In his classic work Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said that trying to figure out whether faith is more important than works (or vice versa) was a whole lot like trying to determine which blade is most important for a pair of scissors. Both are important in the Christian walk—and both can’t be effective alone.
The same is true for a church’s stewardship ministry. Effective stewardship includes two important pieces: financial education and financial coaching. They work hand in hand to make a difference in the lives of individuals and congregations.
On the surface, financial education makes perfect sense. Classes like Financial Peace University (FPU), The Legacy Journey and Generation Change are important financial discipleship tools that help believers understand God’s ways of handling money at various stages of life.
But some churches rely on just this single blade to build a stewardship ministry. To run at peak efficiency, they need to add financial coaching to the stewardship mix.
“When you help someone who has a need, you want to give them what they really need,” said Philip Bennett, executive pastor at New Life Church in Lewisburg, Tennessee. “Putting them in a class is one thing, but giving them one-on-one information, along with help and love, can truly make a difference.”
Philip recently attended a Financial Coach Master Series event (formerly known as Counselor Training) at Financial Peace Plaza in Brentwood, Tennessee. While he’s been a long-time fan of Financial Peace University, he quickly saw the potential benefits of adding a financial coaching ministry to his congregation’s tool kit.
“We can announce, ‘We’re doing FPU next month, so sign up,’ and people will come,” he said. “They’ll sign up and have their small groups within FPU. But it also helps to have a coach available to walk them through some of their unique situations. Being able to give someone that one-on-one hope and tell them that it’s going to be all right makes it more personal.”
Financial coaching makes a difference at every level of the church. For example, pastors overwhelmed by the thought of offering financial advice can share that load with others. Meanwhile, lay leaders can mature in their own walks with God—all while calming fears and offering genuine hope to others.
It really is a win-win situation for a local congregation.
“It’s not just about helping people get debt free,” Philip says. “It’s also about having a church that can minister and give to people. Being debt-free is part of that process, but we can also be the ones taking care of our community.”
The powerful community element of financial coaching can also lead to more chances to share the gospel. Over the years, many Financial Peace University coordinators have discovered that the class opens doors for deeper, spiritual conversations. Folks drawn to the idea of getting financial help end up connecting with a church and committing their lives to Christ.
Leaders like Philip see the same potential in a financial coaching ministry.
“FPU talks about changing habits, and that’s a piece of the pie,” he explains. “But if folks aren’t committed to Christ, it’s probably not going to make sense to them. Coaching can bring it all together.
“When they come for coaching, they’ll be coming to an office in our church. And I’m going to be able to share spiritual advice with them: ‘This is why my life is the way it is. This is how I view success. It’s through Christ.’ Financial coaching is another tool to bring honor and glory to His name.”
If you’d like to learn more about how financial coaching can strengthen your church’s stewardship ministry, consider attending an upcoming Financial Coach Master Series event at Financial Peace Plaza. Whether you’re an experienced coach or feeling God’s push in this area for the first time, Financial Coach Master Series can give you the tools you need to gain confidence and effectively provide hope to hurting folks in your community.