Debt has become a dirty word in church circles, but if the statistics are accurate, hundreds of millions of Americans are in some kind of debt. With those odds, it is increasingly likely that someone in your church has credit card, medical, student loan, or some other kind of debt. As a church, there are some steps you can take to help get your members out of debt. These steps range from the practical to the more extraordinary, but if you are willing to think outside the box, it is possible to see your congregants not only live debt-free but also living a life of generosity.
According to research conducted by LendingClub Corporations, America’s leading digital marketplace bank, as of March 2022, two-thirds or 64% of the U.S. population is living paycheck-to-paycheck. The realities of this phenomenon have no-doubt crossed over into the lives of those in your church, and are impacting some of the singles, young marrieds, and families who are a part of your congregation.
To what sources are your people turning when seeking wisdom in their personal finances? There are numerous financial tools, tips, and resources at our fingertips that promise paths to financial freedom. But how many of these sources are grounded in biblical wisdom and truth? What would it look like for the church to stand up and provide help for their families who are seeking solid, biblical solutions to financial needs, and equip them with practical tools that offer a challenge to view and respond to their finances from a biblical perspective?
Here at INJOY we feel burdened to come alongside pastors and church leaders and provide them with tools to equip their people in personal finance and biblical stewardship. That is why we created Fully Funded Life an online membership community designed to help your congregation navigate their individual finance journeys through practical, interactive, biblical, on-demand tools. We utilize courses, challenges, community, and coaching to help your people win with their money God’s way.
One way to help your people get out of debt is to offer a financial literacy class. You may find that some of your members are in debt simply because they have a difficult time understanding how to budget and make the best use of their finances. For people in this camp, a financial literacy class is a great way to equip people with the tools they need to get themselves out of debt. One great financial literacy class we recommend is I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. They have tremendous resources from small group materials to financial coaching to live, on-site events.
For some, financial literacy may not be the issue. Instead, they may need people in their corner cheering them on and helping them stick to a budget. In this instance, your church could offer an accountability group for those seeking to get out of debt. We all know that many hands make light work, and that’s especially true for getting out of debt. A debt accountability group can help those who just need a little extra encouragement. It can be a time where those who have been in debt and got out of it can share what worked for them and, most importantly, cheer on those who are wishing to be out of debt themselves. Trained financial coaches could also be an incredible church volunteer ministry.
A more extravagant option for churches looking to help get people out of debt is to see if there is a way for the church or members in the church to pay off the debt outright. You may find that a member is buried under a mountain of medical debt due to an unforeseen circumstance out of their control. While this person may need a financial literacy course or a support group, they might also just need someone to love them well by paying off the debt entirely. After all, not all debt is created equally, and not all debt is a conscious choice. If your church, or some of your members, have the ability to bless others in this way, consider this option. After all, we have been blessed to be a blessing, and what better blessing could there be than to inform someone drowning in medical debt that their church has seen and heard them and wishes to pay their debt just like Christ paid our debt of sin on the cross?