Note: Through the Oaks Project at MCUTS, we’re seeking to better equip our students and the broader community to serve Christ by welcoming and walking with the economically poor. If you’re interested in getting certified to lead Faith & Finances, you can audit our course that meets Thursday nights from 6-10 p.m. from November 10th-December 15th. Cost is $350 for auditors. Contact Michael Rhodes at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested. Below, we share some of the stories from our students who led Faith & Finances this past year.
Faith & Finances
Last November, we helped 14 students improve their own finances and certified them to lead Faith & Finances, the Chalmers Center’s faith-based financial education program designed specifically for low-income neighbors and neighborhoods (The Chalmers Center is a leading Christian community development research and training organization, as well as the folks behind the book When Helping Hurts). Today, 10 of those facilitators have helped lead 6 new Faith & Finances classes held in churches and non-profits all over the city. 5 of these facilitators were traditional MCUTS students who earned 6 hours of college credit in the process. Here are some highlights:
- “We saved $500 dollars without being touched,” said one couple who went through a Faith & Finances class led by one of our students. “Me and my husband have also learned to communicate more about finances.”Since taking the class, this couple has tackled their debt head-on, and is working to improve their credit so they can purchase a home for their growing family.
- One facilitator led Faith & Finances in a large suburban church that didn’t really fit the typical Faith & Finances context. Jesus used the class to bring to light that one young man had become homeless, and used the community created by the class to help that man find housing, a better work arrangement, and to begin putting his life back together.
- Another facilitator led the class at an inpatient recovery center. A former addict herself and self-proclaimed recovering shopaholic, this facilitator created a real bond with her students. When this facilitator’s sister died, two of the class participants came to her house and said: “You cared for us in class. Now we’re going to care for you.” They mourned with her, washed her dishes, cleaned her house, and prayed with her. “I was their facilitator at the beginning. They became mine when I needed them,” she said.
It’s easy for financial literacy classes to deteriorate into shaming the economically poor. But because our MCUTS facilitators had themselves improved their own financial practices through taking the course, they facilitated their classes as fellow learners. Their classes felt almost like an AA group, where everybody knows they’ve got problems and that they need one another to overcome them. Facilitators and students celebrated life change together . . . sometimes with dollar-decorated cupcakes! This is what Christian community development is all about.