Indiana Wesleyan University (Wesley Seminary)
Eddy Shigley, director of the Kern Ministry Program
On Jan. 22, we had the privilege of hosting Ron Blue as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by our Oikonomia Network program. Blue, author of 18 books on personal finance from a biblical perspective, including the bestseller “Master Your Money,” gave a two-hour lecture on “Biblical Financial Stewardship.” His presentation was a huge success, with almost 400 students, seminarians, faculty members, and local pastors in attendance. . Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) and Blue have created the Ron Blue Institute to help IWU become one of the key thought leaders on biblical principles in finance.
Blue emphasized that “the most objective measurement of spirituality is a person’s check book.” Money is not only a revealer of the heart, but also an entry into the heart. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). God doesn’t need my money; he wants my heart. Based on his 45 years of business financial advice, Blue estimates that only about five percent of Christians really understand money management and biblical financing. He defines biblical stewardship as “the use of God-given gifts and resources (time, talents, treasure, truth, and relationships) for the accomplishment of God-given goals and objectives.”
He emphasized that pastors must not only practice biblical financial stewardship personally, but also teach its principles to congregants. Blue believes our culture encourages us to spend more than we make, aggressively teaches us to be discontent, and attaches self-worth to material possessions. The by-product of such selfishness is uncontrollable debt, marginal giving, and negligible savings. He challenged pastors and others to teach the following principles:
- Spend less than you make.
- Credit card debt is foolish.
- Maintain liquidity and understand financial margin and savings.
- Set long-term financial goals that honor God.
- Invest wisely in markets, products, and people that produce large dividends, including eternal investments and dividends.
- Rejoice in generosity.
Blue believes that biblical financial principles are always right, will never change, and will always work. It was a pleasure to have such a distinguished person on campus to challenge our students to live financially according to the word of God, not the pattern of this world.
ON at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Craig Mitchell, associate professor of cultural studies
On Feb. 6-7, the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted its second annual Urban Economics and Ministry Conference. The idea for this event began two years ago, when our Oikonomia Network program greatly increased its outreach to a variety of constituencies. One of our discoveries was that many black pastors were looking for an alternative to black liberation theology when it came to economic issues. They knew there was something wrong with what they had been taught, and it became obvious we should do something to address this need.
At our first conference in March 2013, we had speakers such as Anthony Bradley of The King’s College; Tony Beckham, a noted business consultant and scholar; and Fred Luter, the first black president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). All of our speakers, myself included, affirmed the importance of a free-market approach to social ills. Fifty pastors, professors, and students attended, some of who were leaders of the African-American Fellowship of the SBC. Attendees told us they were impressed with the speakers and the event.
This year, Beckham and I returned along with Ryan Bomberger, founder and chief creative officer of the Radiance Foundation. We had 54 pastors, professors, and students in attendance. Those who attended were more than pleased with what they learned, and it was clear they wanted to learn more. Unfortunately, we made a critical mistake this year in timing. The African-American Fellowship had planned its annual meeting on the exact same days as our event! Consequently, attendance at our event did not increase as much as we had anticipated.
Despite this missed opportunity, we have been pleased to find that some of the pastors who participated are already incorporating ideas from the conference into their ministries. Some are working to bring speakers from the conference to their own events.