Program participants learn about practical money matters for home and church

During the recent two-session virtual financial literacy program “Starting the Money Conversation,” approximately 200 individuals were given tools to help them approach people in their churches and communities about practical money matters, such as savings, debt and credit. The program was co-sponsored by American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Each participant was provided the following four booklets designed to aid in financial well-being for self, families, congregations and communities:

  • “Behind on Bills? Start with One Step”;
  • “Building Your Savings? Start with Small Goals”;
  • “Want Credit to Work for You? Start with these Steps”; and
  • “Debt Getting in Your Way? Get a Handle on it.”

They were also provided with two booklets in Spanish.

“Jesus talked with people all the time about money,” said Jennifer Sanborn, ABHMS’ director of the In Support of Excellence program, in opening the first session. “So we should, too.”

She referenced the Bible story in which a man of renown was told to give away all of his possessions to earn eternal life.

“It concludes with him walking away sadly,” said Sanborn. “What if, later, he sat down with his beloved and said, ‘What if following him [Jesus] means keeping less and receiving more?’ What if, together, they made a 10-year plan about his possessions?”

The first session focused on bills and savings.

A poll among participants via online chat revealed that housing and debt payments are the biggest concerns among participants and those they serve.

Participants were referred to the booklets’ tools that include the “Income Tracker,” “Spending Tracker” and “Bill Calendar.” Also included are eight cards that can be completed and given to individuals in one’s congregation and community. The cards refer recipients to such places as the CFPB, National Foundation for Credit Counseling and Legal Services Corp.

The second session began with a devotional by Mina Ajiboye, ABHMS’ senior accountant, who provided a scriptural context to generational wealth by referencing Proverbs 13:22 (“The good leave an inheritance to their children’s children”).

“Teaching and sharing knowledge is fundamental to generational wealth,” she said, referencing Proverbs 22:6 (“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray”).

The session focused on credit and debt, and the trainers walked participants through the corresponding booklets.

It was announced that two sessions of “Starting the Money Conversation” will be held in Spanish—one on Sept. 9 and the other on Sept. 16.

“This is the work of healing,” said Sanborn in closing. “I’ve been imagining the hundreds of healing conversations that will begin in the weeks and months to come.”

The training videos will be posted this summer in ABHMS’ Center for Continuous Learning to ensure that others are equipped to start money conversations in their ministry contexts. Those interested can contact Jennifer Sanborn at [email protected]org to learn more and gain virtual access to the booklets.