Stewardship education in a Facebook post

“Friends, does anyone use/have success with the envelope system? My husband and I are eager for tips and tricks as we look at new and better ways to steward our money.”

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Twice this past year, my church’s Stewardship Commission (of which I am a member) offered a faith-based money management course, both times with less than spectacular results. Two people showed up for the first go around and six for the second (this from a congregation of close to 400).

So, when a young acquaintance posted the above question to Facebook, I was on it like a cat on catnip. Here was a seeker of the very information that folks in my church had ignored.

I watched the post with interest. Would anyone respond? And if they did, would their responses show that they understood the question?

The answer to my wonderings was a double “yes.” Her query generated a lively conversation that was rich in advice, recommended resources, and personal testimonies, and almost all from members of the millennial generation. Comments included:

“We did it when we were paying off my school loan and it was awesome.”

“No, but I want to once I get a job! Let me know what you think of it.”

“J and I do this and we LOVE it!! We also have a spreadsheet too…”

“One thing I like about it is that you can designate money for you to personally spend, money for you each to personally spend and you don’t have to feel guilty. Before we started doing it we each felt guilty anytime we independently spent money. Once we started the envelopes, we actually felt more financial freedom.”

“I have an excel sheet, I put in the check amount and it tells me how much to put in each account. I can tell you that 10% of everything you make should go into a separate savings account. That’s the best start.”

FOR MY CHURCH (AND YOURS), THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS . . .

1. Make information available any time, all the time. People seek information when the time is right for them and their “right” doesn’t necessarily fit the church calendar. The good news is that not everything that happens within a congregational setting has to take place in groups. Most money management curricula include workbooks, videos, and online resources that support DIY learning. Put the materials in an easy-to-find spot, on-line and “real world” if possible. Then let people know (often) what’s available and where.

2. Involve the target audience in the planning. Funny how this doesn’t happen often enough in congregational settings. However, it’s always wise to seek advice from potential participants before launching a new initiative — all the more so when tackling a sensitive topic like money. Involve the right folks in the planning and you’ll have no trouble attracting takers.

3. Establish trust before talking about money. My young friend didn’t consult a CPA or CFP with her questions about money management. Instead, she reached out to her friends, trusting them for straight answers based on life experiences similar to her own. And that’s what she got. Which brings me back to point 2 and the importance of involving the right people (aka, trust-bearers) in your planning.

Had the Stewardship Commission of which I am a member considered these three points, we likely would have had a better response to our money management series. Fortunately, there’s always next time. And Facebook.

For more on money talk and churches, see:

Ten reasons why people become generous stewards

Speaking of money in church

If not in church, then where will “none” learn to give?

Comments

  1. In our church’s TREC (Training and Equipping Christ-Followers) classes, we arranged for a Christian financial planner to do a 10 week session on family finances. We averaged 200 people each Sunday evening – people ranging in age from late teens to 80 year olds. A second session was not as “successful” – average 60, but we’ll keep doing it until nobody needs it!

    • It sounds like you “scratched” a felt “itch” within your congregation with the 10-week financial management series, even if the second go-around attracted fewer takers. Thank you for sharing this encouraging word, Burt, and blessings on your determination to continue with the offering, regardless the numbers. Your message here is an encouragement to me and my Stewardship Commission colleagues.

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