By Josh Porter
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief (5–10 minutes)
Did you try last week’s practice, choosing to be silent instead of speaking? How did it go?
In which situations did you find it most challenging not to speak?
Did you discover anything about when and why you most want to speak?
Read this overview (5 minutes)
One of Jesus earliest recorded sayings was, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Many of us, though we’d likely not admit as much, don’t actually believe this is true. Most people assume (if only subconsciously) that if they had more money and more stuff, they’d be happier.
Jesus does not call his disciples to wealth, excess, or even financial security. He calls them to radical generosity. He calls them to let go. Jesus calls his disciples to the kind of generosity that will often seem reckless and irresponsible to the world of Dave Ramsey programs and five year career plans.
The context in which you and I live is set up to keep us blind to the way money stands to corrupt us. The Western mind wants badly to simply drift in the warm and gentle current of its own financial imagination. Money and stuff, we’re told, are good! More money and more stuff is better! We don’t owe anyone our money and stuff. It’s our money and stuff. The disciple of Jesus defy this, and deny both themselves and the status quo.
King Jesus taught us to hold our money and our possessions in open hands, they do not belong to us. They are not to be exhausted on our appetites or our plans, they are not be hoarded for our perceived longevity—they are to be redistributed in the name of generosity and justice, to the poor, those in need, for justice, for kingdom causes, and for the church.
Setting specific numbers is a way to exercise a heart posture with a quantifiable discipline. Not unlike any other spiritual discipline, we practice generosity and simplicity by disciplining ourselves with practice, not just when our “hearts” feel like it.
And then, our hearts are shaped by that practice.
Work through these questions together as a Community (25 minutes)
Remember, all of us are in process in our discipleship to Jesus. Treat one another with grace and compassion as you discuss the following questions.
- Do you find it difficult to be open and vulnerable about your finances and spending with others?
- How deliberate and intentional is your budgeting, spending, and giving?
- Jesus taught that our spending reveals our true values. Do you think that your current budgeting and spending reflects the kingdom of God? Why or why not?
Discuss the coming week’s Practice (10 minutes)
This week, make time to sort through your budget, or if you don’t have one yet, the last couple of months of your bank statement. Add up the way your spending and saving money into a few different categories:
- Necessary bills (rent/mortgage, gas, electricity, groceries)
2. Voluntary Bills (cell phone data, streaming services, cable)
3. Voluntary Luxuries (restaurants, vacations, shopping, entertainment)
4. Giving and Generosity (supporting the church financially, giving to charitable causes, treating a friend to dinner, donating to nonprofits)
The idea is to compare and contrast categories two and three with category four. Does the money you choose to spend on yourself reflect your values? How does the amount of money you choose to spend on yourself compare to the amount of money you choose to give away?
What would you like to change?
Work through these questions before calling it a night (10 minutes)
- Does the idea of evaluating your spending sound exciting or daunting? Why?