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Faith-based seminars on debt in high demand

Steve Diggs calls it “the great secret sin of the church.”
As many as three-fourths of church members struggle with finances, and many younger Christians never learned to give, he warns.
But an increasing number of congregations are reaching out to help, offering programs such as Diggs’ ‘No Debt No Sweat!’ and Dave Ramsey’s ‘Financial Peace University.’
‘My heart and spirit are soaring!’ declares one Christian wife helped by such efforts.
TULSA, OKLA. — In white churches and black, conservative congregations and liberal, Steve Diggs dares to suggest that many of those happy Christians slapping backs on Sunday are hiding something.

As the “No Debt No Sweat!” guru sees it, the money-grubbing devil is laughing all the way to the bank.

“A lot of us have learned to play the church game – to pop on a mask and pretend everything is OK,” the 52-year-old minister tells the crowd at the Carbondale church on a recent Wednesday night.

But everything is not OK, argue Diggs and other church leaders fighting a consumption-oriented culture taught to buy it now and pay for it later – with no interest for 90 days!

It’s almost as if the Constitution guarantees life, liberty and the pursuit of high-definition TVs, regardless of one’s ability to pay.

“I tell people everywhere I go that money troubles are the great secret sin of the church,” Diggs said in an interview with The Christian Chronicle.

When he started offering financial seminars in 2002, he told his overseeing elders at the Antioch, Tenn., church he thought he could do 10 to 15 a year if he tried hard.

Instead, his 60-hour-a-week ministry has kept him traveling 40 to 50 weeks a year.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the messenger,” said Diggs, whose Carbondale seminar marked No. 147. “It’s about the message.”

Carbondale member Doyle Black, 58, said he wished he could have heard Diggs’ advice sooner. Black said he’s a spender and his wife’s a saver. When they married, he said, he had boats, motorcycles, a TV set and a recliner. She had cash.

“I’d really like to see lessons brought on Christian stewardship even more in the worship service settings,” he said.

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