Adam J. Copeland, director of the Center for Stewardship at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., in the November cover story of The Lutheran magazine presents and corrects five myths about young adults and giving. In November, Living Lutheran highlights Copeland’s suggestions for turning these money myths into engaging ministry with young adults.

Young adults don’t want to talk about money.

When the leaders of Jacob’s Well, an ELCA congregation in Minneapolis popular with young adults, survey the congregation about themes for sermons, money is always among the top three requested topics. Pastor Greg Meyer explained why: “Money is a huge hurt in people’s lives. At best, it’s unused potential, but at worst it’s a deep place of pain.”

Sure, most young adults, like anyone, don’t want to be talked to about money. We don’t want people (some who make thousands more than we do and who grew up in different economic periods than we did) to lecture us about why we should give more and spend less. But this doesn’t mean we don’t want to talk about money. As the surveys at Jacob’s Well suggest, many young adults long to talk about money because money marks both pain and potential in our lives.

Correcting myth #1: Talk about money in real, honest and holistic ways.

Grace Duddy Pomroy, financial education specialist at Portico Benefit Services and a millennial herself, said many congregations aren’t doing enough to talk about stewardship and debt with young people.

“Many young adults long for an integrated approach to money,” Pomroy explained. “They don’t want to compartmentalize their lives between church and everything else. They want a place that connects the dots between the power of money in their lives and the power of God.”

When we do talk about money – and we must – church leaders should seek ways in which they can be vulnerable. Studies show that pastors carry plenty of debt themselves.

“I did the first sermon series on money, in part, because my wife and I needed it,” said Meyer. When pastors honestly admit they struggle with money themselves, this openness helps build trust with young adults.

Adam J. Copeland
Adam Copeland teaches at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., where he is director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders.

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