'How We Think About Money Is Skewed, It's Wrong and It Will Lead to Ruin,' Says Pastor Preaching Sermon Series Inspired by Wu Tang Clan's 'C.R.E.A.M.'

Pastor Leonce Crump of Renovation Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
Pastor Leonce Crump of Renovation Church in Atlanta, Georgia. | (Photo: Renovation Church)

A few practical of the things that we covered was the idea of budgeting and the reality that first you give towards God's kingdom and then you pay the debts that you owe, and then you estimate the taxes that you will owe. Only after doing those three things do you set a budget for your lifestyle, because those three things all involve money that you don't have first rights to, not if we believe that we're stewards of God's money. Uncle Sam's gonna get his, so we've got to submit our taxes. And if we owe someone something, then we need to pay that back as good representatives of the kingdom. The Bible says don't be a lender or a borrower, so we need to take care of those debts. We need to take care of those debts. Then and only then, do you actually sit down and say, "OK, now what should I be living off of?" Because prior to that, other people have first right's to your money.

That was another big issue, is the idea in our culture that borrowing is normal and necessary, and it's not. We just bought into that lie, that if I can't afford, then I'll borrow to buy. It's not yours. Even a mortgage is not home ownership. Wells Fargo owns [it], because at the end of the day if something happens where I'm unable to pay my mortgage, Wells Fargo will come and get their house. The Bible says that a borrower is slave to the lender, that the lender is master over the one who borrowers.

We are enslaved to Sallie Mae, we are enslaved to our mortgage holders, we are enslaved to the people who hold our notes for our car loans. At the end of the day, if we were ever unable to pay those things — because that's the mentality we have: "As long as I can make the payments it's fine." But if we were ever unable to pay those things, then those people would come and get their property. What an incredible world it would be if Christians could have those funds released. There are some crazy things we could do. If every evangelical Christian in America gave $60 we could free every child sex slave in the world. But we don't have $60 because Mac has our $60. Our money is tied up with some material gain, so we can talk about justice and all the great things we want to do but we can't even resource it because we're resourcing ourselves.

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CP: Not all Christians are in agreement when it comes to tithing. Even when you're just talking about money, people tend to come up with all kinds of ideas. So are you encouraging people to practice generosity just inside the church, or are you encouraging them to practice generosity outside the church as well?

Crump: Absolutely. I think that is the narrative of the New Testament. Now I think you should give inside the church if you're a Christian. I think that if you are a generous person with a generous heart, then you will give inside the church and outside the church. That is the challenge. It would be much easier for me to say, "The Bible says give 10 percent." Which it does, in the Old Testament, but even that 10 percent is not 10 percent. That would be easy.

The hard part, and what I find so beautiful in Paul's words is, this is not about a set amount. This is about how you view your money, who you think it belongs to and how generous are you willing to be. Are you willing to go without something you want to meet the needs of someone else? That's what we're really trying to call our church to. In the midst of that we want to teach them to be wise stewards and stop being foolish about debt and consumer debt and getting themselves wrapped up in situations where they end up slaves to some master who holds the note on some object that has diminished in value the moment they drive it off the parking lot or take it from the store.

CP: What has the response been like to the "C.R.E.A.M." series? Are congregants having the type of discussions you hoped they would be having?

Crump: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I've had multiple people repent to me and to their city group leader for not giving. Multiple people who have made radical steps, including one person who has figured out a way to pay off their car in the next year and half so that they won't have that consumer debt any longer. Had other people make commitments to only buy their vehicles cash now instead of doing financing. People paying back-tithes, in their opinion. Of course this is not anything legalistically I would want to hold them to. But (people) writing checks and saying, "I haven't paid tithes in a year. Here's the last year of the giving that I should have given." So it's been a pretty phenomenal response.

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