Tag Archives: Money & Stewardship

A Brief Post About Financial Stewardship

ps2Last spring, the church we go to was been doing a series on finances (Full disclosure: I’ve only heard two of the sermons in the series).

In all my time of attending church and listening to sermons (about 1997 till today), I’ve rarely heard a sermon that really lays out practical thoughts or ideas about money. It always boils down to being a “heart issue”, that is, it’s basically between you and God and that your heart is in the right place. Even if there is mention of the “tithe 10%” scriptures, it’s never issued as a command or standard in the church. Pastors rarely say “if your a Christian you should be giving away ten percent or more of your income,” and if they do it’s balanced or padded with “heart” talk

What I’m getting at is that it just doesn’t seem like there is much straight talk about finances in the church at all. I would love for a pastor to get up and say, even with qualifiers that it’s a “heart issue”, exactly how much their family’s cost of living is, and why they chose that amount and what financial stewardship looks like in their life. I’m wondering if others have heard sermons at all like that, or even close to that. (The close example I can think of is Ron Sider discussing the graduated tithe his family does at the end of Rich Christian’s in an Age of Hunger).

It reminds me of part of one of the finance sermons I heard last March. It was really good, I love the kind of stuff the pastor says. He went off about how big corporations have ripped off the grassroots origins of Hip Hop and used it just to make money. He’s tearing into how gangsta rap has affected both the urban centers and suburbs and a lot of “wickedness” is going down as those big corporations make money off the rap and the blame is placed on the artist and the urban culture. And then he says this:

“Nobody saying to Sony, “I’m not buying a PS3 because thae same company that makes PS3 is also pimping these kids and having them sign these contracts and making money off the stereotypes of black people. Now, I have a PS2 at home, which makes this kind of a complex statement. Just cause I failed at it don’t mean it’s not right!

Somebody has to set a standard, somebody has to set an example of what this righteousness with resources looks like.”

Now I missed the other sermons after that, and I don’t know him personally, so I’m not sure what he’s decided to do with his PS2. But, I do appreciate him being honest about it. And the point isn’t really to call out the pastor on this, but to say I really wish I’d see two things: 1) That kind of honesty and practical application of faith as it relates to finances/resources and 2) pastors, churches and communities that were going a step further and making collective decisions (or at least discussing them) regarding resources and choices in supporting brands, etc.

Q: Have you heard sermon’s or had mentors that laid out practical thoughts and application of faith regarding finances and resources?

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How Much Is Enough?


If I ever had the opportunity to preach a sermon, I think this just might be the question I would pose. It really feels to me like money and all the issues surrounding it is the greatest hinderence to our americanized Christianity truly being a radical faith that it was intended to be. There are a ton of Bible verses I could point to, but I’ll just use one chunk of a letter from the apostle Paul to Timothy.

7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction…

17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (I Timothy 6)

There are plenty of other verses that would lend support to this, but I can’t escape the simple straightforwardness of this message and that it seems directly applicable to us in the United States. We should be content with “food and clothing” and we should be “rich in good deeds” and “generous and willing to share.” So obvious, and yet, what does that mean for us?

Does food and clothing include shelter? If so what kind? Should we purchase a home? What about a vehicle? Is there a point that we can say “this is enough” and simply stop accumulating wealth and possessions beyond that point? Is there? Is it something we can only decide individually or can a local community church make a collective decision? What about larger bodies?

This is clearly not something I’ve come to a solid answer or decision on, but rather something I’m constantly struggling with and have been continually disappointed that it doesn’t really seem to be brought up in church.

You’ll hear the occasional sermon on financial stewardship, and the pastor might be so daring as to call church goers to give a 10% tithe. And it’s rare, but you might even find a pastor who will point out the scriptures warnings of the dangers of riches and wealth. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon where a pastor will take a stab at defining what “rich” is. No one ever puts a number to it. And we can talk all day about tithing 10%,  but has anyone ever tried to define how much is acceptable or necessary to live on, to spend on ourselves?

These are my questions. I don’t have answers, but I think it’s a conversation worth having. Where do you stand?

Where I do My Grocery Shopping

This is actually a repost of something I wrote last year, but I figured it fit appropriately on a Monday (CRM). This has changed a little since we live in a community and I don’t actually do much of the shopping, but I think it’s still pertinent to most people. I’ll probably elaborate on CSA’s and other things more at some point soon. From February of 2006:

When it comes to most of my purchasing, price is a major factor. In the same way that I wouldn’t go pick the most expensive designer jeans and assume they are the best, ethically and quality, I don’t go for the most expensive groceries and consider it ethical. Currently, we (my wife and I) do our main shopping at ALDI. I’ve tried as much as possible to find out more about the ethics of ALDI’s and compare it to other grocer’s but never with much luck. I did recently find out that ALDI’s is owned by the same company that owns Trader Joe’s from whom there is a little more information. I also occasionally shop at Kroger. Kroger as a company has done some fairly unethical stuff in the past, as far as worker right’s in their stores, and for about 6 months we joined in a boycott of their stores. From what I know the strike and boycott was a victory and some good agreements where made. ALDI’s is Extremely reasonably priced, but the savings are mostly in how they run the store, not in short changing their workers and producers (From what I can tell).
If you shop at a place like Kroger or other major retail chain you’ll also encounter having to choose what brand products to buy. It’ll take you a little while to read through, but I’d highly recommend reading the notes at ResponsibleShopper.org about FOOD brands. The goal is not for you to read all the bad stuff and lament ever eating again, but rather for you to become more aware and educated about some of the situations stores have been in. Like I suggested in a Fair Trade article I wrote, I would suggest picking one product (coffee, chocolate, tea) and choosing to buy it ONLY Fair Trade.
In addition, I personally know I want to shop at the local Farmer’s Market more. Nashville has a year-round Farmer’s market that carries plenty of produce, and I would recommend anyone I know to shop there first. Also, if you could become part of a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) I would encourage you doing that. We were part of a local CSA in the fall and plan to continue come spring time. Basically each week we would get a bin of food. Always a dozen eggs and a whole chicken, and then an assortment of fruits and vegetables. We had to learn how to cook new items and discovered many different peppers and squashes. I would HIGHLY recommend you get involved in a CSA if you can find one.
Last but not least, for you radical few out there, I would recommend you find a local Food Not Bombs group, hang out, and learn a little bit about the art of dumpster diving.

Ditching Dave Ramsey is all the rage

So a little while back I wrote a short little piece about why I ditched Dave Ramsey. Basically, all I wanted to say was that I felt bad that he was encouraging a women away from her desire to be a good steward and on to living large (my summary).
Currently, the post has 21 comments and about only one of them related to what I was originally writing about. It turns out there are a few people with some strong opinions about Dave Ramsey. Dave got out of debt himself and now he’s making a buck telling others how to do the same thing. Some have a problem with his plan, others with him making a buck, others are die hard fans of him.

Me, I just want to encourage people to be wise and sacrificial stewards with their finances.