Long-time readers may recognize simplechristmas.org, a website that sneaks into the column about this time most years.
The site was inspired by a church emphasis on celebrating Simple Christmas, not hung up on unrealistic expectations, gifts or schedules – think Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – while encouraging more thought (and action) to the needs of those around us with very real needs. The concept moved me enough to keep the site updated myself.
Another aspect of simplifying the holidays, probably a very large concern for many, is making it through without wrecking your budget or going into debt when the bills start arriving in the mail. Advent Conspiracy (adventconspiracy.org) says this best with its slogan: “Spend Less, Give More.” Helps, such as Dave Ramsey’s “How to Set Up Your Christmas Budget” (tinyurl.com/DecBudget) let you go into the Christmas season setting budget and spending priorities
But, what about after Christmas?
Churches and libraries have a lot of similarities, I believe, because in their best moments, each is about service. I’m invested in libraries, having at one time led the church library program for the Missouri Baptist Convention and now working part-time at our local public library after obtaining my Masters in Library Science last year.
Recently I sat in a conference led by Sara Nielsen, the adult services manager of the St. Charles City-County Library in the suburbs of St. Louis (moneysmartweek.org).
Nielsen heads the library’s annual emphasis on all things financial based on Money Smart Week (moneysmartweek.org), an annual initiative of the American Library Association and Federal Reserve Bank (Chicago) set for March 30 – April 6 in 2019. The response has been strong enough to expand into Money Smart Month (moneysmartstlouis.org), with additional topics promoted throughout the year.
This is a wonderful way to put people of all ages in touch with the financial tools that surround them without the fear of being sold a product or service. That includes topics such as budgeting, home buying, insurance, investing, identity theft and financial and estate planning. For teens, there is training on finding and keeping a job.
Each month our church takes a benevolence offering for local needs of those living on the edge needing help with their rent, utilities and transportation. My office looks out over the Christian church next door, and the line of people that forms each week for their food pantry. There are constant needs that not only affect us, but also surround us.
It doesn’t take much imagination to see how the church could partner and participate in efforts such as this to ministrer in our communities. We can offer meeting space that could be used for meetings. Our congregations contain financial, health and legal professionals, small business owners and mechanics that have expertise to share.
Consider how your church can utilize and participate in partnerships such as this that can offer hope and possibilities to your community year-round.
Ken Satterfield, a former media specialist, is marketing coordinator for Word&Way.