Elder Financial Abuse

Bernice Napach, a senior writer at ThinkAdvisor, recently wrote about “How Seniors and Their Adult Children Can Prevent Elder Financial Abuse.”   She writes that it is estimated that one in five seniors are a victim of financial abuse of about $37 billion a year.  But, most senior adults have not talked with their children about how they manage their resources.  ‘When you don’t have the conversation, seniors are more vulnerable,’ said Desari Mueller, a consultant for Wells Fargo Advisors.

Most seniors and their children believe that a stranger will take advantage of an elder. The sad truth is that two-thirds is by family, friends or trusted contacts according to a Jewish Council for the Aging study.

Wells Fargo Media suggests eight items seniors should complete for their later years:

  1. Organize documents and passwords
  2. Discuss with the family who will manage affairs
  3. Discuss inheritance plans with family
  4. Have a will
  5. Have an advance health care directive
  6. Have a power of attorney for health care
  7. Have a power of attorney for financial matters
  8. Tell the family how much money there is

A further set of protections:

  1. Direct deposit so others can’t cash checks
  2. Annual credit report checks
  3. Automatic bill pay so other aren’t writing checks
  4. Refuse to sign documents unless others have reviewed them
  5. “Trusted Contact” on file at financial firm/bank
  6. Checks or credit cards locked in cabinets
  7. Alerts of large transactions sent to others
  8. Copies of financial statements sent to others

The local church is positioned help seniors be good stewards of their resources and prevent elder financial abuse. Now is a good time to plan an awareness event for seniors and their families.


Money Study

The best recommendation I have for discussing money and possessions is Simple Rules for Money by James Harnish. It is based on Wesley’s instructions on earning, saving and giving money.  The book is readable, has only four chapters and comes with discussion helps at the end.  If you want to do more, you can purchase all kinds of materials under the title of Earn. Save. Give. by Harnish from Cokesbury.

All the resources available on money and possessions are worthless, if they are never used. If we really want folks to model God’s generosity, it will take time and effort.  The advertising industry is bombarding us with its message of spend, spend and spend some more every day.  And our peers are often modeling spend, spend and spend some more.  It is not easy to live a counter-culture lifestyle when it comes to money and possessions.

I encourage you to make plans today to begin a study or discussions clearly connecting money and faith.


Twiggy

A recent CBS Sunday Morning Program featured Twiggy. It is hard to believe that she is 68 years old.  Twiggy was discovered through her photograph in a hair salon. Someone working there agreed to do her hair, which ended up being cut very short. A photograph was made and hung there in the salon. The right person came into the salon and spotted the photograph. And the rest is history.

For you young folks out there, Twiggy was the epitome of the 60’s British Fashion world. She was thin, had short hair and large eyes. All the girls wanted to look like Twiggy in the day.  But she was smart enough not to rest on her laurels as a model.  Twiggy went on to star in films, theater and television. She recorded albums and wrote books.  She even has a clothing line today.

I write about Twiggy because she refused to be a one shot wonder. So many folks get caught up in their success that they never move on.  Suddenly, they are no longer relevant.  I think it happens in the church as well. We find something that works well, so we stick with it. Even when it is becoming clear that it doesn’t work very well in a new age, the church refuses to change. Then, the one shot wonder church begins to fade away and can’t understand why.

When was the last time your church was re-invented?


First Quarter Review

Numbers for the first quarter of 2018 should be ready for your finance committee and generosity team to review. What trends are evident compared to the previous two to three years? Is giving stable, rising or declining? What do you see about expenses?  The numbers should guide next steps.

Falling revenue with stable expenses might indicate the need to develop a better generosity plan beginning immediately. Falling revenue and rising expenses is a call for immediate generosity work and expense control. Rising revenue and stable expenses might be a call to expand mission and ministry. Rising revenue and rising expenses probably indicate an effective mission that invites generosity.

Yes, the finance committee is responsible for expenditures, but it also responsible for raising adequate funds.  Now is the time to explore the numbers and respond. Waiting and watching is only avoiding reality.


Planning for Financial Freedom

Financial freedom is not something that just happens. It requires a plan.  Carl Richards is the author of The One-Page Financial Plan, A Simple Way to Be Smart about Your Money. I will tell you that the ultimate plan has more than one page, but getting started really is one page.

 

Richards says that the biggest obstacle in financial planning is getting started. People are just overwhelmed with all of the choices, so they default to doing nothing. Some of the hesitancy is that people are afraid to face the truth about their finances. It is the old, “out of sight – out of mind” mentality. But financial freedom needs a beginning.

 

Richards suggests a one page starting point with the question of why? Why is money important? What is having money going to achieve in one’s life? Richards and his wife wrote down, “Time with family doing things we love.” The rest of plan was about decisions that relate to the “why.”

 

Today is a good day to begin a financial plan. Start with why. Then write down two to four major financial steps that will begin to move you there.


Generosity and New Generations

An article by Kate Taylor appeared a couple of months ago concerning the struggle of some restaurant chains struggling to reach younger dinners. The ones struggling the most are Ruby Tuesday, Applebee’s and Chili’s. Chili’s made the decision to cut 40% of their current menu items. The word is that most of these brands are dated and fail to reach younger generations.

The CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings is stepping down. Applebee’s is closing about 135 locations. The problem is that younger folks are doing more cooking at home and ordering food that is delivered to their homes. They just do not fit the model of Boomers and Gen-Xers.

I thought this speaks to our churches related to generosity. We are still stuck in a generosity model in most churches that is designed for the Builder and Boomer generations. We have to realize that in order for the church’s message of generosity to reach new generations, we need to change. The same old stuff is just not going to keep working.

The sad truth is that while restaurants work to adapt; churches seem content to fuss about the younger folks who just need to learn how things work in the church.


Looking at Your Church as an Outsider

Looking at Your Church as an Outsider

 

My work at the Foundation takes me to many different churches of various sizes across the Annual Conference. Few churches make it easy to find the right door to the office, the sanctuary or to restrooms in the building. Granted, in a small church the sanctuary entrance is easy to find, but finding the office door can be a challenge. In larger church buildings one can wander and wander trying to find the right door. Many do not even have a sign outside stating the correct time of worship each Sunday. Some still have old signs with incorrect worship information. And we really expect new people to feel welcome?

 

I usually check for a church website or Facebook page before visiting. Some have a presence and others do not. The United Methodist Church and the Annual Conference provide information about each congregation in Mississippi. It at least lists the pastor and location. Though, I have discovered that some addresses are not correct. Many churches have not taken the time to enter their worship times. Then there are churches that have not updated websites in months or years. It is better to have nothing than an outdated electronic presence, because this is usually the first place a first time visitor will check.

 

Once inside your building think about directional signs, cleanliness and timely materials. Bulletin boards featuring events from 2011 and 2012 do not inspire new persons. Again, displaying nothing is better than outdated information. Another issue is outdated door signs in the building. Do not leave a sign saying, “Nursery,” that is now a storage room. I think you get the idea.

 

Why not invite one or two key leaders to approach the church as an outsider?


Simplicity

Simplicity

 

Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline writes, “Christian simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style.” He goes on to say that without an inward reality simplicity will lead only to legalism. Foster pens, “because we lack a divine Center our need for security has led us into an insane attachment to things.” So we end up celebrating the lives of the rich and famous, while we ignore those who choose to live more simply for the sake of others.

 

Foster warns that simplicity is not to be confused with asceticism, which believes that the world and things of the world are evil. God created a good world for us. God intends for us to enjoy his abundant provision without making stuff into our god. Simplicity reminds us that seeking the kingdom of God first is where life is found. Anytime we seek stuff first it becomes idolatry.

 

Foster goes on to list ten outward expressions of simplicity:

  1. Buy things for their usefulness.
  2. Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
  3. Develop a habit of giving things away.
  4. Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
  5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
  6. Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.
  7. Look with skepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes.
  8. Use plain, honest speech.
  9. Reject that which breeds the oppression of others.
  10. Shun whatever would distract you from the goal of the Kingdom of God.

Executive Director

Lost in a Crowd

Lost in a Crowd

He went looking for community with those similar in age and lifestyle. He chose to sit near the front of the service, even arriving a little early. The hope was that someone would notice and speak. The space filled for worship. The worship was good, but no one spoke. No word of welcome or invitation to join them for Sunday school after the service.

He went the second week to the second service. Still not one person said, “Welcome, we are glad that you are here.” And then he even went to a Sunday school class the next Sunday. It was something of an adventure because there was no information on the website about classes nor anyone greeting guests to offer guidance. The first try was a class too young. The second try was the right age, but almost all couples. Then worship again. This time friends, who were a married couple, joined him. Some folks talked to the couple, but they ignored him.

He hasn’t given up yet in seeking community in a Christian setting, but the way is difficult. And we wonder why single, young adults tend to be absent from our services of worship and life in the church.