Story Magazine - Spring/Summer, 2012

Financial coaching: Creating confident stewardship leaders

The church is calling strong stewardship leaders--leaders who will not only tend the needs of the individuals in their congregations but those of the larger church. At Luther Seminary, we believe that stewardship education should be pervasive, integrated into the very core of Luther Seminary's curriculum and culture.

This strong belief in the importance of stewardship, as well as the church's call for strong stewardship leaders, led to the creation of the financial coaching program.

Since the Center for Stewardship Leaders started the financial coaching program eight years ago, approximately 120 coaches have helped more than 400 students become financially healthy and confident stewardship leaders.

Through the program, students are matched with a financial coach who will help them with everything from planning a budget to developing a framework to lead their congregation's stewardship initiatives. Most of the financial coaches are business professionals dedicated to supporting the preparation of church leaders.

Josh Stibb, a Master of Divinity middler, has been deeply impacted by the program. "Everything my financial coach is doing is dovetailing nicely with my classes," Stibb said.

Stibb's coach, Orv Johnson, a retired business professional, partnered with Josh to help him reach his financial goals.

"We have explored Josh's goals, including debt repayment and becoming a stewardship leader in the congregation he serves," Johnson said. "In our final session before Josh's internship, we will look at a typical set of church financial statements," said Johnson.

"I trust that as Josh gains confidence in his ability to plan, budget and manage his own finances, he will feel comfortable preaching and teaching biblical stewardship. When he becomes a parish minister, he will not feel intimidated in discussions about church finances."

Charles "Chick" Lane, director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders, sees opportunities for growth of the program not only in continuing to increase the number of coaches, but also investing in ongoing training for the coaches.

"We don't want to plateau," Lane said. "We want to keep growing, numerically and in the depth of what we provide."


How financial coaching prepares effective stewardship leaders

Luther Seminary's financial coaching program has been so effective that all ELCA seminaries have created similar programs. Luther Seminary has been a vital partner in helping its seven sister seminaries develop their financial coaching programs.

Students will leave seminary with less debt, which enables them to serve where the church most needs them. Those who have a financial coach are more attentive to their financial life than those who do not have a coach.

Student will be more confident financially. They will be more comfortable talking about money with their congregations and will have the skills to handle money.

Students will be prepared stewardship leaders. They will have training to prepare them to confidently manage church finances.