In addition to being the founder of Faithonomics, you are also an ordained Baptist pastor and the director of admissions and enrollment management at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. How did your work in those roles help to spark or shape your idea for Faithonomics? And when did you realize this was a real need?
Prior to my ordination and the start of my tenure at Wake Divinity, I believed my own personal struggles around finances, money, and shame were isolated to my lived experience alone. Everyone around me seemed to have it all together! Yet, here I was struggling to make ends meet month-to-month and I had come to a point where I believed I’d be one of those millennials who would always rent because they could never afford to own, who would die with debt, and who looked at retirement as something comical because let’s be honest, how was I ever going to be able to afford to retire?
At the peak of this mindset, I was brought on at Wake Forest University School of Divinity as the director of ministry and vocational exploration to aid prospective students in their discernment around vocation and calling. In this position, I began to see how much anxiety and shame aspiring faith leaders had around money. From students refusing to talk about money at all to falling back on toxic interpretations of bad theology, I finally understood that I was not alone, but part of a larger systematic issue that needed to be addressed. This unveiling alongside my call to ordination and deep understanding of vocation prompted the idea of Faithonomics. Call me crazy, but I don’t believe that God calls us to a life of poverty, financial stress, and money shame.
Earlier this year you officially launched your venture Faithonomics. What was that process like? And how much did your vision or offerings for Faithonomic change, if any, due to current times?
Honestly, it was quite terrifying. I had to get over my imposter syndrome real quick! And this was just a soft launch in order to start building credibility and awareness prior to the launch of the full Faithonomics+ platform during the 2022-2023 school year. The process very much was a dream big, review capacity, and scale back model. And this is something that I am continuing to do today. For example, is the editing of a weekly newsletter the best use of my creative energy or can that shift to a monthly offering? The process of launching a venture is more than the idea and the logistics. It is a reconfiguring of your own identity from aspiring entrepreneur to actually being an entrepreneur.
In August, you began your journey through the 2021 DO GOOD X startup accelerator. What’s your experience been so far and what new discoveries have you made about yourself as an entrepreneur and/or your venture?
The primary reason I wanted to be a part of the DO GOOD X Startup Accelerator was for the authentic and diverse community. Although we have just begun our journey, this is what excites me most. From my accountability partner Beulah to my mentor Kevin, I have no desire to be in an echo chamber. Therefore, I welcome their perspectives, insights, and imaginings into my journey. Already, this community has taught me that my voice matters, my idea matters, and that God has placed this call upon my life and together we will see that call come to fruition.
What’s one business challenge you want to overcome or begin to overcome by the end of the accelerator program?
Finances. Ironic, I know. Although I am now very comfortable with personal finances I still need to grow my understanding of corporate finance. From how to do financial forecasting and price structuring to creating a workable budget that doesn’t undercut the effectiveness of any business function. I recognize I still have a lot to learn and hope to have gained some workable knowledge by the end of this accelerator.
As an entrepreneur offering financial literacy resources/services to future faith leaders in higher education, what is your biggest hope for the future of the academy and Faithonomics?
My hope is that money becomes a healthy and common topic of conversation at the dinner table. Our culture has demonized talking about money openly. In turn, this has allowed for injustice and inequities to thrive. When coworkers don’t know each other’s salaries, pay inequity is allowed to exist. When pastors are too embarrassed to preach about money, someone in their congregation who is struggling with money feels more isolated. When wealth AND poverty are not questioned, systems of economic injustice become more efficient. My hope is to change this and if you ever need someone to talk money with, let’s grab dinner together.