Turning Point Church in Panorama City, California, lit a fire under its mission, vision and core values for nine weeks in early 2014.
That’s when the church saw its culture and its members’ lives transformed. That February, the entire church embarked on Momentum, a church-wide journey through Financial Peace University (FPU) and an accompanying sermon series that changed the way the church viewed money and stewardship.
The results, say Senior Minister Kevin Holland and Momentum leader David Etterbeek, were nothing short of uplifting.
“Momentum is the very best resource of which we know for helping people be successful in managing the resources God has given them,” Holland says. “It has the potential to change family trees, legacies and destinies for the better. Thinking about generational paradigm shifts is so inspiring.”
Turning Point’s leadership hadn’t done a great job of teaching biblical money management in the past. Holland said when he learned so many were hurting so badly, he knew they needed to do something on a grand scale—something members could do together that would change their financial behavior and involve them in something greater than themselves.
“David [Etterbeek] was the main one who convicted me that we had not vigilantly taught people how to be successful in their personal finances,” Holland says. “I was caught off guard. I thought, Hey, we’ve taught on finances. So I was amazed that we had so many great-hearted, devoted lay leaders and great couples who were really struggling there.”
When Etterbeek, a volunteer in the youth and music ministries, and his wife attended Financial Peace University outside of their church, they saw their own lives transformed. Wondering if they were the exception rather than the rule, they then hosted their own FPU class at Turning Point. Turns out that transformation wasn’t a fluke.
That’s when Holland got excited and encouraged the church’s leadership to pursue Momentum. They sent a small group to Momentum training in September 2013 and began planning the February launch. They put Etterbeek at the helm and called their effort Unchained: God’s People Living Debt Free.
“As a church, we hoped Unchained would allow us to fulfill our mission of creating a God-honoring church that would last for generations,” Etterbeek says. “Our desire was that it would free us up financially so that we could give more of our resources to the ministries we value.”
As senior minister, Holland gave Sunday sermons that dove deeper into the biblical principles behind the FPU lessons. But he saw himself as a supporting position to Etterbeek’s quarterback role.
“I think there’s a level of trust and friendship between us that perhaps is a bit different than the typical volunteer-pastor relationship,” says Holland, who was fully sold on the effort yet completely comfortable stepping aside to allow Etterbeek to lead.
Holland did cast the vision, however, and received direction from Etterbeek on how to shape that.
“I realized that we would not attract our membership to Momentum if we only promoted the personal benefits of the class,” Etterbeek says. “Many members would not see the importance of their involvement without Momentum connecting with our mission as a church.”
The mission is helping people find their place in God’s story, while the vision is to create a Christ-centered church filled with thousands of changed lives. Without enough resources, the church explained to its people, both of these become a lot harder to achieve.
Turning Point also operates on two core values that they were able to link to Momentum: that the church wants something for people, not from them, and that every member is a minister who is able to hear from God and make a difference in the church.
They also credit their high participation to eliminating all excuses to opt out. The two biggest excuses? Childcare and the cost of an FPU membership.
Because Turning Point doesn’t have its own facility and because its Sunday location, a high school auditorium, isn’t available on weeknights, they held FPU in other rented spaces. But that meant they didn’t have a spot for childcare. Small-group leaders helped to arrange it within their groups ahead of time. Childcare volunteers were also on hand during classes to cover any emergencies.
“It really took away the excuse for both spouses not to be there because we knew that was going to be key for this to resonate with our group,” Etterbeek says.
They also subsidized the cost of FPU memberships.
With all excuses off the table, about 85% of members signed up. They saw a total turnaround (money saved plus debt paid) of $1,146,278.97. Marriages were saved. Contributions are up significantly, and formal benevolence applications are down. Families have found margin to live more fulfilling, generous lives. People are becoming debt-free. And now, after years of renting space, the church hopes to have its own building within five years.
“There is generally a greater hope for our future individually and collectively,” Etterbeek says.
At the end of Unchained, the church celebrated with a giant scroll revealing the results; credit card cakes they sliced up for serving; a Dump Your Debt tank, where people tried dunking leaders wearing credit card T-shirts; catered food; and a DJ.
Their success was so impressive, in fact, that a few other SoCal congregations in Turning Point’s church family took notice and began their own Momentum efforts. But that’s where Etterbeek cautions churches to approach the effort with the right perspective, because that makes all the difference in the outcome.
“What caught Kevin’s attention was not a potential gain in our church finances,” Etterbeek says. “So while I think that it’s great that [the other churches in our family] are going after this, I’ve really encouraged them to ask themselves why they’re doing this, and to consider what their people hear when they hear the word stewardship from the pulpit. I think the reason why such a large percentage of our people bought into this was because Kevin expressed genuine humility, and he connected this with our church’s vision. Because it wasn’t about them gaining personally as much as it was about a ministry and fulfilling what God wants us to do.”
And when a church follows Turning Point’s example and offers Momentum as a no-strings-attached gift with a larger purpose, inspiring testimonies—for individuals and the church as a whole—are bound to emerge.
Turning Point Church
Van Nuys, California
Senior Minister Kevin Holland
International Churches of Christ
Number of Locations: 1
Average Weekend Attendance: 800
Momentum participation: 85%
Number of credit cards cut up: 241
Amount saved during Momentum: $429,939
Debt paid off during Momentum: $716,339
Change in giving over three months: +$100,000
Are you curious about what Momentum could do in your church? Call one of our advisors at 800-571-0317 or register for one of our Momentum training events below!