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Biblical Financial Freedom
“Financial Freedom in 7 Weeks Plus” is a Bible-based course providing practical steps for financial breakthroughs. Biblical Giving and Spiritual Warfare training set this course apart…and it works every time!"

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How to build a debt-free legacy for my family and future generations?

Building A Debt-Free Legacy:
An Interview with Bill and Maureen Sitter

by Jason Cobb

In 2003 take your finances to a new level, Bill and Maureen Sitter deliver a balanced and biblical approach to debt free living. This past month I interviewed the authors of the tremendous resource, Bill and Maureen shared with me the history, ministry and impact of their course Financial Freedom In 7 Weeks Plus. Debt free living is possible. SAWorship.com considers it a privilege to share with you life changing principles that can change the pattern of your financial life forever. With the resource: Financial Freedom in 7 Weeks Plus, below is the interview that took place at SAWorship.com headquarters in San Antonio.

Question: Bill, give our audience some background on how you and Maureen got started with financial counseling and training, and what led you to publish your book: Financial Freedom in 7 Weeks Plus.

Bill: Over ten years ago, I was invited to be a co-leader along with an Elder Wayne Gordon at Eagle's Nest Christian Fellowship. We started teaching using some Christian finance materials that were available. We did some counseling through the church that really gave me a chance to plug into the area of need in the body of Christ that's exciting to me - helping people get freedom in the area of finances and get out of debt bondage. The more I studied, and the more we taught and counseled, the more this excited us. We started using fairly large classes at the church, conducting those two to three times a year, but that really wasn't producing the fruit that we wanted to see. We observed people getting excited about the classes, but we weren't seeing lasting changes in their life. So we realized that some kind of a small group program was needed, to really drive the ideas home to people who had a real need and serious interest in changing. The number of things that came together in God's plan was amazing. First, I had an opportunity to help another global ministry start writing a finance program. Then Maureen and I were finally released to write the complete book, on our own, and that was very exciting and humbling. The book, Financial Freedom in 7 Weeks Plus is a product of work that Maureen and I have done together over a period of about five years, to produce a stand alone text book, workbook, and leader's guide, all in one. Financial Freedom in 7 Weeks Plus can be used by a church and we feel the course works best in a small group environment.

This book can be used by individuals or couples, on their own. However, ideally it's used in a small group program, under the covering of a local church. We are not trying to create a separate ministry; this book is provided as a resource to local churches. The local church raises up their own leaders and they use the material in the book as a teaching guide and a small "focus group" workbook. They have everything they need. No other resource is required, and the book provides instructions on how to train their own leaders. That's the evolution, and we published around Christmas time, in 2002. We are now, as self-publishers, really getting this material out so that churches and other ministries can learn about it. The good news is that we have been using and refining the material in one form or another for over five years. We have a lot of testimonies, in the book and on the web site, that we know will excite people, because these are people who have been through this material and have had very good results.

Question: What is different about this book, and the 7-week course, as compared to other resources available?

Maureen: We use spiritual warfare. We do not know of others who use it, or use it as much. We identify the devil as the thief, per John 10:10, and we go after him as you'd go after any robber.

Bill: We really are trying to put Christians in position to do battle; in other words this is a fight, a fight to get it right in each area of our lives. The good news is God gave us a manual on how to do that, The Bible, and it didn't stop being effective 2000 years ago, it's relevant for today. As Maureen said, we want people to understand that you start by recognizing that everything we have came from God. God owns it all! Deuteronomy 8:18 tells us that God is the one who gives us our abilities, skills, and gifts, everything came from Him. We have to recognize, if we are a wonderful superstar athlete or if we are a blue-collar worker at a factory, that whatever skills we have, to do what we are doing, come from God. If we recognize that, then that's good. We start each of the 7 weekly focus group sessions by praising God and doing battle against Satan, that's one of the big distinctions. The other is that we teach that tithing is just the start of the giving plan not the end of it. We want people to have a heart for God so that as they read through the Psalms, Proverbs, Hebrews or many of books of the Bible, they'll see reinforcement for giving offerings and alms beyond the tithe.

Maureen: We usually give focus group members a large play dollar bill that has a heart on it, then another one with the word God in the heart. This encourages people to examine their own hearts to see whether God or money is first in our hearts. The whole point is that God wants our hearts, so it's all about the attitude of the heart. He has to do the heart surgery, we can teach it but God has to do the work, and He does it well. It is not effective to counsel or train one half of a married couple, it just doesn't bear much fruit. It's great that at least one person from the marriage wants to get it right; but in terms of finance, and other major decisions, God talks about one flesh. We have to come together as a married couple, if we are not in agreement in the area of finances, it's not going to work. In the book and in the weekly homework assignments, we ask married couples to do the homework together. For individuals they should get an accountability partner to help them; it works better and this can be a friend or family member.

Question: How would a church or ministry organize a 7-week focus group? And, is there a set of instructions for churches to use…leader's guide…forms?

Bill: The book is written so an individual can use it, anybody can pick it up. A couple that does not have access to a church, maybe they are living in a remote area, they can use this program and they can get good results. It was designed this way. It's really most effective when used in a church or a ministry where they actually adopt this as a workbook for small groups. Essentially the church community develops their own leaders and assistant leaders; we use the term Leaders In Training. We have leaders training other leaders under the local church's covering, training people who want to be in a small group environment. Probably 14 to 15 people in a group is a nice group size, and it might meet at a home, which we prefer, or you could have it a church or other remote location, as long as it's private. The leaders are committed to leading the group for seven consecutive weeks with weekly homework and they present the 7 weekly group teachings from Chapters 1-7.

At the end of the seven-week course, there is an accountability session. We ask people to complete this follow up session within 45 days after completing the course. They meet individually with their leaders to review their progress and review their spending plan forms. A church can initiate this program by contacting us. We would like them to know as much as they can about the course, or look at our web site. For out of town people, call us at our toll free number 1-800-392-9410. If you are within the City of San Antonio, you can call us at 210-651-5561. We'd love to talk to pastors, adult education leaders, or small group coordinators to help you get started with this program in your area. We do this as a ministry; this is not a business, and we feel that God has called us to this. We want to help spread this material around. We want the local church to be the one in control, I believe pastors really need to know that.

We suggest that offerings be taken during the weekly group sessions, the offerings should go wherever the local church decides. The offering doesn't come to us. How that all works is explained in the leader's section of the book to include report forms, etc.

Question: Bill, your book contrasts the world's view of "prosperity" with God's view?

Bill: We start with the understanding of what prosperity really is. I think there has been a lot of confusion on the subject of prosperity. A lot of people thought that if you wanted some lavish gift, say a luxury car, or a bigger house then all you had to do was "name it, and claim it" in the name of Jesus. Not that these possessions are bad, but God is not into lavishing us, just so we can be lavished. We define prosperity the way I think God views it. "Prosperity is having all the resources, the talent, ability, skills, relationships, and money we need to do everything God has called us to do." That's the key, what God has called us to do, not what we want to do, not what we feel like doing, not what our neighbor is doing. But what God has called us to do; for some people that's raising a family and providing for them in a godly way, for other people it may be missions, for other people it may be a career in business, music or sports. We have the right to believe that He will provide the resources we need. As long as we focus on what God has called us to do, we are bound to stay in balance. We must not get into greed nor should we have a poverty mentality. The Bible is full of verses, probably well over 2000 verses, that deal with money in some way, to include giving, debt, and stewardship. God obviously felt, in the Old and New Testament, that teaching on finances is relevant for today. We start with this enlightened understanding of prosperity, then we plug-in God's principles on tithing, and giving, debt repayment, planning and what we call the Spending Plan. All of these concepts are reinforced through the Word of God so we can stay in balance.

Question: Explain the flexible "spending plan" concept and how it differs from a "budget".

Maureen: People learn to make decisions on how they spend their money. Instead of having a budget, the spending plan is not something that's constricting them, but it is something that is freeing them up. They record their debts and bills and they project their family's needs. They decide how they want to allocate their money. They are free to move funds around, from category to category, it's flexible and they are in control.

Bill: We have a lot of fun in our half day seminars and with focus groups, because Maureen will beep me with a little noisemaker if I use the word "budget". We do not teach the word budget, because the word budget sounds like a diet, something that is imposed by other people. You get the feeling that if you cross the line, that you have blown the budget and you feel doomed. The whole concept of the flexible-spending plan, is that individuals or couples work through the workbook and build a complete financial plan for their family. These are all simple forms, there is no advanced math or college education required, no knowledge of computers, and you can do this all with a pencil. You learn how to record your debts, your assets, your liabilities; how to prepare a simple balance sheet and a net worth statement. Most couples, at first, think they could never prepare a balance sheet and net worth statement.

We also teach them how to develop a debt repayment plan and how to analyze their expenses on a monthly basis. I left out one key form, at the very beginning, the Income and Biblical Giving form people record how much they make, and how much they plan to give, then we go from there. That's the first piece of the eight forms in the basic spending plan. Finally, in week 7, there are monthly cash flow forms. All these forms feed one to the next, to the next. In the monthly cash flow analysis they actually see whether they have money left at the end of the month or month left at the end of the money. We teach how to go back and rework plans as a couple or as individuals or single parents with kids. As Maureen said, the plan is flexible and it's okay to move some money from one category to another. This all comes together to make what we call the flexible spending plan. The couple or individual or family is in control.

God expects from us what He expects from a business, for us to be in control and to look at all aspects of our business as good stewards. I believe God expects Bill and Maureen to be accountable just like a small company; we use the term Bill and Maureen, Inc. There is a mythical couple in the book, Bob and Mary Jones. We use two examples to show how Bob and Mary were doing things wrong and, in a year or so later, how they did things right, after getting wisdom from the course. This program gives people hope and easy examples to follow. We want to make the course really simple, if people say they forgot or that they had to miss a class, the information is in the book. It's similar in a way to the Bible, if you read the instructions the right answers will always come out. We know it works now because we have been testing this for five years, and we have observed a lot of excellent results.

The final chapter, that we added to make it a 7-week course, is called Keeping Track of God's Money; and this is an important chapter. We found out that, on paper, people sometimes estimated they were in good financial shape, but in fact, at the end of the month, they were in bad shape. The numbers in the monthly cash flow box may indicated that they should have money left, but it was not there. A lot of businesses have been in that same predicament. If people don't have the money they thought they should have, then where is it? The final or revised plan ends up being accurate because group members learn to readjust the plan and go forward. This is not something that you do once in life and never do it again. No, it is a life process.

Question: Can you comment on successes from this training? (Any testimonials)?

Bill: We try to make the seminar and our course fun; (the seminar is only a half a day). The devil is trying to keep people in doom and gloom. God has a good plan. People should get excited, even at the early stage, when they face-up to their debts and other obstacles, because they are starting on the road to Financial Freedom. They are going to get free if they stick with it.

Maureen came up with the "Breakthrough" form. The first part of each weekly homework assignment is to report on breakthroughs. Every week leaders hear of pay raises, interest rates being cut, supernatural increase, and so forth. That's why the first four pages of the book are full of testimonies, and those are repeated on our web site. We know there are going to be a lot more new testimonies as more people are taking the course right now. It's fun for us to see those testimonies when people take the time to tell us how this course has changed their lives. We are not surprised anymore because we know God's Word is true.

Maureen: God changes hearts, for example a husband in Houston, who was attending a focus group, came to the group and gave his wife a little jar with his credit cards all cut up. It was a classic breakthrough example. Previously he had his money and she had her money, they had separate checkbooks. The husband was a big spender, but in Week 5 he gave her his checkbook and this was a huge breakthrough. Now both have cut up the credit cards and there is one family checkbook.

Bill: This man's wife was visibly shaken; it was the first time in their whole-married life that they agreed to put everything together. That was so exciting to us because we knew then they were on the road to success.

Maureen: He asked her to write a check for the offering that night, she was physically shaking with excitement.

Bill: She had a hard time writing the check, before there was his checkbook and her checkbook, now it was their checkbook.

Maureen: You could just see the changes.

Bill: We don't have to have the testimonials to know that this works. But they sure do help, and they encourage people. When we do a seminar, we like to have recent course grads come to the seminar and present their testimony, and explain how the changes have impacted their family. This means a lot, it's one thing to have participated in the teaching, but it's another thing to have reinforcement from people, who are just like you and me, who have experienced success. We have one couple on the Southside of San Antonio who are now group leaders. They started with really no knowledge of finances, they admitted that openly. They now have taught several courses, and presented seminars, using our material in other churches, locally and in Austin. They have a wonderful testimony; they are on track not only to be debt free, but to do a whole lot more.

In the 7 week course we actually lead people through two different planning and goal setting exercises, so they can align their goals, their values, and their plans. We then get more specific and have them put a five-year plan together, so they realize that financial freedom does not happen overnight, it is a process. It is okay to plan for your future; God gives us encouragement and instruction to plan, that's rolled into this course as well. Everything taught in this course is backed up with scripture.

Question: Your web site is www.debtfreelegacy.com. What's the significance of the name?

Bill: As we were working on the course we were working with another ministry involved in marriages. One of the things we sensed strongly was that it is great to help somebody become debt free. The greatest reward is to see God blessing something, that you had a hand in doing for Him, helping his people become debt free. The real key is that God is a generational God and if this course is just for us today, then that's one thing. It's like salvation, if salvation is just for us then that's fine, but it isn't really God's plan. He wants our kids, our grandkids, our friends, and our parents to catch this Vision of a debt free legacy. We feel that www.debtfreelegacy.com is a great way to say that all this isn't just about us, it's about getting this right so we can train, teach and model this to other people. Even if people are not yet comfortable receiving the salvation message, they can see the reward of a successful life, a godly life, even if they do not understand it. If the world keeps seeing Christians experience true success, a good attitude, contentment, and being a good employee, a good boss, or a cheerful giver, then people will want to know more. They'll ask, what are you doing and how can I get that? We all admire those things even if we don't want to admit it. The very actions that we take, to change from an incorrect legacy to a godly legacy, are going to pass on a bright future to future generations. You can have an impact on hundred's of people over your lifetime with out ever knowing it, that is why our web site is called www.debtfreelegacy.com.

Question: What encouragement and hope can you give the readers of SAWorship.com?

Maureen: If people will take responsibility and commit to taking this course, to reading the book, and will apply what it instructs, along with following the Lord, then they should get out of debt.

Bill: God wants every person to have a blueprint for accomplishing what God has called them to do. We are trying to take God's Word, put it into real simple 2003 terminology; this will help the biblical principles come alive everyday. Whether they want to use our book or use some other Godly source, we want them to get a grip on the fact that part of being a good Christian, a good person, good father or mother, or family member is financial stewardship. It is important to learn how to take care of God's money, and to forget the term "my money", this term does not exist because we are called to be stewards of His resources. Psalm 50:10 makes it clear that God owns everything. We're like the branch manager of a bank, who does not own the bank but who stewards the banks resources for the board of directors and the stockholders. God wants us to be good branch managers. It's not hard, the hardest part is deciding to make the change and letting God be at the center of our hearts.

Be encouraged, becoming debt free is not unrealistic. With the wisdom and power of God and a willingness to change one's spending habits, becoming debt free can be a reality. If you are struggling in the area of finances, or you find yourself or family in a self-made financial mess; I would recommend looking further into this course. Consider bringing this course to your church. As a graduate of this course, God can change your situation. Be willing to renew your mind and act in obedience to God and His word.


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