We’ve heard a lot about how to survive the coronavirus pandemic physically. But what about surviving financially?
On this episode of The Roys Report, Chuck Bentley of Crown Financial Ministries joins Julie to discuss this crucial issue. Chuck offers practical steps people should take immediately to weather this storm. He also discusses an Open Letter he wrote, urging churches and Christian ministries to exercise extreme caution when considering taking government money to stay afloat.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Chuck offers spiritual insights about overcoming fear so believers can honor God with their money during this time of uncertainty.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian music and talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book Money Problems, Marriage Solutions.
He also serves on the board of Foundations for Farming in Zimbabwe, an initiative dedicated to helping the ultra-poor learn to flourish using local resources.
Chuck is the founder and executive director of the Christian Economic Forum, a global community of high achievers with a higher calling.
Chuck and his wife, Ann, both graduates of Baylor University, have been married since 1978. They can be found reading and spending time outdoors with their family at their home in Knoxville, Tennessee, when they are not traveling the world together to advance Crown’s mission.
They have four adult sons, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren.
JULIE ROYS: We’ve heard a lot about how to survive the Coronavirus pandemic physically, but what about surviving financially? Welcome to The Roys Report—a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And today I’m coming to you from my home in the Chicago suburbs instead of our normal studio, like most of us who are all sheltering in place and just trying to get through this Coronavirus crisis. And of course, our first concern has been surviving this pandemic physically, but many of us are suffering financially as well. And we’re wondering how we’re going to make it. Christian ministries, as well, and nonprofits are getting hit really hard. In fact, I heard from a major sponsor of this podcast saying, “Man, we just can’t afford to do anything that’s non-essential at this point.” So, they’re having to pull back and I get it. Donations are down. We have to tighten our belts. But now, the government has passed, what’s called, The Cares Act which provides money for nonprofits. Yet some say this is a Trojan horse and Christian ministry should exercise extreme caution before taking that money. Well, joining me today is Chuck Bentley of Crown Financial Ministries. And I’m so looking forward to getting his input on these critically important issues. But before I do, I want to take a minute to thank our sponsors. One of them is Marquardt of Barrington. And right now, you can shop for a car at Marquardt from the comfort of your own home. To see their showroom, just go to BuyACar123.com. And if you live in the Chicago area, Marquardt will drop off the car at your home for an extended test drive. Plus, right now Marquardt is offering 0% financing for 84 months. That’s seven years of zero interest. So again, you can just go to BuyaCar123.com. Also, I want to remind you that Judson University’s next World Leaders Forum is October 20, at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center. And the speaker for that event will be General David Petraeus—a four-star general and former director of the CIA. I know that’s several months away, which is a good thing given our current situation, but I encourage you to mark your calendars now for the next World Leader’s Forum on October 20. For more information, just go to judsonu.edu.
Well, again, joining me today is Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. And I know Chuck has been extremely busy managing so many people’s questions and their financial issues right now. So, Chuck, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time.
CHUCK BENTLEY: Julie, it is my pleasure. I’ve been a follower of yours for some time, from a distance, and so to be invited onto the podcast is a real honor. And I mean that. Thank you so much.
JULIE ROYS: Well the feeling’s mutual. I really appreciate what you’re doing and your entire ministry. So, thank you. There’s two areas that I want to explore with you today. And one of them is just how to survive this whole pandemic, financially, when it comes to our own personal finances. And then secondly, I’d like to get into just exploring how Christian ministries will survive the crisis and whether they should take any money from The CARES Act. But let’s start with surviving this crisis personally. How can we prepare ourselves, our households, to survive what’s obviously going to be a very hard financial time?
CHUCK BENTLEY: Well, I like the way you framed it out, Julie, because it’s true that we have one crisis, which is a health crisis. And that’s being managed with measures that have caused the second crisis, which is the economic crisis that’s upon us. Record unemployment, literally a vertical line of people losing their job, it’s skyrocketing. Uncertainty across the board, lots of moving parts and ambiguity. I’ve been talking to ministry leaders all over the world who just simply don’t know what to expect. But we know this, it’s going to be rough. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride. So, I called my staff together and I actually called my children together. And I said, “You know, I do this professionally. I do this for a living, but I want to talk to you. I want to just give you just exactly what I think you need to be doing now.” And Julie, if you don’t mind, I’m going to give you the same talk that I gave to our staff and to my children. I said, the first thing you need to do is cut back your spending by at least 25% for the next 90 days. Now, that’s difficult to do and some people roll their eyes. I still have a teenager at home that thought, “Man, what are you talking about, Dad? Why?” Well, the economy is going to shrink by at least that much. We know that all the forecasters from Goldman Sachs on are saying at least 25% contraction in the next quarter. And that means that we need to contract as well. That’s difficult because we also need to support small businesses. And at the same time, we need to just be spending money on what’s essential and pull back on what’s non-essential. That’s been done for us during a shelter- in but I suspect that’s going to be lifted here before long. And what we need to do is just decide where we can cut now. Pull back on the spending. That’s number one, Julie. And feel free to jump in there if you want any clarity on these. But number two, I said to those that I’m advising, it’s time to save as quickly as you can. If you headed into this unprepared, you’d better get prepared because it’s going to be a really bumpy ride. And most people need at least $1,000 in emergency savings. 40% of Americans went into the pandemic without that, and they need to get $1,000 in saving as soon as possible. Three to six months in saving would be best. And so, when you pull back on that spending, do so in a way that you can increase your savings. But then the third advice and we can, I’ll pause and let you ask some questions about it. But the third advice is to prepare to give sacrificially. If this were a fire or a flood or a tsunami or an earthquake, there would be a huge outpouring of support. But it hurts my heart to hear that people are pulling back on their giving. And they’re not being sacrificially generous. But that’s what’s necessary at this time. And with the stimulus money that’s coming into our mailboxes, I think you can look at that as either, you know, the second goal I gave—if you don’t have savings, and then suddenly you’ve got some, and you need to hang on to it. And you need to be prepared to ride out the storm. But if you don’t need it, and you have savings, that’s the time to give it away.
JULIE ROYS: There’s two things that I thought when—because I read these steps that you have at your website. You can download, actually, all of these steps that you give as advice, and this is so helpful. When I saw the cut expenses 25%, I was thinking, well, I hadn’t really thought that much about that. Because I thought my husband’s income is pretty steady. My income will likely take a cut. We’ve kind of gauged for that but we just hadn’t thought that much about that. And so, I mean, I appreciate that. And I’m like yeah, that’s probably just wisdom. That whether we think we’re going to contract or not, we need to be cutting and just preparing. Because we really don’t know, for sure, what’s going to happen. But secondly, I’m guessing a lot of people, when you’re talking about increasing that savings gap, are thinking, “My income has already gone down. So how on earth can I increase my savings and be sacrificially generous at a time like this?” So, what do you say to those folks?
CHUCK BENTLEY: Well, there’s certainly no advice that I could give, or anyone could give, suits everybody at the same time. We have to contextualize each person’s individual circumstance. But there are those that are not hard hit. You mentioned your husband. He may be in an industry where his income’s not affected at all. I know people like that. I’m speaking to the people whose income is affected—who they are going to be in more pain than others. And you can actually save and give at the same time. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, Julie, and it’s not easy. But I’ve seen people do it. I’ve seen people do it, whether they’re widows who have very little to live on, or people who are actually on government assistance, and they’ve been able to do it. But those are two Biblical principles that have to coexist in tension, actually. But it’s clear that those are the things God wants us to do. You can save by cutting back your spending even more than 25%. I’ve had friends who’ve done it 50%. And that means they got rid of everything, no more Netflix. Some of them canceled their phone plans. Some of them have upped their insurance coverage deductibles. They’ve gotten very, very creative to find margin to be able to set aside money and have some emergency funds so they can stop going into debt. And then sacrificially giving means that even though your maybe uncomfortable, you’re still putting other people’s needs first. And what I’ve seen Julie over and over, is just the faithfulness of God. When people act unselfishly—because our natural tendency is to hoard. Look at what happened to toilet paper. When we act on selfishly, we see God go to work and help us in ways we never could explain or understand.
JULIE ROYS: Yeah, I so believe that. And I think as we are generous, it comes back. Because I’ve seen people in their neighborhoods communicate to their neighbors, hey, if you need anything. And I know, my neighbors and I, we’ve been exchanging stuff. Because we don’t want to run to the grocery store when we don’t have to. So, we’re calling each other all the time, “Hey, do you have this, do you have that?” And we’re helping each other out. And then I heard from somebody else who said, “Yeah, we live out in the country. We got a shotgun in case anybody wants to come and take our stuff”. And I’m like, really? That’s the disposition we’re having as Christians? I mean, that’s not a Christian disposition. And I do think there’s something to just keeping that open-handed. And trusting, I mean. Chuck, are we at a point where so many of us, for so long, have grown just sort of feeling like we’re comfortable and don’t need anything from anyone? And to have a situation where we feel we’re aware of our weakness. We’re aware of our dependency. This can be a healthy thing, spiritually, especially.
CHUCK BENTLEY: Well, I think so. Our life founder, Larry Burkett, used to say all the time, “Do you trust God or do you just say that you trust God”? And we’ve gotten an opportunity to find out if we were just saying those words, or we really believe them. And I love what you’re talking about—neighborhood generosity, considering your neighbors during this time. We started a private Facebook page just for our neighbors and each other posted online. It’s fantastic. We had trees blown down during a recent storm. One of our neighbors is a widow. We showed up in her front yard all eager to help her and turns out it was more complicated than we could do. So, we hired a tree service to come and help her with the damage in her home. And we all chipped in $400 a piece, which was, you know, that was sacrificial for us. But she just loved it. And it made our connection to our neighborhood like we’ve never had it. So, you’re right, good things are coming out of this.
JULIE ROYS: Absolutely. Well, and when you are saying cutting back and looking for areas you can cut back, I know our family has found one of the places where we’re spending zero where we used to spend, you know, several hundred a month to be honest, is eating out. And now we don’t eat out at all. And I know, probably, those who are in the restaurant industry don’t like to hear that. And we will certainly try to help our neighbors who own restaurants as soon as we feel that’s a good thing to do. But right now, I’m just kind of like I would rather prepare this food ourselves, in our own home. But that preparing all your food yourself and not going out to eat, that’s got to be, I’m guessing (I don’t know what the average is for Americans, you probably have a better idea) but that’s got to be an expense that most Americans spend quite a bit per month. Am I right?
CHUCK BENTLEY: Well, you’re exactly right. It’s 10% of the American budget, which is food. Normally, families spend about 10% of their total income on food. And that includes eating out. And right now, eating out is down almost 90-95%. They’re surviving by take-out orders. And we’re seeing some people designating churches or churches are designating restaurants that they’re trying to help. Or they’re buying food for shut-ins, and they’re distributing it that way. And they’re helping these local businesses. But, you’re right, that’s a category that’s down significantly. Also travel. You know, entertainment, all those areas. Retail shopping—they’re down substantially. And what we’re finding out is that we can be okay. We can find contentment without going through retail therapy.
JULIE ROYS: Absolutely. And a lot of people probably—I know we had a vacation planned for spring break. That’s not going to happen. As a result, we didn’t get everything refunded. Got credits with our airline tickets, which is what most people are getting. But obviously, we didn’t spend that money that we would have spent on that vacation—a lot of it. And so that’s one area of savings, too. We are looking at summer, whether we’ll be able to take a vacation this summer. Do you think people should cancel their summer plans? Or do you think we’ll be able to go through with those?
CHUCK BENTLEY: Well, it’s hard to know. I think that the pressure on the government, right now, is immense to open up, what I call, a targeted strategy for restarting society. It can’t be just one-size-fits-all. But there’s going to have to be some protection on the most vulnerable once they find the common denominators of those who are most vulnerable to the disease. And then those who are not vulnerable, allow them to go back to work. We’ll probably all be forced to wear a mask. But look, I think wearing a mask—we went to the grocery store recently, and we wore our mask and made them at home and we kind of had fun doing that. I think it’s a way to show love to the people who are out working and serving. I don’t consider it a restriction on my rights or something that I need to be complaining about. I’m happy to wear the mask. Probably look better in it, you know. And it’s just be kind and considerate to other people, and accept that as part of what we need to do to help society at large. It’s frustrating to me to see people who are bucking the system and saying they’re going to hold their church services anyway. And their rights are being violated. This is just common sense. Let’s help one another.
JULIE ROYS: Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve said from the beginning, I think one of the ways we love our neighbor is by not infecting our neighbor or getting infected because if you get infected, you will likely infect two to three others. And that’s how this pandemic spreads. So, it’s so important that I think we follow these common sense measures. I want to turn to those who have lost their jobs. Because I know there’s a sizable number of Americans right now who are dealing with having lost their employment. Speak to that person right now. How do they get through this?
CHUCK BENTLEY: Well, a couple of ways. Number one, the unemployment packages are unprecedented right now. In fact, I just talked to an employer before we got on the call today, Julie, that he’s not able to get some of his employees back right now because their unemployment package is better than if they went back to work. So, you can draw federal unemployment benefits now for 10 months. That’s up from a previous level at 6 months. It’s now up to 10 1/2 months. That’s some indication of how long they think this may last. Secondly, you can get $600 a month stipend as in addition to those federal benefits, and you can draw staple unemployment benefits. So, they’ve really created a package to help people whose industry may be completely shut down. That’s one way to get through it. And I think it’s appropriate to receive those funds and to use them for this time to take care of your family. Secondly, I’ve seen—you know the saying that necessity is the mother of invention. In a crisis, oftentimes your creativity increases. And you begin to do things that maybe you never thought you would do. Look all over our neighborhood. And I live in an area where there’s a lot of clusters of homes. There’s somebody delivering these balloons for birthdays, and they’re all in the front yards—these Happy Birthday signs and all these balloons. People have started a business delivering things. There are people that are now driving food from one house to the other or driving packages from one house to the other. We’re seeing innovative ways for people to supplement their income. I’ve seen a guy start a business helping elderly people know how to do Zoom. And you know, what is FaceTime? I mean, my father is 87 didn’t know that his phone allowed him to FaceTime and when he learned it, he was like, “Oh, this is cool. I can see you guys when we talk.” And there’s a service of an IT person who’s now helping the elderly. You know, these shut-ins, or people in senior care facilities, can’t see their children right now. So, they’re teaching them technology and it’s been a beautiful thing to watch. While some industries are hurt, others are booming. I have a kid, in our neighborhood, who said his summer job is now restocking the grocery shelves in the evenings. And they’re just exhausted. They’re working so hard. People in health care are overworked and they need backup reinforcement in those areas. Logistics companies doing online selling, they need help right now. So, what we’re going to see, Julie, is a shift in skill-set that’s needed. We will recover. We will come back and people will get re-employed. But, look, if you don’t have the skill sets needed into the future, start using your time learning them now. What you invest in today will pay rewards and dividends in your future. Watching a lot of Netflix movies, that’s not going to help you get a job. But watching things that improve your skills, that will help you get re-employed.
JULIE ROYS: I just have to giggle. I was just talking to my father, about Zoom, trying to explain it to him recently. I think I need that service.
CHUCK BENTLEY: My dad, it’s so funny to watch them. And, you know, it’s a joy for them to be able to connect. I got to talk to my father by Zoom on Easter Sunday. He’s 87. He’s been sheltered-in for almost a month and it was just such a joy to see him and talk to him. And I appreciate people who know how to work the technology better than I do for sure.
JULIE ROYS: Yeah, well, it’s something that we’ve gotten very used to using the Zoom. We’re doing it with our small group. We’re doing it with our extended family. We’re doing it with our good friends and it’s life. It really is. Because you can feel so isolated at home especially if you’re an extrovert like I am. I need that. I really need that. And it’s the only way I can see my grandson right now. So, it’s—that’s been killing me. But at least I see him on video. I want to hug him but that’s all I could do right now is see him on Zoom. Let’s turn our discussion now to this CARES Act. For those who, maybe you’ve just read the headlines and they’re not really aware how this might affect nonprofits and ministries and churches. Can you explain the portion of The CARES Act and the way that it impacts ministries and nonprofits?
CHUCK BENTLEY: Yeah, Julie. 350 billion dollars was set aside for the not-for-profit sector. That includes Christian ministries and even churches. And the idea, it’s under what’s called the PPP—the Payroll Protection Program. It’s really the payroll protection loan program, where you can apply for a small business administration loan and get up to two months of your payroll advanced to you in the form of a loan. And if you don’t lay people off, it actually becomes a grant. And so that was presented to us. Our board of directors looked at it. And obviously, we’re an employer. And we wondered, “Do we need to do this?” And so we took it to our board, and our board actually decided that we did not want to participate. And I published a letter to other pastors and ministry leaders, asking them to consider whether they should or not—not telling them what they should do, but just asking them to pause and to pray and consider the pros and the cons of this decision. Because my understanding is that the people who are promoting it, were so busy, they were overwhelmed. In fact, one Zoom call maxed out at 3,000 pastors. And so they had to roll over into Facebook Live, and they had 3000 standing by to hear how to make application for the loan. And we were like a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Wait a minute. Do you really need the loan?
JULIE ROYS: And do you—and this is what I’m hearing on Facebook a lot. So, this is a social media conversation around this –is do you, especially as a church, but even as a Christian ministry? Do you want to be indebted to the state, to the government? And so, I’m hearing Christians raising red flags and wondering, “Is this a way for government control?” I’m also hearing some Christian ministries say, “Well, now it’s a temporary loan. It’s not a permanent indebtedness. It’s just for to get over the crisis.” What’s your feeling on that particular discussion?
CHUCK BENTLEY: Well, we’ve studied it pretty closely. And there’s two factors that I think people need to understand. Number one, it is legal. The Small Business Administration—the rules have changed where they can make a loan to people who discriminate on the basis of faith. In the past, they could not make that loan, but those laws have been suspended or rewritten for this particular act. And so, it’s legal and I don’t think that you’re causing—you’re not going to be in sin by taking the loan. In fact, we did some research on it, Julie. And there’s a number of times in the Scripture where the government does help God’s people. You know, the pharaoh provided land in Goshen for the Jews in the great famine in Egypt. Or Artaxerxes provided help to Nehemiah to rebuild the wall. And there’s just a number of places where it’s okay. It’s not necessarily compromising if that help is available and you deem it as appropriate. But the other factor is the money—is it truly coming from taxpayers? A lot of times we say, well, it’s a small business administration loan. No, it’s taxpayer money. And typically, the people I’m talking to are tax- exempt charitable organizations, 501C3’s, running Christian ministries, and Christian churches. Now if you have transaction revenue, like from a school or some sort of program, where it’s run more like a business in a not-for-profit wrapper and not-for-profit legal context, that’s a different situation. But if you’re an organization that depends on the donor, we believe that if you want to preserve your tax-exempt status going forward, it’s wise, although it’s legal, you can take it, it’s wise not to take it. Because I think it’s going to become a political football to challenge those organizations, or even the whole sector, with their tax-exempt status in the future. That’s already been under challenge. And no sooner had I published my article, a group of people who are not happy that Christian organizations are getting this money—they’re an organization for the separation of church and state—filed a complaint and they’re threatening lawsuits for the constitutionality of this act. So, I would like to be counted among those who said, “Well, we had access to it. And it was okay if we did it. We’re not going to condemn or judge anybody for doing it. But we chose not to.” Alan Mulally did that when Ford Motor Company qualified in the 08-09 great financial crisis for the bailout from the government. They were the only American automobile manufacturer not to take the bailout money. And it improved the goodwill among his customer base. And I thought it was a courageous decision. And one that I would expect Christians to be able to make, Julie—that we have we have a better support plan than the taxpayer, in my perspective.
JULIE ROYS: Yeah, absolutely. And on the whole non-for-profit and losing non-for-profit status. I mean, I’ve done a lot of reporting, as you know, on financial mismanagement of ministries and churches. And we’re in a precarious situation right now because of some of our mismanagement and not being transparent, not filing 990’s and misusing funds. Some churches, for example, obviously, I’ve been publishing a lot about Harvest Bible chapel and what happened there and they’ve made some changes, and I hope it’s better. But the public is—and, in some cases, rightly upset, I think, with the Christian community and its financial management or mismanagement. And so, I do think you’re right, that there could be a real backlash, and we’re hearing it from some of these organizations. I know a piece I did recently got picked up by The Friendly Atheist, and I wasn’t really pleased about that, because I like to report within the Christian community. I want us to reform ourselves, right? I don’t want it to come because the world is telling us to clean up our act. I want it to come because we are, as Christians, purifying what’s happening within the church. But I think that point is well taken—that if we don’t abide by best practices, and again, taking taxpayer money for our ministries, maybe that should be a real caution, I think, to us. And so I’m very, actually appreciative for what you did Chuck and putting that open letter out there. Again, you’re not sinning if you take this money, but I do think, and I agree with you 100%, that we should be very, very cautious about doing that—a lot of unintended consequences.
CHUCK BENTLEY: I want to thank our board of directors for that decision, Julie. Because, you know, I took it to our board, and they asked me to write a sort of an analysis of whether we should or shouldn’t. And I put it in—I did my pros and my cons and just some Biblical context to it. Put it in their hands. And they unanimously said, “We want to be an organization that says no.” And they liked the letter I wrote to them so well they said, “Why don’t you publish that?” So I did. And it’s gotten lots of traction and not all of it positive. And you know how that goes, Julie?
JULIE ROYS: Oh, yeah.
CHUCK BENTLEY: One pastor said to me, “Well, all of my staff members are taxpayers, and therefore if they’re taxpayers, we should be able to qualify to get some tax money.” And I wasn’t—I mean, I appreciate that perspective. It’s true. I’m a taxpayer, you’re a taxpayer, but we get a taxpayer stimulus individually. And I think we should take that, and I think it’s appropriate for that. But I don’t think for an organization that is tax-exempt, that we don’t pay taxes like other corporations. That we should turn around and say, “When we get into trouble, the taxpayer comes to our rescue.” And look, the bottom line for our board was this—and I’m so proud of them. They said, “Would you rather be at the mercy of God or at the mercy of man?” And the bottom line was we will take the mercy of God every time. We will trust Him if we fail if we crash and burn, we did it. With our full confidence in the Lord. And that’s where we want it to be. And we’ve gotten some of the sweetest letters from people who said, “Oh, I am so comforted by knowing you really do trust the Lord. You know, you really do.” Because it’s oftentimes the money that separates us from exercising faith. And I think it’s why so many organizations get into trouble. They get into a lot of debt and get in over their head, because they haven’t learned to wait and trust God with everything that they’re about. And how could we, as an organization, who’ve been teaching this for 44 years, turn around and do differently? You know, we couldn’t tell other people to do that, and then not walk the walk ourselves. So happy to be in this position. We feel vulnerable, in one sense, that what if, you know, we made a mistake and we end up the group that goes out of business? Well, we’ll go out of business fully trusting God and we’ll be happy with that.
JULIE ROYS: And there are worse things.
CHUCK BENTLEY: There are worse things. God would just tell me I wasn’t very needed for such a time. And I’ll have to find something else.
JULIE ROYS: Yeah, well, I have a feeling that’s not going to happen. But I appreciate what you’re saying—a couple things I appreciate about what you’re saying. One is that you went to your board, and your board obviously, has voice. And just that one thing right there, that Chuck didn’t go into his board and say, “We’re going to do this.” And the board was a bunch of rubber stamps. That’s important. And I just appreciate that because it’s sorely needed in a lot of organizations, I think. So I appreciate your board did that. But two, when you’re talking about this, I do think finances are the one area where we are so easily tempted to sin. And I think it’s because of fear. I think exactly what you’re saying—trusting the Lord, overcoming our fear. And I know I told my son recently actually because we were talking about this very thing and about finances. And he’s trying to figure out an employment situation and whether or not he’s going to launch out on something he’s really feeling called to do. And I told him— because I remember very vividly back in my 20’s, there was an agreement we had made with some family members and involved money. And then when the rubber hit the road, and there was a lot of fear involved. And I remember at the time, I was like, they were saying, “Well this was what you agreed to.” And I’m like, “No it was this.” And, you know, that’s really how I remembered it. But again, I had a vested interest in remembering it that way. And I remember about six months after everything had happened, and we were close. It was a little bit of chaos, but we’re close today and actually it didn’t destroy our relationship then either. But six months after, for some reason, I recalled what I had said and that they were absolutely right. And I had to go back to them and just ask for forgiveness for that. But I realized I was so blinded by my fear, because I was afraid that we wouldn’t be able to make it financially. And that was hard for me. And that stuck with me. I mean, that was again when I was in my 20’s. Now, that’s like 30 years later, but it’s stuck with me throughout my life. I’ve realized that whenever finances are involved, or a job is involved, that is when we are most likely to do things we would never otherwise do and to sacrifice our integrity. And so, it showed me my own vulnerability. And I’ve tried to communicate that to my kids. Watch it with money because money is that one thing. And it’s not that you’re greedy, it’s probably just that you’re fearful.
CHUCK BENTLEY: Right Julie. Because the number one reason people aren’t more generous, it’s not greed, it’s fear. We fear that if we give today God won’t provide tomorrow. And I think that’s one of the things that we are going to have an opportunity to get over that fear during this time. We can give now trusting God for tomorrow. The same goes for churches. I think it’s important for churches to talk to their people before they take the taxpayer money. You know, we have—and I’ll be careful to say this—but we haven’t had any church, or any organization reach out to us and say, “We’re, this downturn has caused us pain, we need your help.” And so, I’m wondering if churches are going to do the right thing and reveal to their congregations, or the ministries like ours revealed to their partners, that they applied for the loan, and they got the funding. I even saw one organization saying, “Call in and I’ll tell you how to leverage the loan” you know, to raise more money with it. And I thought, “Oh, no.” You know, that’s about the last thing we need to be commingling is our donor base with the taxpayer bailout. To me, you have to choose one or the other. And if you do take the money, I think it’s important for churches to let their congregation know that they received that help. And, you know, the other dilemma they’re going to face if they’re in trouble now and this economic downturn goes on for a while. What if they can’t pay it back? What if they can’t meet the covenants of the loan and the people in the congregation don’t appreciate the fact they took the loan and they don’t want to be a part of paying it back? It could get really complex, quick.
JULIE ROYS: Yeah. Better to tighten your belt than to take a loan. And that’s for our personal finances, our ministries, everything. Much better to do that and to stay out of debt. Chuck, I know we’re running out of time and I know you have some things you need to get to but would you just pray for individuals listening right now who are really fearful and ministry leaders? Because, I think, both are just really needing to trust the Lord and yet it’s a really difficult time to do this. But this is where the rubber meets the road. So, if you would pray for them, I would really appreciate that.
CHUCK BENTLEY: I’d be honored. Lord Jesus, we’re so grateful to know You, to be allowed to be in Your family, to be redeemed from our sin and redeemed from the darkness that we once walked in. And to have the joy of calling You, Abba Father. And knowing that we really can trust You. You care for us. You know our needs and You identify with our hurt and our pain and our sorrow and our grief and especially our fear. Thank You, Lord, that Julie pointed out today that oftentimes, we experience financial problems because of fear. We’re driven to overreact or to do things that maybe don’t make any sense at all that because we’re just afraid of tomorrow. We’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t have provision. So, Lord, I want to pray for three groups right now, as Julie mentioned. I want to pray first for pastors. I pray that they will pause. That they will pray—they will seek leadership and counsel and input before they apply for the loan. And Lord not to feel condemnation if they, if that’s the way You provide for their needs right now. Lord, I just pray they’d look to You first. And they would communicate to Your people openly and transparently what their real needs are and allow You and the church to be the first responders to the crisis. Lord, I want to pray for ministry leaders who are in the same dilemma that we’ve been in. And we’ve experienced the pause and the concern about tomorrow and the fear. Lord, we don’t know what’s going to happen to charitable giving. And so we just pray that they will not be driven by fear—that they would be strong and courageous. But they’ll have that different Spirit upon them, like Caleb and Joshua had. Who, in the midst of fear, we’re able to take faith-driven action, and to be bold, even though the circumstances were frightening. And I want to pray for families who are listening. Lord, I pray that they’ll implement these three simple steps—that they’ll truly cut back on their spending, Lord, that they will be able to increase their savings and increase their generosity. Lord, I pray this is the opportunity for the church to show itself to be different and to be the fragrant aroma of You who came to be unselfish—that You poured out everything for our benefit and gain. And I want to pray against the spirit of fear that You did not give us. That fear that’s in families right now, where there’s stress or somebody lost a job or somebody feels under enormous pressure in their marriage because of their finances. Lord, that You would be present tending their needs, giving them new ideas and new hope and helping them through the crisis, Lord, as they depend on You. I just pray for families to stay strong. And to be the salt and light we need in the culture right now—to be people who truly demonstrate faith. That if we try to walk by sight, it’s all frightening. If we walk by faith, and we can have peace and contentment, and joy. I thank you, Lord, for Julie’s commitment to integrity and finances and calling out those who have misstepped. Lord, I do pray that there’ll be reformation in our own hearts starting with me. And we think about You and having complete transparency and integrity with finances. I thank You in Christ’s name. Amen.
JULIE ROYS: Amen. Chuck, thank you so much. I’ve so enjoyed our discussion and just really appreciate your ministry especially now. So needed.
CHUCK BENTLEY: Thank you, Julie. I want to say the same thing. Thank you for what you stand for and the courage that you’ve had. I know it’s not been an easy journey for you and your family. But God bless you and I pray for your provision. I know that when a sponsor pulls back, that’s not easy, but maybe the Lord will raise up a new one today.
JULIE ROYS: Well, we hope so. And we know God is faithful. So, whatever happens, we trust. We trust.
CHUCK BENTLEY: Thank you, Julie.
JULIE ROYS: Thank you. And thanks so much for listening to The Roys Report—a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And if you’d like to find me online, just go to JulieRoys.com. Hope you have a great day. Stay safe and healthy and God bless.