Statistics show that Americans spend $1.20 for every dollar they earn and have $600 billion in credit card debt, averaging nearly $8,300 per family. Americans are saving at a level of only about 2.2 percent and giving through the local church is at an all-time low of just 2.6 percent.
In response to the current money management crisis, Ken Hemphill has written a third installment to the Southern Baptist Convention's Empowering Kingdom Growth vision titled Making Change: A Transformational Guide to Christian Money Management, published by Broadman & Holman.
The national strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth, Hemphill sets forth a thirty-day journey into biblical stewardship, personal money management, and cooperative giving for the purposes of world missions and theological education.
Making Change will have a liberating impact on families and churches, Hemphill told Baptist Press, as they apply the principles of God's Word to their finances.
"Some studies indicate that less than 25 percent of the persons who attend church give anything to the church for Kingdom advance," Hemphill said. "Those who do, give only give 2.5 percent of their income through the church. Can you imagine what would happen if half of our people begin to tithe? The average church budget would be multiplied by a factor of eight.
"Do you think your church could become more effective if you multiplied your existing budget by eight?" Hemphill asked. "Can you imagine what would happen to our seminaries and our mission boards as that increase begins to flow to our partners for mission advance? It is staggering to imagine. We could have the resources to complete the Great Commission in this generation."
Ashley Clayton, associate vice president for stewardship at the Executive Committee, told Baptist Press the new department will use Making Change as one of its primary resources for the It's a New Day national stewardship initiative.
"Imagine what churches could do for the Kingdom if their members were not burdened with debt," Clayton said. "Imagine what could be done if church members were free to do the ministry that God has called each of us to fulfill."
Making Change differs from popular personal money management books, Clayton said, because it offers an understanding of cooperative missions on the state, national, and international levels through Cooperative Program initiatives.
Hemphill told BP he received the assignment to write Making Change from Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman, and as he began researching for it, he became increasingly excited about its content and potential.
"If we understand that all the resources on earth were placed here by the King to be used according to His principles and for His purpose, everything about life is altered," Hemphill said. "First, it gives us the assurance that He will provide sufficient resources for the meeting of our need and the advancing of His Kingdom. Second, it affirms that we must discover and put into practice the principles He established for the use of His resources.
"Third, it assures us that sufficient resources exist to reach the nations. The King designed everything with that goal in mind," Hemphill added. "Fourth, it reminds us that we will be held accountable for the use of the King's resources. I am overwhelmed by the very idea that the King loves me enough to entrust me with His resources and will use me to advance His Kingdom."
Chapman wrote the book's foreword.
"Making Change has the potential to lead you to a rewarding new life unburdened by our culture's obsession with credit cards and oversized mortgages," Chapman wrote. "The topic of stewardship is one of the most overlooked and underutilized teachings in the Bible. Consequently, we are living in a generation that owes its soul to company stores and financial institutions."
Conservative estimates say that 15 percent of Jesus' teachings focused on finances, Chapman said. He added that the financial wisdom found in the Bible is greater than what is found in Fortune, Forbes, Money Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.
John Yeats, recording secretary for the Southern Baptist Convention and director of communications for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, in a review of Making Change, noted that the onset of the "seeker-friendly" movement has led too many pastors to stop discussing money from the pulpit.
"As a guide to address the issue of finances, Making Change is a frontal assault on the individualistic consumerism of the culture and a call for Christians to return to the high ground of living biblical principles regarding their finances," Yeats wrote. "Many of Hemphill's precepts have needed to be said for years."
The book is organized as a six-week study with readings for five days a week on topics such as God's design for managing money; the purpose of money; earning, spending, saving, investing; and good reasons to be a giver.
A forty-day Making Change workbook will be available from LifeWay Christian Resources next spring for use individually and in church groups.
"We must be both honest and candid — we are not committed to reaching the world until we are willing to allow God to provide the resources through us," Hemphill wrote.
Also among the EKG vision resources are a forty-day study by Hemphill titled The Heartbeat of God and a second multi-week study by Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association, titled The Acts 1:8 Challenge: Empowering the Church To Be On Mission.
Making Change: A Transformational Guide to Christian Money Management is available at LifeWay Christian Stores and online at www.LifeWayStores.com.