Investing in Tomorrow

Last week I spoke with a young man from our church headed for seminary. He and his wife will both work to pay off debt from college, to say nothing of the mountain of graduate school expense soon to be added to their tab.

It got me thinking. To what extent should the Church assist individuals like this? I once asked this question and received an immediate response by an elderly fellow. He was a lawyer. With a somewhat impatient expression, the man quickly retorted saying, “I worked hard to make it through grad-school, shouldn’t others.” Perhaps he didn’t realize that attorney’s get paid a little bit more than pastors. The former usually scale the mountain of debt in a few years; the latter sometimes accomplish it in decades.

It’s interesting to me that evangelicals like to point the finger at Catholics and accuse them of not taking Bible teaching seriously. However, I have to tell you, when I worked as a fundraiser in the Catholic Church, I found that most dioceses had endowment funds for seminarians. Sure the polity is different; but the fact is that one church puts their money where their mouth is, while the other talks a good game.

The great missionary Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) provides us with some perspective on this matter. Renowned as the founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM), his burden was for the millions in China who had not heard the gospel. His life’s work was to mobilize men and resources to reach these unevangelized regions for Christ. Yet as he labored in that harvest field and made frequent return trips to England to impress upon people his worthy cause, the constant lamp to his feet was Scripture. His crystal clear articles reveal his own trials and frustrations with the world around him. In this exposition on Psalm 41:1, he warns against ignoring the plain injunctions of Scripture to consider the poor.

Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him. (Psalm 41:1)

Taylor writes, “But who is the one so blessed? Not the one who cheaply relieves his own eyes of a painful spectacle by a trifling alms, or relieves himself of the importunity of a collector for some benevolent cause. Not the one who quiets his own conscience by gifts which really cost no self-denial, and then dismisses the case of the poor and needy from his thoughts, complacently claiming the blessings promised to the charitable. As for those who seek fame and name by their gifts, we altogether dismiss their case from consideration. The blessing is pronounced on those who consider the poor, who turn their thoughts and attention towards the poor and needy, and who do what they can, at the cost of personal self-denial, to lessen the sum of human woe. Such are blessed indeed, and such shall be blessed: blessing is their inalienable portion.

Do not let us spiritualize the text so as to lose its obvious character. This we Protestants are often in no small danger of doing. How much of the precious time and strength of our Lord was spent in conferring temporal blessing on the poor, the afflicted, and the needy? Such ministrations, proceeding from right motives, cannot be lost. They are Godlike; they are Christlike.

We pen these lines in a Chinese boat, moored by a Chinese village. My heart is full; what shall I say? I implore you to consider the case of these poor, and may the Lord give you understanding.”

God put Hudson Taylor in China, and God has put College Church in an environment full of men and women training for vocational ministry. Will we be faithful in our environment as Taylor was in his?

1. Hudson Tyler, Hudson Taylor’s Legacy: A Series of Meditations, ed. Marshall Broomhall (Edinburgh: The China Inland Mission, 1931), 33.

About the author

Chris Castaldo (PhD, London School of Theology) is the lead pastor at New Covenant Church in Naperville, Illinois. He is the author of Talking with Catholics about the Gospel and coauthor of The Unfinished Reformation.


  1. Unfortunately, Chris has hit upon a problem in the “system” that goes beyond unsympathetic lay people into the pastoral ranks as well. The idea is that part of getting prepared for ministry is knowing the lean, faith-testing days of full time seminary plus part time work plus starting a family plus church involvement. It’s a rite of passage, the saying goes. Let me speak as one who experience seminary without previous debt, had a wife whose salary covered our expenses, started our family at the end of my course work, and thus was able to focus on school as my job. A blessing! That is what it was. I was able to gather and glean like other friends could not in the aforementioned setting of multi-tasking. Did my faith suffer? No. In fact, it was given room to thrive I believe.

    Most people have no choice, but I do hope more well endowed churches, institutions, and individuals will take seriously investing not only training but moneys in helping our future pastors get theological education without the burden of debt, work, and other distractions. Good education leads to theologically deep pastors which makes for solid Biblical preaching which leads to healthy churches which leads to mission and which leads to men and women being called to serve the Lord, and thus we start again.

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