We're two weeks into Coin: Jesus on Money, our journey exploring how Jesus interacted with money and how we might seek to follow Jesus with our own money. When we look at the teachings and actions of Jesus, it seems that money functions in (at least) three ways:
- A window into deeper things.
- A tool for our cultivation.
- A resource for weaving heaven and earth together again.
We're taking time to dig in and explore these primarily through our Gathering teachings (each week's teaching will be posted here) and two of our winter Circles following Mark Scandrette's book Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most.
If you're not able to join one of the Free Circles, we encourage you to grab a copy of the book and work through it on your own or (ideally) with another person. Throughout the Circles, we'll post a few blog updates and stories if you want to follow along with the journey.
In addition to Free, here's a few other resources to consider reading and engaging if you want to dig deeper. [Note: I'll be reading through all of these and posting some thoughts. If you'll be reading along, let me know and I'd love to have you engage in the conversation. -dave]
- Christians in an Age of Wealth by Craig Blomberg. Blomberg surveys scriptural passages focused on wealth and develops a Biblical theology of wealth and stewardship.
- Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire by William Cavanaugh. Like Blomberg, Cavanaugh's book asks questions about wealth and stewardship but this book is more philosophical and delves into questions about market economy, consumerism, and human desire.
- Stewards of Wealth Streams: Four Silicon Valley residents who are wielding their region's capital for good. An article by Roxanne Stone published in Christianity Today featuring Pamela Wilhelms, local business consultant and friend of Open Door.
Do you have any other resources you'd recommend as we think and ask questions about money, economy, and walking in the way of Jesus? Add them below in the comments!
On Sunday, April 13th, we'll launch the final of The Lent Project's 6 Practices of Intentional Denial: The Extras Purge. During this week, we're inviting our community to take an inventory of all of your belongings. How many extra coats, shoes, appliances, electronics, shirts, pants, dishes & pans, etc. do you have? Face your excess and live generously as you purge your extras. Perhaps you could initiate an exchange with other friends, donate your extras or give them away. Perhaps you could pool your extras together with those in our Circle and host a garage sale. Perhaps we could take an inventory of the surplus of Open Door’s extras so that we could meet tangible needs of those within Open Door as well as those we’re connected with. If money is raised, what will you do with it? How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others?
Here are some creative ideas for what you could do with your extras:
- Host a garage sale by yourself or coordinate one with your Circle or your neighborhood. Pool the proceeds together with your Circle or others and contribute it to a kingdom-weaving cause that you believe in.
- Donate your extras to the local Goodwill, Walnut Creek Presbyterian's Deacon's Cottage, or St. Paul's Trinity Center.
- Combine your extras with others and host an exchange or imagine a 2nd-hand boutique experience in collaboration with an organization serving the poor that you believe in. (i.e. The Michael Chavez Center serving Mexican immigrants on the Monument, City Team or Bay Area Rescue Mission serving the homeless and formerly incarcerated, or New Day for Children serving recently trafficked young women.)
We're officially half-way through The Lent Project. This 6-week journey of intentional denial is unearthing parts of us that are unsettling as well as inspiring new, simpler and more generous practices that we could integrate into our everyday lives. In this reflection, Bekah Polzin reflects on the experience of Week 3's Majority World Diet where, for 5 days, we stood in solidarity with the majority world by eating oatmeal for breakfast and rice & beans for lunch and dinner. Thanks, Trade As One, for the incredible resource! Here's Bekah's reflection...
I’ve never fasted or practiced giving up food. I’ve never eaten a specific diet for a period of time or done a “cleanse” of any kind. This week I learned that I’m not that good at it. I prefer to eat what I want, whenever I want it. It was a reminder of the privileges I have and a quick way to gain perspective.
It didn’t take me long (like, by lunchtime day 1) to realize that I think about food a lot. It didn’t surprise me to read a “Trade as One” email informing us that on average we make 227 decisions about food in ONE day. We are consumed with food.
What should I make for breakfast? What do the kids want? Should I get a cappuccino today? Should I just make a coffee at home? Regular or decaf? I’m so hungry – I need a snack. I’m getting a chill, maybe I’ll have another cup of coffee. What should I make for dinner tonight? I need to go to the store, what food do we need? And on and on.
What became clear to me throughout the week was the correlation between being fed by worldly things and being fed by Christ. Its true, God created us to need nourishment. But like many other things in our lives, food becomes the focus and not God. When the week was over and I finally ate a substantial meal, my first thought was, “I want more.”
What would our lives look like if we thought about Christ 227 times a day? Or instead of planning the next dinner party to perfection, we sat in prayer and invited God to be in our conversations around the table. Or instead of buying the 18th Starbucks for the week, we share the love and bought one for someone unable to treat herself, or use that money to support a greater cause.
I was struck by this verse during this process:
My friends, do not be surprised at the terrible trouble which now comes to test you. Do not think that something strange is happening to you. But be happy that you are sharing in Christ's sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory. 1 Peter 4:12-1
What If we each brainstormed 227 ideas of how we could intentionally love God by loving others through preparing, serving, or sharing food? Imagine the creative ways we could bring glory to Christ!
Lent is a 40-day journey in which we practice denial in an effort to recognize the distance between who we are and who we’re becoming in Christ. It’s an ancient practice designed to help us embrace our humanity, recognize our ongoing need for a Savior, and encounter grace in refreshing ways.
This year, Open Door will practice Lent in a unique, communal, and experiential kind of way:
The Lent Project: Six Practices of Intentional Denial.
Throughout this journey, we will engage in six different practices of denial and, in so doing, create margin to commune with Jesus in silence and solitude, community with others, and solidarity with the majority world.
Here’s how it’ll work:
At each Gathering during the Lent Season (March 9 – April 20), we will initiate that particular week’s practice. Then, for the next 7 days, we’ll live it out (Sunday evening to the following Saturday evening). For those of us in Circles, we’ll meet together to process, storytell, and learn from each other throughout the week.
If you’re not currently in a Circle but would like to join one to journey through the Lent Project with others, contact Heidi & Clint.
Here are the 6 Practices of Intentional Denial:
- Media Fast :: Turn off all media (Computers, TV’s, iPads, iPhones) from 8pm-8am. Replace the time that would normally be spent engaging media with silence, rest, and community. This first experience will prepare you well for the next five. Media Fast will be launched on Sunday, March 9th.
- Essentials Only :: Reduce your spending to the essentials: bills, toiletries, and 3 simple meals/day. Simple meals should be prepared and eaten at home (brown-bag @ work) rather than out and should include pot-luck style shared tables with others. This experience will help us face our consumerism and convenience spending while also helping us to consider budgeted and generous living. What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend? How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Essentials Only will be launched on Sunday, March 16th.
- Majority World Diet :: Eat on $3/day by utilizing Trade As One’s majority world diet kit. Each kit contains enough rice and beans (& preparation instructions) for one person for five days. This experience of intentionally simplifying your diet will help you stand in solidarity with the majority world and will help you understand how much money you actually spend on food every week. Note: the average savings per person will be $75-$100. What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend? How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Majority World Diet will be launched on Sunday, March 23rd.
- Comfort Fast :: Give up either your bed (sleep on the floor) or warm showers (cold showers are acceptable) for the week. As we stand in solidarity with the majority world, allow Jesus to awaken us to our preferences for convenience and luxury. If you’re really up for a challenge, give up both! Comfort Fast will be launched on Sunday, March 30th.
- Environment Fast :: Make decisions to reduce your gasoline consumption by at least half. This could include utilizing public transportation or the casual carpool and/or walking and biking rather than driving. This may include tele-commuting rather than heading into the office and turning down your water-heater. No doubt, this experience will continue to help us confront our convenience and should reduce our commitments for the week. What will you do with the money that you didn’t spend? How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Environment Fast will be launched on Sunday, April 6th.
- Extras Purge :: Take an inventory of all of your belongings. How many extra coats, shoes, appliances, electronics, shirts, pants, dishes & pans, etc. do you have? Face your excess and live generously as you purge your extras. Perhaps you could initiate an exchange with other friends, donate your extras or give them away. Perhaps you could pool your extras together with those in our Circle and host a garage sale. Perhaps we could take an inventory of the surplus of Open Door’s extras so that we could meet tangible needs of those within Open Door as well as those we’re connected with. If money is raised, what will you do with it? How could you pool it together with your Circle to invest in the flourishing of others? Extras Purge will be launched on Sunday, April 13th.
As you engage this pilgrimage as an individual and in community with others, here are some questions to take you deeper into the experience and into intimacy with God, self, and others:
- What challenge am I / are we experiencing?
- What does this practice expose about me / us?
- What is helpful about this practice?
- What is one highlight from this week?
- What is Jesus saying to me / us?
- What am I / are we going to do about it?
- What will our Circle do with the excess $$$?
On February 6th, we'll be launching a Circle that will utilize Dave Ramsey's resource, Financial Peace University, to help us to think, plan, and practice biblically with our finances. By the end of this 9-week Circle, you will be equipped to budget, give, save, invest, and spend wisely. Contact Nathan to RSVP & pre-order the resources for this Circle.
Take a read of the McKnelly's story. It's a journey from debt to freedom and generosity:
What would it look like if we trusted more in God than in earthy things? What would it mean to make ourselves accountable for the money that God has entrusted to us?
Hebrews 5:13 says - Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
In 2011, our family found ourselves in just over $20,000 in debt. None of this was what some would call "good debt" like owning a house or getting a degree, but was from credit cards and car loans. We borrowed all this money and had nothing to show for it, but large interest payments and barely making ends meet at the end of the month. It was misuse of God's money, plain and simple. When we found ourselves with only $30 dollars left at the end of the month and all of our cards maxed out.... We decided to go to a finance class and get our spending under control. Through that class, we heard about the infamous Dave Ramsey and we were intrigued. After reading his book The Total Money Makeover we signed up for his online version of Financial Peace University. After taking the course we got on a budget, seeded our first emergency fund with $1000 and started throwing as much money as we could at our debt. We were debt free in April of 2012!
In our whole adult life, we were never able to make the claim of being debt free. Since getting a loan for our wedding, we've always had debt looming over us... so you can imagine how freeing it was to write that last check and be able to cut up all of our credit cards. We'll never be in debt like that again!
When we were in debt, we weren't able to give to our community. When we started our budget we were only able to give 1% of our income to tithes, and it was embarrassing. Essentially we were saying that our love of money & desire for stuff was more important than God, our own formation, the formation of our community, and the transformation of our context. We were poor stewards of the resources God had entrusted us with. When we were finally out of debt and able to write that first full tithe check, we felt like we heard God more clearly and no longer felt like we had a dark cloud of dread looming over us. We could freely worship and freely give because we weren't wasting our money on stupid stuff.
We want that for our community. We want the subject of finances not to be a source of dread, but of opportunity to give to His cause. Whether that be through tithing, mission work or giving the homeless guy down the street a warm meal. Worshiping God with our finances results in our formation and the flourishing of our context. Join this Circle and experience freedom.