I read an interesting article today. The article discusses the predatory loan practices of payday loan companies. The article mentioned the results of a Lifeway Research study regarding attitudes of Christians towards finances.
The Lifeway study was quoted, “77 percent of self-identified Christians in dozens of states think it is a sin to lend money to someone who cannot afford to pay back the loan. Still, few say payday loans are immoral, and one in six Christians has admitted to taking out a high-interest payday loan. LifeWay also finds that many believers lack knowledge of how such loans work, nor do they look to the Bible for guidance about lending.”
Abraham Hamilton was also quoted in the article. He emphasized the fact that these payday loan companies are taking advantage of the people who are least able to protect themselves from these practices – the elderly and impoverished.
What are some ways that we can protect the financially vulnerable? I don’t think giving away money is the best approach. That would simply create an unhealthy reliance on the church rather than the payday loan store. Hamilton stated the two main things he recommends is 1) teach your church membership that these predatory practices exist, and 2) make financial management a part of your equipping ministry.
I believe that our smaller membership churches are able to impact their communities by taking a stand on this issue. Jesus told us in Matthew 25 that we are to care for the vulnerable in the community. We are not to live in a bubble. We are to be incarnational, taking Christ into the world. When we work in the community to care for the powerless, we show the love of God. People need to know you care in order to trust what you tell them regarding the gospel.
Consider your church’s role in the community. Do you have vulnerable people who are being mistreated? How can your church protect them?