In light of our recent posts on college debt, two things are very clear:
- 1. We need to learn how to shepherd/lead each other on how to get out of debt.
- 2. We need to learn how to shepherd/lead each other on how to avoid debt in the first place.
As believers, we have a responsibility to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), but how far does this truly go? Should we actually carry one another’s financial burden? Should we actually consider helping members of the body of Christ in order to alleviate their debt load? Or is the debt load they carry just their own responsibility and a consequence of their decision-making?
The Church today needs to desperately consider how to shepherd people out of student debt. But, just as important, if not more so, is the responsibility the Church has today to shepherd people through the process of going into student debt. Too many young people in the churches throughout America are being left to navigate the waters of financing higher education on their own. The same students who only qualify for a $500-$1,000 credit card limit are able to qualify for tens of thousands in student loans. And they are doing so without much instruction.
Unfortunately, there is a less than cautious approach to considering a college/university. All too often an attitude of entitlement is exposed through the process of choosing a school. Rather than carefully weighing the cost, students make decisions based upon desire and hope instead of wisdom. Sometimes students and parents need to be told that certain schools are simply not a good fit financially.
Student debt is also having a tremendous impact upon God’s church. A friend of mine recently took a survey of roughly 25 people from his home church. Of the 25 there were 10 or 11 couples and a few single people with an average age in the early 30s. This group combined had over $470, 000 in student loan debt. It is daunting to consider how much student debt has been accumulated in churches throughout the country and then reflect on how all of those resources could be used.
In addition to debt affecting local churches, student debt is also having a global impact. The primary reason mission agencies are now turning away applicants is because of student debt. One such missions agency just rescinded their Bible requirement. When asked why they did this, the agency simply stated that they got tired of requiring a certain number of units in Bible knowing that those units were often contributing to the debt load of the applicants. It just seemed to be a more viable option to drop a Bible requirement and try to provide training for missionaries while on the field, through the mission.
Should the church continue to turn a blind eye to this issue? Or even worse, should the church continue to unwittingly encourage this? Or should the church actively engage the issue and actually shepherd people through all aspects of student debt?