December 10 - 16, 2007
This fall we lost another of our "Greatest Generation" members -- a humble widower who had worked a blue-collar job all his life and retired with a middle class pension. We miss his presence in our congregation, but our financial secretary remarked that the absence of his steady, weekly check in the offering plate made a noticeable difference in our collection.
In fact, she observed, the more "Greatest Generation" members the church loses, the worse our income figures look. That's because the younger people don't give nearly as much as older folks. Even those senior citizens on a limited, fixed income nonetheless give steadily and regularly. Over the course of a lifetime, modest checks add up to monumental sums.
It's a generational pattern that our older members have noticed. Whereas the "Greatest Generation" learned to be careful with money and to save everything they could, they complain that their children and grandchildren spend, spend, spend, and then borrow, borrow, borrow. With great consequence to themselves and the church.
"If they can't save money, they probably cant' give money to the church either," one of our Finance Committee members said at a meeting recently, hitting the nail on the head.
That's one reason why more and more churches are helping their members learn the basics of household budgeting and financial planning. The most important reason, of course, is that financial security -- which is essentially living within your means and making wiser choices about money -- helps our members to live fuller, less stressful lives, and to appreciate ALL the blessings that God gives them. But the church may receive a blessing, too.
To help congregations educate their members, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is offering a new program, Financial Fitness Clubs, to organize, train and equip leaders. It's worth checking out (see the link below).
"The Greatest Generation" learned its lessons of thrift and frugality by enduring hard times in the Great Depression and during World War II. There is no equally powerful way to teach the value of money to the succeeding generations, but seminars, workshops, talks and "Financial Fitness Clubs" are good steps in the right direction.
--Rob Blezard, webmaster and editor
Reprint rights gladly given for nonprofit use. Just include this notice: "Copyright (c) 2007, the Rev. Robert Blezard, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission."
New This Week:
Start a ‘Financial Fitness Club’
Wow! Did you know that 74 percent of families live paycheck to paycheck? (No wonder our families can’t give more to the church!). To help families get a better handle on their earning, spending and saving, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is offering congregations help in setting up Financial Fitness Clubs – it’s for education only. Click here to check out their plan and resources. Good stuff! For starters, here’s a resource for the holidays: Celebrate Financially Fit Holidays – geared to help folks enjoy the holidays without overdoing it financially.
“There is no special power in a website. But churches that are intentional about outreach recognize the necessity of developing a high-quality, inviting website. Those that are serious about their Internet presence will stick to it for at least a year.” So begins an insightful article about how to establish and maintain a website that serves your congregation. Click here for “E-Curb Appeal,” from Your Church magazine.
Frugality: Antidote to Prodigality?
The economic excesses of our culture have led to many woes for which frugality is an answer and about which churches are silent, says James A. Nash in this compelling essay. “One might expect Christian churches in America to be spirited champions of frugality and aggressive challengers to the ethos of affluence. But, in fact, they generally reflect this ethos and some have sanctified it.” Click here for “Frugality: Antidote to Prodigality,” in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics.
ELCA Good Gifts
Forget about buying the “perfect gift” for your family member of friend who already has everything! Put your money to good use. Donate money to a worthy ELCA cause in the name of your cherished one. You can help a struggling retired pastor, assist victims of disaster, help start a new church. Imagine the good you can do. Click here for ELCA Good Gifts, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.