Financial Education: It's a Spiritual Issue

Financial Education:  It’s a Spiritual Issue
Growing up, I vividly remember watching my dad at the kitchen table dutifully balancing our family checkbook. I know this makes me sound like I grew up in the last century (Oh, you’re right, I did).  I was taught to always pay off my credit card and to pay cash for any car I bought (that accounts for the $100 Austin American I purchased in 1981 which became the proverbial money pit…lesson learned, sort of).

So you can imagine, with that background in mind, how surprised I was to learn that not everyone has had someone teaching him or her about money and how to manage it.  If family members are not handing down this knowledge, then who is?
Enter the church.  If you have been a faithful reader of this blog (and I know you have), then you know that money is a spiritual issue.  Jesus talked a lot about it.  He knew that money could either further our lives or hinder them.   "No servant can serve two masters.
Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Luke 16:13-15)
When people are in debt, ironically, they become slaves to money.  Voila! The church becomes the perfect place to open the dialogue about financial freedom.  According to the 2013 Congregational Economic Impact Study, 36% of all churches are now offering some type of financial education.  Unfortunately, that means 63% of churches aren’t (1% don’t know if they are or aren’t and, well, that’s just plain scary).
In a 2011 Christian Science Monitor article, Trent Hamm found churches were a “hotbed for personal finance education” for the following reasons:
  • It’s in their interest for their members to find financial success
  • It provides a support network
  • When the ideas were presented in a Biblical context, they seemed to hit home much more powerfully
  • The church itself became a visual and spiritual reminder of the goals people were setting for themselves
Dave Ramsey does the most well known of all the financial education programs (and one of the most expensive) - Financial Peace University.  It is by no means the only program. There are others like Mike Slaughter’s Money Matters and Adam Hamilton’s Enough.  Local banks have programs or you can call a financial planner and ask for help.
The church can reclaim its role as being a place that ministers to the whole person – even those who need to get out of debt.  As one formerly in-debt pastor stated, the goal is to become financially stable so you can give more generously to those around you, including your church. As he said, “Generous living increases your joyful living.”  Getting out of debt not only increases the opportunity to give, it increases our ability to live the abundant life.  And let the people say, “Amen” to that.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Although her father would be chagrined, she stopped balancing her checkbook years ago.   Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.