MINDSET OVER MATTERS: CHRISTIANS AND CONSUMER DEBT 101
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It is without a doubt that living in America comes with great privileges and access to capital when needed has become one of the main ways to become elevated into middle class society. In the twentieth century access to credit for individuals with menial resources became wide spread. I can remember when my mother purchased her first car on credit the car was called a Maverick made by Ford Motor Company. She was a driver for the local transit authority but she didn’t get the credit from Ford. The church that we belonged to lent her the money with a reasonable rate of interest. African American church’s with credit unions have been in the business of lending money to their parishioners and to the communities that they are called to serve. The question is whether or not there is biblical grounds for the creation of credit/debt by Christians for Christians? Proverbs 22:7 plainly states, "Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender." NLT
In urban centers throughout America urban blight is prevalent. For example Detroit, it is in near catastrophic conditions, economically speaking. Once an economic mega star with the rise in popularity of the automobile industry many working families were enabled to rise to the ranks of the middle and upper middle class. That also meant that African American churches became more affluent because their parishioners had more income. Hence, banking opportunities for many African Americans working families in industrial centers like Detroit during that time where limited to lending practices of mainline banking institutions due to matters of racism. The church recognized these racial disparities and took action by leveraging the economic resources of its parishioners creating credit unions to bridge the gap. People like my parents were given access to goods and services on credit. Credit became the way for churches to build a financial basis by creating credit interest and establishing savings accounts that provided menial interest on the dollars saved. Extending credit is the act of providing access to capital based on the ability to repay the debt based on projected future income. Church’s gave people access to purchase everything from homes, cars, television sets, funding for business ventures, etc. etc.
The problem within the African American community was twofold. One how can church’s justify charging interest to fellow Christians from a biblical perspective? I will discuss that concern in the next article. Secondly, I think the most critical is that the credit world created a chasm within the African American mindset. The pay later mentality significantly under-minded thinking about SAVING money. Herein lies the biggest concern.
The average American have lost the urge to save their money. The African American in particular have borrowed more money and have saved less, dangerous. According to "The African American Financial Experience," a study recently released by Prudential Financial, African Americans aren’t saving the way they should. Prudential found that only 20 percent of African Americans believe that they are on track to meet their savings goals for retirement, and nearly twice as many say they haven’t even started.
I believe the church of Jesus Christ must lead the way in re-establishing within its communities the need to SAVE money and to encourage consuming based on current earnings. Credit cards have become a luxury that has potential to enslave if improperly used. MOM says, let’s make the year of 2015 our year to SAVE money and encourage others to do it with vigor.
Paul reminds the believer, 1 Corinthians 16:2
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Dr. Rodney D. Robinson-Rogers Web Address: leadbycovenant.org
Covenant Leadership Academy
500 South 61st Street
Philadelphia, PA 19143
(215) 472-5548 (Office)
(215) 472-2994 (Fax)