Investments involve time, energy, and resources, that is, a Christian is required to be sensitive to God's will in these three areas. The Christian church also needs the investments of its members in the same three areas. A tithe of 10 percent is a common measurement used in Scripture to designate what the Lord requires as a minimum. Various scenarios can be developed about this figure depending on one's life-style, conviction and sense of responsibility for mission.
For the sake of brevity, this article is limited to the last of the three: resources. How time and energy are used often reflects one's resources. What is a safe investment policy for our resources?
Old Order Mennonites advocate that members with excess resources beyond family needs be encouraged to loan some to the deacons fund at 2 percent interest. The deacons in turn loan out to more needy families these resources at the same rate of interest.
Modern society in both urban and rural areas has become complex. Christians' funds need to be invested somewhere. Conventional advice cautions against investing all surplus resources in one place. Further, a balance should be kept between government, municipal or utility bonds, debentures and stocks. Bonds and debentures are usually low risk bonds and relatively low interest securities. Growth stocks in respectable companies not involved in practices or products harmful to people or society are also a good form of investment. Companies with proven management and a loyal and competent work force with a consistent history are known as "blue chip" stocks and are usually a preferred investment. Loaning money to church agencies or congregations can also be termed a "blue chip" investment for the Christian.
Many Mennonites are farmers and invest heavily in land. Land has proven a solid investment over the years but, unless located near an urban area, land values fell in the mid-1980s in the wake of depressed world agricultural markets.
Wise employment of resources given by God can immensely increase one's ability to tithe in an even greater percentage. In business there is a factor known as "hedging," "forward selling," "bulk purchase," "commodity handling," dealing in "futures,"All of which may prove beneficial. The only investment in which the writer has full confidence, the only investment yielding no known losses, offering constant dividends, and granting preferred stock as sons and daughters of God, is in salvation and grace offered by Jesus our Lord! Such an investor has a bright future.
Mennonites have traditionally looked with disfavor on investment in war bonds. In the United States this issue was especially prominent during World War I. In more recent decades a variety of social and political issues have been raised, including the Christian morality of investments in companies doing business in or with the Republic of South Africa (because of that country's former policy of racial discrimination, or apartheid). The appropriateness of investments in companies supplying weapons or other military equipment has also been debated among Mennonites. Some Mennonite sociopolitical activists have advocated an alternative policy: purchasing stock in companies supplying questionable products or engaged in questionable practices and then seeking as shareholders to influence company policies. These issues become especially significant for Mennonite institutions, pension funds, and mutual aid and insurance companies. The credit union movement, international development programs (Mennonite Economic Development Associates), the Waisenamt> (orphans' bureau) among Russian-Canadian Mennonites, and various escrow accounts for war tax resisters are further examples of Mennonite involvement with the investment of money.
In the 1990s, various "ethical" mutual funds became available, and have been offered by Mennonite investment agencies.
Association of Mennonite Aid Societies, proceedings of the Second Conference on Mennonite Mutual Aid, Chicago, 1956, copy at Mennonite Historical Library (Goshen).
Kreider, Carl in Gospel Herald 37 (9 February 1945): 900-901.
See also bibliography under Business.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 454-455. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Martin, Dennis D. "Investments." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/I589ME.html.
APA style: Martin, Dennis D. (1989). Investments. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/I589ME.html.