…it started an unprecedented faith walk for us, because we learned tight if we would follow biblical economics and simply handle our finances according to God’s instructions, He will take care of us in every way.
The tiny congregation of twelve people was considering us to be their new pastors. After a two hour interrogation, children included, we received a unanimous vote and quickly made the move to the small town nestled in the southern Oregon hills.
This was my first church. I knew the salary would be small compared to the position of youth pastor I had held in a larger church, but during the “inquisition,” I failed to ask what the salary would be. At the start of my first Board meeting, one of the deacons said, “pastor, you probably want to know what your salary is. We pay the bills from the Sunday morning offering, then you get what’s left. Last Sunday that was $10.” I didn’t sleep well that first night in the parsonage, but I prayed a lot!
Our first Sunday at the Church, one of the deacons stood at the beginning of the service and said, “I think that we should pray that pastor Steller gets a job.” And they prayed. However, Just before my sermon that morning, I said this: “I appreciate your concern for us. But with all due respect, we do have a job. We have a town to win to Jesus, and that in itself is going to be a full-time job. I do not have an aversion to secular work, but here is the deal. If you will bring your tithes when you come to church, my family and I will do the same, and let’s just see what God will do!”
During our time there, God worked miracles. People came to know the Lord! We grew to love those people and they learned to love us. The church began to grow. We started a youth center for the town’s kids. Our own bills were paid on time. The church bills were paid on time. Farmers brought meat and produce to us and we prospered in every way!
One day a friend visited us from Portland. I took him on a tour of the town and the church, which didn’t take much more than about ten minutes. He loved what he saw and was inspired by our adventure and our dream for that place. But he didn’t get it. He said to me, “You know, Larry, if I had a million dollars, I would put it in the bank and live off the interest, then I would do what you do.
“The difference between my friend and myself is found in the words of Jesus: “If you decide for God, living a life of God-Worship, it follows you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion- There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” (Matthew 6:24-33 MSG)
That was all nearly 50 years ago. But it started an unprecedented faith walk for us, because we learned that if we would follow biblical economics, and simply handle our finances according to God’s instructions, He will take care of us in every way.
By the way, since my mistake of not asking what the salary was going to be, I still have not asked that question when churches have considered us for the pastorate. Why” Because we have something far better than a million dollars in the bank to draw interest from. We have a track record with God. Since He has never left us hanging upside down, He won’t start now!