By Jason A. Smith
Leaders at several local places of worship say they hope a money-management program, in which they are participating, will have a positive impact on the finances, and overall lives, of their members.
The Financial Peace University course, taught by author and radio host, Dave Ramsey, will begin Sunday at 12:30 p.m., at Faith Fellowship Christian Church at 1850 Chambers Rd., in McDonough.
Ken Brown, a member of Faith Fellowship, is one of two facilitators who will present the program at the church. Brown said the concept of learning financial principles in a group setting appealed to him.
"The more people you have fighting for the same goal, the stronger you are," he said, adding that 11 couples and three singles have signed up for the course at Faith Fellowship. In addition, Brown said he appreciates Ramsey's desire to incorporate biblical financial principles in the course's content.
"There's no financial peace, unless you walk with the King of peace," Brown said. "[The course] helps you have a spiritual mindset about your money."
Another positive aspect of the Financial Peace program, Brown said, is the way it encourages dialogue between spouses about their finances.
"It helps me and my wife to communicate better," he explained. "We're not fighting about money. We're discussing it."
Turning Point Church, at 831 Pavilion Ct., in McDonough will host a video preview Monday for the 13-week Financial Peace program, in preparation for the first class on April 14. According Brad Post, pastoral assistant and facilitator of the program at Turning Point, approximately 10 families have signed up for the money-management seminars.
"It's always been a passion of the church, for people to be free of bondages," Post explained. "Debt is a huge bondage. We don't want people in the community or the congregation to have anything that holds them back from being able to do God's will."
The 13-week course, taught via DVD, covers financially-themed topics, such as saving for emergencies, budgeting, understanding investments and retirement planning.
According to a March 26 press release from the Dave Ramsey radio show, more than 400,000 families - through their churches, places of employment, military bases and other venues - have used the Financial Peace program to improve their financial pictures.
Post said the "baby steps" approach Ramsey uses in the courses, which advocates establishing a $1,000 emergency fund and eliminating smaller debts first, is instrumental in helping people improve their financial status.
"It's important, because people look at their debt load, and get overwhelmed," Post explained, adding that he hopes Financial Peace will help to "change people's mindset about money, and how to handle it."
"You should have a plan for your money, or your money is going to have a plan for you," he said.
The church will hold a free class about Financial Peace University April 27, at 12:45 p.m., at the Sheraton Gateway Atlanta Airport Hotel.
Another local church, which is finishing up its second offering of Financial Peace University, is Sharon Baptist Church, located at 536 N. Ola Rd., in McDonough.
According to program facilitator, Jim Slaughter, many of the 20 families who have taken the program have seen a dramatic improvement in their money-management skills.
"We've seen approximately $200,000 worth of debt paid off, and around $60,000 worth of savings put in the bank," Slaughter said. "We have also shredded, into tiny little bits, 102 credit cards, because we don't want to borrow money."
In addition, he said other positive results from the program are visible among his church's members.
"We are aware of at least three families whose marriages have been saved as a result of the class," he said. "If you take the money fights out of your marriage, it takes care of a lot of the problem."
Slaughter said he has also seen evidence of the program's impact on his own marriage to his wife of 15 years, Trixy.
"The first 10-12 years were pretty rough financially," he said. "I made some pretty dumb decisions, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"We make more decisions together, and because we've focused on a common goal, we are very close to achieving that goal."