In February 2017, the Christian Reformed Church in North America launched a new initiative, known as the Financial Shalom Project, to support and sustain pastors for ministry. The project was designed to meet the needs of a growing number of pastors who reported that debt and stress about finances were interfering with their ability to do ministry. In response to this need, Financial Shalom provides grants and financial stewardship training to pastors facing a variety of financial challenges.
To date, Financial Shalom has assisted more than 60 pastors and their families with grants for student loans, Christian school tuition, medical bills, mortgage payments, immigration fees, and credit card debt. “Our support grants have brought immediate financial relief for many pastors and their families,” said Holly Small, project manager of Financial Shalom. “But the sustaining piece of the project equips pastors for the journey ahead by also strengthening their financial knowledge.”
To do this, Financial Shalom provides complimentary financial management courses and personal financial consultation to all grant recipients, and to any pastor—regardless of financial situation. It also equips churches with healthy stewardship practices through church stewardship programs led by Barnabas Foundation in the United States and Christian Stewardship Services in Canada. These educational resources are intended and available for all pastors and churches.
When Cody Zuiderveen became an ordained Christian Reformed minister and was commissioned as a missionary with Resonate Global Mission, for example, he knew that his financial situation would change. This new position meant that he was now part of a pension plan and would also be earning foreign income.
Cody contacted Financial Shalom and received a financial planning grant, which covered the costs of his meetings with Eastown Financial, a local firm in Grand Rapids, Mich. Eastown Financial reviewed Cody’s income, budget, pension plan, and investments and provided him with advice.
“Eastown helped develop small steps that we can take each year to reach our financial goals . . . with their guidance, we were able to identify our savings sweet spot and design obtainable habits that will help us arrive there in the years to come,” said Cody.
Northside Community Church in Paterson, N.J., is another example. This past summer, the congregation had two church groups make use of Financial Shalom resources. Partnering with Crown Financial, Financial Shalom offered the church’s teen and young adult leadership and mentoring ministry a course specifically designed for young people called “God’s Way of Handling Money.”
The group of 10 young people met three times a week for one month to discuss the financial principles in the study. Reverend Sheila Holmes, pastor of Northside Community, said the study “was an eye-opener for our young adults to see how much the Bible refers to the use of money and how much God cares for them. It encouraged them to be more attentive and responsible with their money. We had two teens who opened a saving account with the money they earned for the summer.”
Additionally, 10 adults at Northside Community Church participated in Crown’s MoneyLife Personal Finance study, where they discussed saving, investing, and stewardship principles. One participant expressed amazement at how belief affects behavior within money management. The curriculum sparked such an interest in in the church that they offered the class again this fall.
The MoneyLife Personal Finance study is available in English and Spanish and can be accessed for free by all CRC pastors and churches. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you, your church, or your church’s youth group is interested in participating in this study.