Should we offer money management programs?
John Hamalainen from Sudbury recently sent me a link to a website that sells money management resources of all kinds: books, DVDs, courses, podcasts — the whole nine yards. He wasn’t urging me to do anything, but was simply sharing something that he had found helpful.
John was sincere in his praise:
“I’ve been an avid follower of Dave Ramsey for about 2 years now and he’s made a big difference in my life my giving to the church. At first I was a little skeptical, but after two years of listening I see he is genuine. The nice thing about Dave Ramsey is he’s a devout Christian and references many biblical references in his teachings and the importance of Christian values and beliefs. He has a live 3 hour radio program on each weekday from 2:00 – 5:00 EST which can be accessed through the radio tab in the link. I never took the course but listen to him on average 8-10 hours per week and also have an audio book of his and others he recommends. All of his material is faith based.”
Disclaimer: My inclusion of the name in the quote above is not an endorsement of the person or his material. I am not familiar with his products or approach. There are many other providers of material that purports to teach people how to manage their finances more effectively.
I tend to be skeptical of this sort of thing, especially when it is offered “from a Christian perspective”. (Some day I need to work through the reasons why I am skeptical, but that’s another story.) Perhaps it’s time to put my skepticism aside while considering the underlying question. Should Eastern Synod congregations be offering some sort of program in basic money management to their members and others?
Many other denominations consider such programs a key part of their ministry, but I don’t know of many Lutheran churches that do so. The argument in favour of the programs is easy to state:
- Many people encounter difficulties managing their financial life.
- Financial difficulties can spill over into other realms, destroying relationships, marriages and families. One’s spiritual life can be affected by financial woes.
- Churches offer programs to address other types of “life problems”: marriage enrichment; pastoral counselling with individuals, couples and families. Why wouldn’t they offer programs to help people better manage their financial affairs?
If we examine the question from the perspective of giving, we might ask how we can expect people to be generous if they are deeply in debt and struggling with financial chaos?
If congregations were to offer such programs, they could form an important part of the church’s ministry to the community outside the congregation. According to the statistics, millions of Canadians are drowning in a sea of mortgages, car loans and credit card debt.
What do you think? Does your church offer programs in basic money management? Is this something we should be doing?