Saturday, March 7, 2015

What Kinds Of Endowments Would Jesus Approve?

Most of my church's educational and mission agencies have millions of dollars invested in endowments designed to provide for financial stability and help ensure the institution's survival.

My response is sometimes one of amazement that followers of Jesus would accumulate the kind of wealth that makes this level of estate and other giving possible. Are endowments consistent with how Jesus would have us fund organizations enlisting disciples who are to "obey all I have commanded"?

For example, if followers of Jesus are instructed not to "lay up treasure on earth", how much should churches and church institutions do so?

I know our Lord didn't anticipate a 21st century economic system based on amassing large amounts of capital in order to grow more wealth, but would his position be one of approval of large endowments or would he, like Ghandi, see "wealth without work" as something to be avoided? In a world of desperate need, would he be holding on to millions of dollars in mutual funds invested in Wall Street traded stocks?

Of course, endowment funds could be used to provide low interest loans to deserving entrepreneurs who could invest it in ways that could help alleviate poverty and accomplish much good. But that would defeat their primary purpose, which is to earn as much income as possible for the cause for which they were established.

I'm not an economist, so I may not know whereof I speak, so I would be interested in others' views on this subject.
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