My archive is a treasure trove – I found a Sydney Morning Herald article "The five biggest money mistakes" 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!
Photo - Canvas art – Tronson du Coudray
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.
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 25 books, and enjoys writing. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded ‘The Gutenberg’ - the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. He and David Chang editor of Christian Today together bought the young writer ministry into fruition in 2009. In 2011 Mark established Laguna Quays Respite (Whitsundays) for missionary respite and replicated at Aldinga Beach 2016 (Adelaide) and Greens Beach Bass Straight (TAS). His ministry is honoured all these years by Christian philanthropist Mr Basil Sellers AM. He is married to Delma (44 years), with four adult married children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/dr-mark-t.html