by Ryan Anderson
We get deep in accountability at Hope Church. We are all about gospel centered, transparent conversations and encouraging each other to be who Christ made us to be. It's amazing.
Temptation, addictions, bitterness, sex… nothing is off limits. Except for one thing: money. No one talks about their money. In Hope Church, the church in general, or in America.
For some reason, our money makes us more uncomfortable than all other areas when we think about dragging it into the spotlight. Money is the one taboo in the communities and relationships that are supposed to be taboo free. Maybe because we've been burned by the prosperity gospel, maybe because we don't want others to pity us, maybe because we don't want others to look down on us for having "too much" money, or maybe just because we like being selfish with our money and spending it on whatever makes us happy.
But it's healthy to talk about money in the right context. We need to be encouraged to be good stewards and honor God with the decisions we make about money, just like we would in parenting, discipleship, or any other area of our lives. It's biblical to stir each other up to good works (Hebrews 10:24). It's biblical to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16) and, yes, that includes the financial sins of materialism and making an idol out of money. Not only did the church in Acts not blush at talking about their money, they actually pooled all their money together! (Acts 2:45)
So what could this type of transparency and accountability look like for us? I had never seen it, so to find out, I had to try it. A couple months ago, Katie and I opened our financial world to a few close friends and they opened their financial worlds to us. No one knew what it would look like or how it would go. I doubt any of us truly felt comfortable doing it, but we all wanted to conquer the power of money in our lives.
It was an amazing night and I want to share it as a model that anyone else can follow when doing this for the first (or hundredth) time. We were changed that night, and I think you will be too if you are bold enough to give it a shot.
- We started off the night by praying. We prayed for God's peace and Christ's blood to be over any uneasiness, guilt, or shame felt throughout the night. We prayed for His protection over the night, and for His blessing in this area of our lives.
- Then Katie and I took the plunge and laid out how much money we make, spend, give, and save. We went through each asset and liability we had. I felt naked doing it with no clue what the reaction would be.
- After we had blurted it all out, our friends asked a series of questions to learn more and dig a little deeper (I've included the list at the end).
It was amazing, like a weight being lifted off my chest, knowing that Katie and I weren't alone anymore. Our friends were there with us. There to love us, accept us, encourage us, and challenge us to use God's money how he wants it to be used with no shame or hesitation.
And then we rotated and it was our turn to ask questions. One by one, we all shared and opened up. It was a holy night.
Going into the night, I was worried about what this could do to our friendships. Would I be bitter when someone else had more money than me? Prideful when they had less? Throughout the night, I realized that it is good if those feelings come up. Going through an exercise like this may be the only time I am ever conscious of those feelings. Each of those feelings say something about my heart, and it's good to process through them with people who care deeply about me. This is how the process of breaking the power of money in my life begins.
It was an amazing night and I can't wait for you to try it.
Helpful Parameters to Follow (courtesy of Blake Mankin):
When you sit down to do this, set the ground rules. Make sure someone says, out loud, something along the lines of these four things:
- The point of this exercise is not to show off or feel shame.
- We are doing this so that all of us can gain a better relationship with our stuff. No one is perfect.
- If at any point you feel uncomfortable, share it so we can openly discuss those feelings.
- Let’s pray.
Helpful Questions to Ask (courtesy of Randy Schroeder):
- How does this reality affect your marriage?
- How are you interacting with money together?
- How much are you giving?
- What messages about money made an imprint on you from what you saw and heard growing up?
- Does it cause stress in your family?
- Do you operate with a spending plan/budget?
- How is it working?
- What would your spouse say?
- Do you have a Will?
- Have you considered charitable giving in your Will?
- Would your spouse be OK financially if you died?
- What are your thoughts about your debt?
- How much are you saving each year?
- Have you set a finish line so you don't save too much?
- How would you describe your peace of mind about money?
- Talk about “God owns it all” and where you are with that.