How serious are we about world evangelism, about carrying out the greatest commission (Matthew 28-19,20)? Congregations are beachheads for world evangelism. Interest-free loans to help new churches get into their first buildings are already a reality that can be greatly expanded through the Recycled Riches Fund. An interest-free loan does seem too good to be true, but such loans are being made. These are limited because of limited funds. Funds are limited by lack of vision. Here is one area in which we can get serious about the Lord’s work. Read on about Recycled Riches.
The church is to evangelize the world. This is the essence of the greatest commission (Matthew 28:19,20). There are many facets of this commission, and some come down to the local congregation. Missionaries and funds for world evangelism come from local churches. With more congregations, more will be won to Christ, who will, in turn, become involved in world evangelism. The Christian Restoration Association has for many years been helping new congregations get started, and with the Recycled Riches Fund, the possibilities for multiplying congregations is beyond imagination. This will require the co-operation of many individuals and church groups.
One of the problems of new congregation is finding adequate housing for the church. Most congregations must borrow money for building purposes from commercial lending institutions. Over a period of many years, the payback will be from two to three times the principal borrowed. At the end of the repayment period the church will have a used building, and after its initial use, all the principal and interest will have been drained away from the Lord’s work. Is there a better way to finance the expansion of the church? Is there a way for a church to finance its building program and still keep the money in the Lord’s work? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding, yes!
The plan for this is already in place. It is called Recycled Riches. In 1974 the CRA became the coordinating office for this plan—a voluntary effort of co-operation on the part of a number of Christian churches and churches of Christ. Over the years 127 churches or individuals and groups have contributed to the program, and of these 27 have received loans. The average number of participating churches was about 50.
The Recycled Riches concept is as old as the New Testament which tells of offerings being received by churches for sister congregations, even across cultural lines ( 2 Corinthians 8). Chapter 9 continues with directions for sharing and contains a wonderful promise: "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed" (2 Corinthians 9:8). This suggests that if we lack money for the Lord’s work, it is because we do not exercise good stewardship. James further states, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong- motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3, NIV). God’s storehouse is without measure to faithful stewards.
That is what Recycled Riches is about— congregations which have been blessed, helping congregations which have needs. When needs are supplied to churches, they can begin to help others.
To increase the effectiveness of the program, the trustees of the CRA established a Recycled Riches Fund. The fund is built by the contributions of churches and individuals. The two principal purposes—keeping the Lord’s money in the Lord’s work through interest-free loans, and recycling the funds—have been enhanced by the creation of this fund. The borrowing church will repay the principal of the loan through monthly payments to the fund. Thus these repayments will be ready for immediate recycling in a loan to another church. These are significant improvements.
The Recycled Riches Fund is held and managed by the trustees of the Christian Restoration Association. The CRA has been managing funds since the early 1920’s. It was called into existence to manage an evangelistic fund left by the late Sidney Clarke. Others wanted to share in this way, so the Clarke Fund, later called the CRA, was set up. Through the years other bequests and funds have been submitted to the CRA to manage. These revolving- funds arc still intact today, and are still working for the Lord. These trustees have a good track record in fund management.
Churches and individuals now make regular contributions to the fund as long as they desire to do so. As soon as the funds are available and a borrowing church has been certified as a valid recipient of a loan, the loan is made, and payments are returned monthly to the fund. The funds for the next loan are gathered from church and individual contributions as well as the loan repayments.
As new churches have need for building funds, they complete and submit the required Recycled Riches Loan Application Form. A list is kept in the order of application, and names move up the list as loans are granted. Before a loan is made, a review board in the area of the requesting church examines the case and advises the CRA of the feasibility of a loan. This appraisal is important for a judicious use of the Lord’s money. When the loan has been granted, the church makes monthly payments (120) to the Recycled Riches Fund. The principal, without interest, will be repaid in just ten years, but the money will have been recycled many times before the loan is repaid.
In order that no money is ever removed from the Recycled Riches Fund, the borrowing church pays a small service charge (2% of the value of the loan) to the CRA. Managerial costs above this amount are subsidized from the general fund of the CRA.
In spite of Jesus’ words, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," more congregations want to borrow than present funds will allow. This can be remedied by the participation of more individuals and churches as contributors to the Recycled Riches Fund. Formerly only churches could participate in the program, but now individuals can share while they are living, and their donations continue to work after their deaths. "Their works do follow them" (Revelation 14:13). Contributions can be made in a lump sum, by periodic gifts, and/or from an estate.
Planting new churches is an outreach/missions program. Contributing churches can treat this ministry as a mission program or as a budgeted item of the general fund. Like an individual, the church can give a one-time lump sum or periodically. This can be done as long as the Lord blesses the congregation or for a planned period of time. The greater the fund the greater the opportunity for outreach. Already churches and individuals are contributing regularly to the fund. Will you and the church consider this opportunity? You can begin participating by sending an offering designated for the Recycled Riches Fund. Your gift will be receipted and put immediately in the fund for the next loan to be made. It is just that simple.
A Sacred Trust
The Recycled Riches Fund is held as a sacred trust. The money deposited in this fund will not be removed for any other purpose. Faith will be kept with each contributing individual and congregation. In some mission enterprises, it is necessary that money used is money gone. This also is true of most of the budget of a local congregation. When it is gone we have no further use or control of it. Knowing that the Recycled Riches Fund will be used again and again in helping local congregations, and for this only, there is a sense of control for the contributor. This is true for a congregation as well as an individual. This is especially comforting to the individual who wishes his work to follow him.
Do you have questions about this program which we have not anticipated in preparing this page? We have tried to give the gist of the program. We welcome your further questions. Paul Wiener is the Director of Recycled Riches and would be happy to hear from you.
Your Help is Important
Our greatest need is for more congregations and individuals to build the fund to do an increasingly necessary job in providing immediate, interest-free loans to new congregations. The recycling of the fund will help an increasing number of churches to become beachheads in world evangelism.