Most religious congregations do not provide financial education for the people in their congregation. That is disappointing. It is also motivating.
In the “2013 Congregational Economic Impact Study,” the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving asked respondents if their congregation offers specific courses, workshops, classes or seminars on personal finance or charitable giving for its congregants. Thirty-six percent said yes. Sixty-three percent said no. The same study found that congregations with older attendees (average age of 65 or older) are less likely to offer financial education.
It’s not unusual to hear someone say that “giving is down” or “offerings just aren’t coming in like they used to.” Most of the time, this is said with a tone of hopelessness, as though we’ve done everything we can but there’s just no way to turn it around.
That attitude just does not add up. As the study shows, we have not done everything we can. Two-thirds of religious congregations do not provide financial education to help their congregants be good stewards. We claim to follow a savior who talked more about money than just about any other topic. We live in a society where managing money is complicated and has great potential to both cause harm and do tremendous good. As Women of the ELCA, we are committed to promoting healing and wholeness in the church, the society and the world. Yet, only a third of congregations are providing financial education.
That is disappointing, but it certainly is motivating. We have work to do. Fortunately, one-third of congregations are doing financial education and showing us how it can be done. Women of the ELCA offers free programs like Kitchen Table Philanthropy and Grace-full living. Did you know the ELCA provides Gift Planners in many parts of the country? These stewardship professionals offer workshops for congregations and meet one-on-one with Lutherans across the country to help you plan your estate and reach your stewardship goals – all at no cost to you. Financial education is also available through Thrivent.
Let’s get to work. Is your congregation part of the 36% or the 63%? How is Women of the ELCA encouraging more financial education in your congregation and throughout the church?
Emma Crossen is director for stewardship and development.