are in sharp contrast to 1908…

In 2008 – it is considered nothing to have PERSONAL DEBT that staggers one’s mind. A College Grad will have perhaps $45,000 debt. A University Grad will have close to $75,000. A Bible College Grad will have $65,000. None of them will have yet bought a car, bought a house or yet married a person with the same amount of debt.

In 1908 you didn’t want debt and paid what you owed as soon as you could.

Now in 2008 there is car debt that will not be paid off until the car is long gone. There is debt for furniture that you have ‘bought with no payments for 18 months’. There is debt for homes that will perhaps never be paid for – but the payments are considered to be like a high rent paid each month.

Now this DEBT ISSUE runs over to other areas of our lives as well… and affects us all deeply. In my case, in recent times, it was the loss of a job/ministry at our church.

You see our church is in DEBT – still after 28 years it owes money on the original debt. (If you have followed these postings from up to this one – you will know a bit of the story.)

The church opened in 1980 with $1,350,000 debt. 18 years later – in 1998 – it still had $1,350,000 debt – only interest had been paid on the huge debt. With a huge interest rate of 20% in 1980 when they opened the doors – they paid $1,000,000 interest in the first four years of being open for business… then another $1,000,000 in the next five years… and then another couple of more million in the next years.

Today – 10 years later – we have seen the DEBT of NORTHVIEW reduced to $775,000 – which now requires us to pay $46,000 per year on interest and handling charges. At this rate we will pay a Half Million in 10 years and a Million more in 20 years.

Reducing the Debt load each year by $77,500 would pay the debt off in 10 years. Reducing the debt by $39,000 each year would pay the debt off in 20 years. Last year at Northview PC we could not pay the $46,000 interest – let alone paying the debt down.

So we will likely be paying the Full Million more in interest in 20 years and still have the $775,000 debt load 20 years from now.

Almost all the people that built the church are now gone – or are older and will soon receive their final reward. The new people that come will be expected to pay – if they come…. That was the plan in 1980 – I think…

WHY does this Debt in church not go away?
Well there is a new attitude out there now. Debt doesn’t matter. Everyone has it. So just learn to live with it. Accept it.

There is another new attitude that didn’t exist in 1980 – let alone 1908… today you leave the church… move away from the problems and the debt. If you are tired of hearing about DEBT here – go there. It is kind of like declaring a “spiritual/church attendee bankruptcy”.

In 1908 you stuck with the church through thick and thin. In 1980 it was the same… it was your church. As to attendance you also stuck with it... each week you were there.

2008 is different in relation to church attendance and support. If you don’t like the service – you can leave and go to another “fast food” church place. If they hound you too much about money and you don’t like it – you are out of there. Attendance is better calculated in a two month basis and how many times people attend in that period. Many are now offering support in a similar fashion.

Owing money as a church in 2008 is dangerous – very dangerous. People die, people move on, people sit on the edge and people will not accept the responsibility of someone else’s grandparent’s debt decisions – they now have their own – why would they want to have the church debt as well?

In one of our sister churches in Peterborough it is reported that they have $4,500,000 debt with their bank. At 5% interest of today that is $225,000 interest per year… or $1,000,000 in four years… $2,000,000 in 8 years. Even if they pay off a huge chunk each year there is no way that the interest rate will do anything but eat away at the whole amount.

And this church, like Northview, is struggling with its attendance and support. Northview has had problems with having to use its $50,000 Line of Credit every month…. This other church has also had to use its Line of Credit as well. In fact quite a few churches do.

Guess what – both churches use the CIBC Bank. The CIBC Bank is putting just a little bit of pressure on both churches to “help” them deal with their financial problems.

Now in Peterborough there is another “good alternative” to church attendance – it is a church in a rented facility. They pay one set rental fee and know their exact costs each week. They do not beg for money each week. The church has no debt. And no one talks about your personal debt – it is your debt – they have their own.

Guess where people like to go to church? A church without debt is good. And this new alternative church has people from Northview and from the other church attending there. Hmmm? I wonder why?

Debt is like the flu… you can complain about it… people listen and then tell you stay away… they don’t want what you have. I have my own dose thank you very much.

“Pastor Murray aren’t you worried about what people will say – if you tell this story so plainly? Won’t you get in trouble or something?”

My answer is simple… “Yah… maybe they will let me go … BUT – hey they have already had to do that because of debt…”

Someone’s responsibility – somewhere – is to stand up and warn someone that DEBT KILLS people and churches.


~ Murray Lincoln ~
(A former pastor that was once in Debt and affected by it...)

Another church account came my way last month. The pastor that is leaving this church shared with me his church’s story. When he arrived at the church in 2006 he was very excited about what God could do. In 2007 that excitement was abated. In 2007 he buried 1/3 (33.3%) of the church – they all died! And when they did they took all the money with them – well not really – they just stopped supporting the church. And guess what – many were “good givers”. This summer – 2008 – they cannot pay the pastor. I am not sure if they have DEBT or not – there just is no income – so the pastor had to leave with his small family. Oh BOY! Hang on tight.

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