My personal and professional life is awash in Money Things.
- Working on becoming completely debt-free (like one of those annoying people on Instagram #debtfree) My recommendation for coaching/education on this is Bernadette Joy here. She especially works with Women of Color, but she will also work with White Ladies. And Gentlemen.
- Saving for Summer 2023 Sabbatical.
- Writing my Members of Congress about student loan forgiveness. (Before you roll your eyes, please remember that “unlike other forms of debt, such as credit cards and mortgages, Direct Loans are daily interest loans. On daily interest loans, interest accrues every day.“ Someone faithfully paying off this kind of debt might never be able to pay off the debt due to this predatory practice. Source.
- Working on 92 Thank You Notes for 2022 congregational contributions to the congregations in my Presbytery and am making them as personal as possible because my mama raised me that way.*
- Encouraging congregations who refuse to financially support their denomination that they are taking food away from hungry people, youth conference scholarships away from teens, and counseling from depressed clergy. Also there will be no funds to help your congregation find a pastor, shepherd your seminarian, or help your treasurer calculate SECA.
- Helping congregations realize that not giving their Pastors and non-ordained staff even a Cost of Living Adjustment is a sin.
- Helping congregations realize that it’s not a good idea to make your Pastor a co-signer on the checking account.
- Helping congregations realize that it’s unhealthy to hire church members for paid positions in most circumstances. (It’s great if it works, but if it doesn’t, prepare for ugly church divisions. Also the parishioner turned employee loses their Pastor who becomes their boss.)
- Helping congregations stop hiring church members who need a job. (Personnel is not a mission project.)
- Helping congregations stop worrying about bullies who threaten to withhold money if they don’t get their way.
- Helping congregations talk about money as a spiritual tool.
It’s a problem that – depending on our sources – 32% or 40% or 67% of Americans could not cover a $400 emergency with cash. A huge contribution our churches could make would be financial education for all ages open to everyone. Not only would the information itself be valuable, but it would contribute to a culture of trust. Financial shame is rampant in our congregations. (This is a really good article from May 2016 by Neil Gabler.)
We’ve all heard that Jesus talked more about money than anything else. One of the most valuable gifts we can offer people is to talk about money as a tool for changing the world for good in the name of Jesus Christ.
I also believe it’s essential for the Pastor to know how much each person/family unit contributes to the Church. Stay tuned.
*For those of you who don’t know how denominations work, individual congregations make voluntary or required contributions to the higher councils of their branch of The Church (Presbytery, Diocese, Conference, Association, etc.) Those funds cover everything from the Pope’s salary (for our Roman Catholic siblings) or the Bishop’s salary (for our Anglican and Anglican-adjacent siblings) or my salary (General Presbyter) to everything from A-Z that might resource congregations: Anti-Racism Training to Zoom Set Ups. In my context contributions mostly help with expenses related to education for officers, grants for mission projects, youth scholarships, college chaplains, boundary training, ordination preparation, pastor searches, immigration assistance, background checks, and a very small amount for taking pastors and other leaders out for coffee.
Star used the Dave Ramsey many years ago. We found it very helpful.