By Dan Flynn

In 2008 the Great Recession hit. I saw a tremendous amount of fear in our congregation as we worried about our own jobs and what the future would hold for us. The news was filled with dread as people lost their homes, companies were downsizing, and many were feeling displaced. I wondered what to do to attack the fear–my own fear included.

Right at this time I heard about Financial Peace University (FPU) and started to listen to founder Dave Ramsey on Christian radio. His call-in show really impacted me as I heard questions from all over the U.S. about finances. Our American culture lives off of debt, but Ramsey calls people to good stewardship: pay off your debt and celebrate through generosity.

So, in 2010 with Americans still stumbling through the economic downturn we offered FPU at Living Water. We had over 90 people from the congregation and community meet on Sunday mornings or during the week in homes. It was obvious that there was a need and people were hungering for healthy financial direction.

Gail and I took FPU and we set a plan in motion to bring orderliness to our money and be better stewards. We committed ourselves to helping our kids go to Calvin College, to working on paying down our mortgage, and to living within our means. (We did not have any outstanding credit card debt.)

The economy is better in 2014. I don’t hear as much about people losing their homes or  jobs. Yet, I know that financial stress hangs out there. It is so easy to be undisciplined and unaware of how to manage the money God grants us.

Amy and Bill Pemberton, members of St. Luke, share that neither of their parents did much to educate them on how to manage money. My parents didn’t, either; you kind of watch how your mom and dad manage their money and you typically model that behavior.

Frankly, this has created a debtor nation and tremendous stress on our families. But in helping me facilitate our class this fall, Amy and Bill are going to share how they stepped away from the stress and pain of debt.

Our kids have now graduated (and, yes, have jobs and we are tuition free), our mortgage is being aggressively paid off, and we are on the baby step of healthy retirement planning. Most importantly, our congregational giving has grown substantially.

I’m asking all of you to consider taking the nine-week Financial Peace University Class at St. Luke starting on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 6:30pm. Join us on the journey to strong financial health and honoring God with all that we have. You can register on the FPU website.