Millennials and Money: 3 Ways Your Church Can Make an Impact
“‘Debt is saddling a generation, particularly the older end of this generation,’ said Douglas Boneparth, a 30-year-old certified financial planner with Life and Wealth Planning in New York City,” in a CNBC interview.
“According to a recent study by the online financial education site iQuantifi, the average debt load for those between the ages of 21 and 25 is $13,116. That debt load more than triples for those in their late 20s to $46,622. And the average total debt load is more than five times greater for older millennials in their 30s at $69,552.”
The majority of millennials had to pay their own way through college, relying primarily on student loans. When student loans were insufficient, many turned to credit cards for supplemental survival income. For the older millennials with family, adding a mortgage on top of credit cards and student loans increases stress exponentially.
Even with the debt, millennials are generous in giving. They donate time and money to causes close to their heart, where the mission is communicated clearly and they feel their money truly makes a difference.
When churches address stewardship and financial faithfulness, whether it’s through a month-long sermon series or special offerings throughout the year, they need to consider how their ask will be heard by millennials. How will the money be used? Is it going to support the general budget or people doing ministry in a majority-world country?
Jesus’ Nazareth proclamation (Luke 4) echoes the celebration of Jubilee found in Leviticus 25. The basic message of Jesus and Jubilee is freedom – all things restored and made whole. Is it possible that today’s church can help millennials achieve financial freedom? Here are three simple ideas for trying…
1) Host free round tables or seminars on budgeting, retirement, and paying down debt. Bring in financial specialists from the community to give millennials tools and hope in addressing these topics. If at all possible, be sure to provide free childcare.
2) One church works and worships together to pay off the debt of its members. For those who have experienced the freedom of having their debts forgiven, they get the chance to give and help others, too.
3) Make electronic giving an option. Many millennials simply don’t carry cash or write checks any more, taking care of all things financial through their debit cards and online transactions. Whether it’s having a tithe be a monthly automatic deduction or placing electronic kiosks in the church lobby, be sure to give millennials the opportunity to give online.
When churches think like an institution first, worrying about their bills and debts, hammering millennials with need over Kingdom vision, they will miss connecting with millennials. When churches see that money is another way to connect with and make new friends, the church can grow.