Michelle Highman is the Chief Executive of The Money Charity - a national financial capability charity providing financial education, information and advice to young people & adults throughout the UK. Here she writes about the role that churches can play in talking about money and promoting positive financial capability at key life stages.
The church has always recognised the power of big changes to transform lives. Christenings, weddings, confirmations and funerals; from cradle to grave it provides social and spiritual meaning to those moments where you leave one stage of life and enter another.
It does this in part because it understands that long life stages are defined in these moments. Where day-to-day change is hard and usually eludes us, these moments are where commitments are made and habits are set. They are opportunities to change for the better, and we only have a handful of them. Crucially, all research on financial capability, points to these stages in our lives as also being key moments when we are most open to talking and thinking about money and our financial futures.
The Church of England, therefore, has a unique opportunity at the very moments people are building their lives to provide pastoral support and guidance which helps set the course to financial security.
The powerful concern the Church of England has shown over the issue of problem debt and financial hardship has already achieved a great deal, but more could be done to prevent these problems occurring and set every community member that the church serves on the path to a better, more positive relationship to money.
At the Money Charity we believe that everybody, whatever stage of life they’re in, can and should be on top of their money. This is not simply about people in financial hardship or avoiding debt problems, but building a positive and comfortable approach to money that can help people to achieve the important things in life.
This is why we deliver unique and inspiring financial education workshops to children and adults across the UK, work with the financial industry to improve practice and we influence policy makers, media and the public to understand and value financial capability.
Because it is there at the moments in people’s lives when it matters most, we believe that the Church can have a huge role in fostering the kind of positive financial capability we work for every day.
However it presents itself, the most important thing is to take the opportunity to start talking about money. As one of the country’s most important institutions, the Church of England ought to be at the heart of dealing with one of our biggest problems: our awkward taboo about money. It is only by normalising everyday conversations about money, and using those moments that church and community celebrates together, that we can truly break this down.
By doing so, we can meet head on the challenge of good money management, not just for the poor and the vulnerable, but for all of us.
We can help you do just that. The Money Charity website is packed full of useful tools and articles on all aspects of money management. In addition we have specifically tailored information for particular life stages, such as our Student MoneyManual for those at or just about to go to university . Or you might find the more generic adult MoneyManual helpful to kick start those conversations with congregants and community members.