Faith & Finances: A Ministry Tool for Deacons

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I've just completed training to become a Faith & Finances certified facilitator and would like to share my experience with my fellow deacons. 

The Chalmers Center trains churches and ministries in Faith & Finances, a biblically integrated financial education curriculum designed specifically for low-income people. Through Faith & Finances, churches can train the materially poor in practical money management skills and unpack how our money is part of God’s work in the world. The $350 training package equips you to walk with your low-income neighbors over time, leading to lasting transformation. (from http://www.chalmers.org/our-work/us-church-training/)

The training consisted of a four-week online course (about 20 hours of work) where 32 participants (divided into two groups) read book chapters and papers, watched short videos, interacted together online, and wrote a draft ministry plan. The online course was followed by a two-day live event (this one was held in Dayton, OH) where key adult learning principles were discussed and demonstrated, as well as practice facilitation of a session was conducted.

The following is a summary of Faith & Finances from the 2013 Annual Report:

Faith & Finances is distinct from other financial education programs in that it is: 

  • built on a relational view of poverty (based on the framework of the book When Helping Hurts by Fikkert and Corbett); 
  • designed for the realities of financially vulnerable adults in the US; and 
  • uses an interactive educational approach to encourage honest, practical application.

Faith & Finances classes meet weekly in small groups (typically 5-20 people) to learn and practice new money management skills in collaboration with others. Groups are intended to include not only facilitators and participants (the target group of those who are struggling financially), but also allies who serve as supportive and encouraging mentors who walk with the class members who want to make changes.

The mission of the Chalmers Center’s US Training arm is to equip churches in North America to fulfill their gospel calling to restore broken relationships and become agents of transformation among the materially poor in their communities. By using Faith & Finances as a holistic ministry tool, authentic, healthy relationships can be formed across socioeconomic lines. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we desire to see low income persons gain practical skills to decrease financial vulnerability, and middle-to upper-income persons gain relational skills to walk humbly with people over time.

There are four things that I'd like to highlight about Faith & Finances:

  1. Churches of any size and demographic can operate a Faith & Finances ministry. 
  2. While only one trained and certified facilitator is needed to begin and operate a Faith & Finances ministry, I would encourage at least two people from the same congregation be trained to co-facilitate.
  3. The program has components that can involve many different members of a congregation and community, from child care and providing meals to serving on an advisory team or being an ally (mentor) to a participant.
  4. If your church is looking for a way to expand its diaconal ministry beyond benevolence and make a sustainable impact on your local community, this is a great ministry to begin with.

I'd be glad to share additional information and insights with anyone who would like to contact me. I'll be working over the next few months to pull together a ministry team and plan to launch a Faith & Finances ministry in my community in 2015.

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Community Builder

Thanks for letting us know about this Terry. It seems like the good folks at The Chalmers Center have once again provided yet another useful resource and tool--along with the When Helping Hurts book, videos and seminars-- for those of use engaged in diaconal ministry. I look forward to learning more about it and hearing stories of how God is using Faith & Finances to reconcile and transform lives . . . lives that witness to and advance God's reign of shalom in the world.

Community Builder

The 2015 Faith & Finances certification training schedule is now available from The Chalmers Center. Check out https://www.chalmers.org/our-work/us-church-training/get-trained/.