The idea for the Green Couch Exchange, a new podcast and video series, goes all the way back to the beginnings of the Financial Leadership for Ministry (FLM) program in 2012. We found that most students who graduate from seminary have very few classes geared towards financial leadership. And so we were trying to make sure that our students have a course that speaks directly to that disparity.
When we began the Financial Leadership for Ministry program, we wanted to bridge and really investigate the intersections of faith, money and theology. We wanted to have conversations with students, give them practical tools that would help them in their personal lives and in church administration.
Over time, FLM has evolved. We started with a required course for all new students, and made it mandatory that students meet with a financial advisor in order to plan out how they are going to pay for school, and if they are doing student loans, what that payment will look like. We also hosted bi-annual conferences for clergy, and we recruited a group of financial advisors that were committed to sharing their expertise and were dedicated to the mission of FLM through providing services. We are also currently working on developing a certificate program.
We realized that our students needed a consistent resource that they could go to, and they also needed to be engaging in conversations on a regular basis. When we were having workshops before, we were doing it biannually, and by the time we saw participants gain, they’d tell us they didn’t have the accountability they needed. So we started hosting monthly workshops, and discovered that they were helping with accountability. This past spring, we partnered with the Faith and Money Network through our relationship with Billy Vaughan and the Center for Faith and Imagination to host an immersive class around Faith and Money.
Now, as we begin our new project, the Green Couch Exchange, we want to provide a platform for the faith community to begin engaging in open dialogue about topics of faith, theology, and money that we normally don’t talk about. That’s including scriptures and different doctrines, as well as practical ways like developing a church budget, and how the budget needs to fall in line with your mission. We also want to connect our audience with different resources and keep our participants engaged in the work of financial leadership, not only in their faith community but also personally in their home.
So we’ll invite people to the Green Couch Exchange in order to engage in a dialogue and talk about different things. We may just talk about scripture, or we may talk about the economic impact that the pandemic is having on congregations. We hope to be a resource where faith leaders can have conversations about things that can be hard to talk about. We welcome everybody to the Green Couch Exchange. Students, preachers, faith leaders, members of congregations, trustees, and stewards. We want to engage with people and help them define how they view money, not as a source, but as a resource to use to carry out mission, even in their households. And so the target audience is really whosoever will. Whosoever wants to come and become not only enlightened, but hopefully empowered.
–Rev. Fekecia Gunn, Director of Enrollment