In this debut book, a minister supports a Virginia church’s financial literacy initiative.
Within a context of growing fiscal illiteracy in the United States—hitting African-American communities particularly hard after the recession of 2008-09—Taylor wants to build an argument for a “financial empowerment ministry.” The author, an associate minister, writes that “financial education and knowledge can be a motivating factor for African-American consumers to save and invest more of their incomes that can positively impact their churches, families and their communities.” Her research focuses on the First Agape Baptist Community of Faith in Alexandria, where an aging population, in combination with younger worshippers feeling constrained by indebtedness, had greatly affected the church’s monetary situation. By digging into the ministry of stewardship that the Rev. Dr. Daniel Lloyd Brown instituted, Taylor explores how preaching tithing practices had not only a tremendous impact on the church’s finances, but on congregants’ overall ability to manage their personal budgets as well. The author covers the basis in Scripture for preaching stewardship and tithing before explaining her methodology: a pre- and post-survey instrument measuring knowledge of both stewardship and debt management after church members’ participation in a financial literacy skills course. Taught by Taylor, the course was conducted over seven sessions, which alternated between praying, Scripture reading, worshipping, and applying biblical principles of stewardship to real-world debt problems, such as planning for long-range goals with an annual income of $24,000. The author also includes several helpful charts and graphs exploring her data, research, and the questionnaire tool used. In her meticulous book, Taylor asserts that “the church is responsible for empowering congregants” and promoting “spiritual, social, and financial growth opportunities to aid in the maturation of the believer.” The only things missing from her impressive argument are more reasoning and data to support the idea that the church is the best avenue for empowering the African-American community overall. But Taylor writes clearly and efficiently, contextualizing her efforts within the great financial and racial issues of the day and offering a practical solution that will greatly appeal to Christians across the country.
Although somewhat limited in scope, a lucid and well-researched look into solving problems facing African-American communities.