In 2000, the Youth Financial Literacy Day was announced. Four years later, the U.S. Senate officially recognized April as Financial Literacy Month. Although it’s mostly banks and other financial institutions that promote this month, faith-based organizations should recognize the need for financial literacy among their members. Money is an important aspect of each person’s life. Financial literacy is about managing all the financial decisions you have to make each day, from budgeting to saving. We believe it’s important to the church because congregants who are informed about finances typically make good decisions.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
This psychological theory focuses on different stages of development in humans. The most fundamental needs are at the bottom of the pyramid. A person cannot graduate to the next level until basic needs are met. Imagine a pyramid as you view this list. The bottom, the psychological stage, is the foundation for the rest.
- Self-actualization: creativity, morality, problem solving and spontaneity
- Esteem: confidence, respect by others and of others and achievement
- Belonging: friendship, family and relationships
- Safety: security of body, job, health, family and property
- Physiological: breathing, water, food and sleep
A church member who is struggling with debt and meeting basic needs will have a problem belonging to a church and creating relationships. Although there will be overlap between the levels, you should be able to see that when a person’s economic status is threatened, it can be difficult to be creative or even problem solve. Stewardship in the church is an important topic.
Scripture and Money
The Bible has a lot to say about finances. Proverbs has over 100 verses that directly relate to finances. Here’s a sampling:
- Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. –Proverbs 10:4
- Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. –Proverbs 16:8
- Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. –Proverbs 23:4
- There’s danger in putting up security for a stranger’s debt; it’s safer not to guarantee another person’s debt. –Proverbs 11:15
- Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and a fool. –Proverbs 19:1
- Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. –Proverbs 22:1
In the 40 parables attributed to Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, 17 of them dealt with finances. Although biblical scholars might want you to think that Jesus used things that people could easily relate to, it might be possible that Jesus knew money was important.
Financial Literacy for All Ages
The advice given in Proverbs is almost timely. Don’t be lazy. Don’t co-sign. Be honest. But let’s be honest. Finances today are much more complex than the biblical writers ever imagined. Judging by how many seniors get scammed out of money, financial literacy cannot end when a person turns a certain age. The Federal Trade Commission recently released a report that indicated millennials are more likely than seniors to fall for a scam. Kids who have grown up with computers are still not able to recognize when they’re vulnerable financially.
Churches benefit when members are financially healthy. A person who doesn’t have to work on Sunday may be more likely to attend service regularly. Families who aren’t struggling with debt can give more money in the offering. Financial literacy strengthens the community. Children whose parents can spend time helping with homework instead of working learn better. Financially stable families aren’t relying on the assistance network to provide basic needs. Faith-based organizations that support financial literacy help their members become emotionally, spiritually and physically stronger. Remember to mention financial literacy in April.