We recently made an announcement that we are partnering with a company called Financial Planning Ministry, offering no-cost estate planning (both education and documents) to the Valley Christian community. Although we put a page together that answers most questions our community has had thus far, I wanted to take a few moments to provide additional transparency and an inside look at our intentions with the FPM partnership. There are 3 primary reasons we partnered with FPM:
- Our belief in godly stewardship
- The importance of having an estate plan
- To encourage generosity towards VCJH
OUR BELIEF IN GODLY STEWARDSHIP
As a school, we believe strongly in the biblical concept of stewardship: that is, that everything we have belongs to the Lord. Psalm 24 says that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
We believe that we are accountable for our entire existence – our finances, our possessions, our time, and our talents. Because of this, we don’t simply give God a percentage our our time/talent/treasure, and then hold tightly to the rest as our own. Instead, we steward (dutifully administer someone else’s possessions, time, or gifts) what God has given us with an open hand, continually seeking to be generous as He is generous.
We genuinely care about the hearts of our community. The book Revolution in Generosity sums it up well:
When fundraisers for Christian organizations talk about why people should contribute financial support, they have the opportunity to explain that these works are concrete manifestations of the values and vision of their faith (P. 42)… Exemplary organizations allow space and time for God’s work in individual hearts. In this way, they help donors find great joy and satisfaction in their giving (P. 85).
Ultimately, our belief is that all that we have is the Lord’s, we are accountable for what we do with what He has given us, and we promote and encourage godly stewardship both internally and externally.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING AN ESTATE PLAN
Ask any financial advisor about estate planning, and no doubt you’ll be encouraged to put one together. And while people generally agree that it’s important to have an estate plan, 60% of people in the US die without a will, and 90% die with just a will or no estate plan at all.
Most people know it’s something they should do, but the legal system can be intimidating and costly. As much as we don’t want to think about dying, or as much as we’d like to continue putting it off, there is no better time than the present to make sure your legacy and your future is cared for properly.
As stewards of what God has entrusted to us, we believe Christians should spell out what happens to their children, their assets, and their own health care and personal care decisions as they near or reach the end of their life. Part of the stewardship training FPM provides is to explain how various estate planning documents work and how a living trust estate plan will save significant costs in probate—by staying out of probate. Their goal is not simply to create wills and trusts; they want people to understand the stewardship opportunity available in a living trust.
If you have a family and minor children, you certainly want to designate who the guardians would be for those children if something should happen to the parents. And whether you have significant assets or you’re just starting out, you should have a written plan for where your assets will go.
TO ENCOURAGE GENEROSITY TOWARDS VCJH
We believe that our partnership with FPM will also result in additional generosity towards VCJH. Although there is no cost to our community to receive estate planning education and documents from FPM, there is a cost to Valley Christian. Because we believe that a majority of FPM seminar attendees will demonstrate generosity to VCJH as part of their estate, we believe that our investment in the families in our community by providing this service will more than pay for itself as gifts from our community make their way back to the school.
We want to be very transparent about our intentions: it is not required that you (or anyone else who sets up their estate plan through FPM) include Valley Christian (or any other Christian organization) in your estate plan… but we hope you do. Some donors choose to give a fixed dollar amount to organizations as part of their estate plan; some give a percentage (5%, 10%, or more); some give nothing. Whichever you are, you are welcome and invited to be a part of this process!
In the short-term, we believe that we are investing into the lives of our community members by providing a critical service.
In the long-term, we believe we are investing into the future of Valley Christian Junior High by encouraging generosity and stewardship among our community members, while continuing to invest into the lives of our community members through this service.
If you have any questions about this partnership, about stewardship, or about Valley Christian Junior High, please do not hesitate to contact me. March 19, 2016 is our first Financial Planning Ministry seminar, but there will be at least one and perhaps two others during 2016. We’d love to have you at the first seminar, but invite you to join us at any of the seminars throughout the year.
For His glory,
Troy A. Thelen ’03