Living the Plan --Adviser crusades to cut personal and church debt

2/19/2010

Mike Wiley of the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation

Mike Wiley of the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation

"Make all you can; save all you can; give all you can."—John Wesley

By Holly McCray

One of Mike Wiley’s recent success stories is from Stillwater-First UMC, where he taught Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

Class participants paid off more than $200,000 of their debts.

Can I get an amen?

Wiley’s expertise provides an additional way for the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation to assist people and churches with good financial stewardship. From Texas, Wiley joined the Foundation staff in January 2009.

He talked about his personal debt journey and his Foundation work when he introduced the Ramsey course in January to employees at the United Methodist Ministry Center, Oklahoma City.

Within any congregation, a "vast majority" spends more than they earn, Wiley said.

Overspending "is impacting families and marriages. It’s impacting lives spiritually. It’s time for the children of God to become debt-free," he declared.

The Foundation has developed a game plan to help Oklahomans achieve that goal, in partnership with churches. Called EQUIP, it will launch training with events March 11 in Oklahoma City and March 25 in Tulsa. Wiley is the coach, and Ramsey’s 13-week course is part of the curriculum.

A Foundation informational packet about the plan poses this question: "What could the people of God do for the Kingdom of God if they were all debt-free?"

Also from the packet: "EQUIP is a plan to completely revolutionize the way our church members handle God’s money. It’s about creating a church filled with passionate, cheerful givers! It’s about pastors who are freed to achieve the vision God has given them for their churches. It is teaching people to truly be doers of the Word in the area of money and possessions. It’s an ongoing journey that takes hard work, with results that are rewarding and lasting."

A leadership team in each church will include the senior pastor. Prayer, education, and promotion/celebration will be some of the group’s responsibilities. Planning will culminate in offering Financial Peace University to a majority of the congregation.

Leaders will not have to be certified in the Ramsey program, Wiley noted. With the DVD and other resources provided through EQUIP, "you could be a rookie and lead the class," he said.

He also pointed out that Financial Peace University students do not have to divulge private financial information.

EQUIP is one aspect of Wiley’s responsibility as senior adviser at the Foundation. Another major role is consultation with churches on their indebtedness and building projects and in their stewardship efforts. Wiley’s advisory work is free of charge, and he assists churches of all sizes.

"He has been received very well by numerous church committees and is providing a service that has long been needed by our Conference," said Foundation President Bill Junk.

"Some of the stories he tells me are good news, and some are not; some really open my eyes. We are clearly seeing that Mike should be involved on the front end of any church building and fund-raising program so that church has a better chance of not winding up in a situation that is too deep to handle."

He continued, "Mike comes with a tremendous background for this work and has a real heart for ministry."

Wiley said he wants to have "Kingdom-changing conversations" with churches about debt. He advises churches to be proactive about financing to realize their visions for construction projects. Two churches that did, with his assistance, are Edmond Chinese International and Cookson UMC.

Wiley advocates a three-year fund-raising timeline and teaches a specific cash-flow model to help a congregation make decisions about its financial path. He wants a church to manage its building debt as it does any other line item in its budget.

"It’s not fair to have to take money from VBS or choir to meet your building debt," he commented. "Manage your debt; don’t let your debt manage you."

Previously Wiley worked in commercial lending and with the Texas Methodist Foundation. He was a pastor for six years. He is a graduate of the Disney Keys to Excellence program. His volunteer interests include a therapeutic horseback riding program for children. He and his wife, Julie Ann, live in Edmond. They have two children and several grandchildren.

To contact Wiley: mwiley@okumf.org; 800-259-6863, 405-525-6863.


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