Last week I talked about a campaign to get your church out of debt, and I appreciate all of the feedback. I knew it would be a hot topic.
Let’s stay on the same topic but take a bit of a shift this morning.
Circle of Hope, a Brethren in Christ Church in Philadelphia has the “Debt Annihilation” program, a support group for members of the church who are struggling to pay off their credit card debt. With a few thousand dollars in seed money donated by the congregation each member got a boost on the first month’s payment. Then the group worked together to counsel and support each other as well as making additional payments into the kitty to help pay off the debt.
Financially, the program is working.
I really like this for two reasons. First, I have often said that you can’t tithe to Master Card and tithe to God at the same time. Helping your members get their financial houses in order allows them to re-prioritize their spending and therefore their lives. This isn’t just about getting a few more bucks in the offering plate on Sunday morning. It’s about allowing your people to develop the love of giving in their faith.
Second, I can’t imagine a stronger small group anywhere in a church. These people have confessed their financial sins to each other, moved past the shame, accepted each other and are helping each other, both spiritually and financially. This is a church of 500 members with 50 cells of ten members each. Everyone belongs to a cell, a small group that they identify with, that they grow with.
These small groups are the key to ministry. When my parents joined their church in the mid 1950s, they joined a Sunday School class that still exists today. Some of their best friends are or have been members of that class.
I think two of the hottest topics of our time are debt and the sense of isolation. Here is a program that helps both. I think it’s worth taking a look at.