"The five biggest money mistakes" I found in my archive from a Sydney Morning Herald article. With Easter upon us, l realised this could so easily be converted into an article for church growth and church facilities construction as to how best to handle such debt and investments.
The article was highlighted by a first sentence which read: "One wrong decision can put your financial future at severe disadvantage" and so too a church building debt decision.
The five money mistakes are (1) not understanding transaction costs, (2) savings and mortgage issues, (3) insurance, (4) off-the-cuff comments and finally, (5) frightened by a little 'immediate' pain.
In my view the fourth point has a home truth that is so very applicable Christian truth especially with Easter week upon us.
The fourth point: "Succumbing to barbecue risk. That hot tip confided while someone flips sausages. It probably poses the greatest single danger to your prosperity. You never know how accurate the information is and even what's motivating it."
Why it's so dangerous
I am unaware of whether Nicole Pederson-McKinnon who wrote that article has had any personal experience in this matter, I would be surprised if she had not, for everyone talks over the BBQ, at the coffee shop, with acquaintances and friends over a work desk, at Mother's Club, at the sporting event, after church, wherever.
Sadly, as Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon has noted so eloquently, this is where the latest hot-tip is given on any number of issues, let alone major financial ones that could very easily send someone 'down the chute' alarmingly quickly.
This is the place where people are off guard, relaxed, with people who are known and quiet often trusted, and out pops this latest hot-tip and one's usual careful circumstance of considerations are somehow put aside and thus begins a troubling journey that leads no-where good!
Translating this to the Christian religion
Sadly, this is precisely what occurs regarding the Christian religion, that those most ill-informed and moreover without any true understanding of theology and a puerile grasp of Bible knowledge becomes the "great authority".
I've been a witness to this time and again. The soft conversational tones around the BBQ (or anywhere social) within a friendly and non-threatening environment creates situations whereby the misguided
a) sprouts forth "golden mouth ideas" and
b) "simplified philosophies for life"
These are damaging and very difficult to redress. Moreover, one does not know the motivation of such comments as they might be 'speak that passes time' or 'a world view that is diligently opposed to Christianity'.
It becomes the classic diversionary tactic to create distance from the truth of Easter – the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that Jesus died on Calvary for the sin of the world.
A Way Forward
In such circumstances, the last thing one needs is a theological dispute in such friendly surroundings, where quoting Bible verses becomes counter-productive.
It seems to me that functioning on the same level in language, tone, friendly manner is crucial, and moreover a personal-testimony of answered prayer is a great way to turn the conversation to real life.
Paul's instruction to Timothy that he might be prepared to give a defence of the Gospel is incumbent upon every Christian, but Paul did not specify as to how that might be done, as every situation and conversation is different.
One way forward is offering encouragement to consider following Jesus Christ and in such a friendly and engaging manner that the 'conversation' becomes your champion vehicle.
This Easter, over a barbecue or some other situation with friends, try it out!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html