This month’s missional community focused blog comes from Neighbours, whose vision is to seek God’s kingdom in their immediate neighbourhoods (which are mostly housing estates).
I remember being challenged by a talk I heard some time ago in which the speaker asked who we let read our bank statements. Do you show anyone yours?
It’s such a taboo, isn’t it? Such an affront to suggest someone could look at them…and judge us. Talking about how we spend money, how much we have, how much we keep, how well we manage it. Discussions like that bring up shame, embarrassment, pride, fear, resentment. It makes us prickly. And yet when we read about the early church and their relationship to money and possessions, we read stories of sharing, of knowing and meeting one another’s needs, of openhandedness. It’s the most enormous challenge to work out how to apply that ethos in a culture where the privacy of our finances is absolute. Where we are persuaded daily to never be satisfied but always want more. In a city, a country and a world where inequality is growing at alarming rates.
In our missional community, we have really tried to talk about taboo subjects like money. We haven’t got as far as sharing bank statements, but we have intentionally talked about money. I remember being struck after the first time we talked about it as part of our discipleship how when we start talking about money, actually what we end up talking about is relationships, communication, fear, trust and priorities. In the end the financial part of our chat seemed like just the tip of the iceberg.
And I think community is our best chance of finding a healthy, holy way through to generosity, and kingdom-ly money management. You might not have that conversation with your whole community, but if MCs are the place of intentional discipleship and growth then they’re the place we should have those conversations. No one individual or family has this locked up, we really need the wisdom of one another’s perspectives and experiences. It takes courage to go there.
We’ve tried to go there again this month as a community, prompted by the Sunday talks. We met a couple of days ago ad talked about where we were being challenged and what we needed to do about it. Most of the chat was about money, even though our theme was wider. But it got us wondering about what generosity looks like in the communities where we live. Because I’m not sure our communities need money. I mean, there is definitely economic need on our estates, but writing a cheque is not what will bring change. Our best guess is that our neighbours need time, love, care, commitment, friendship, prayer. They need the gospel with clothes on. They need us to be present. Which is a much bigger ask.
Money is a clear indicator of where our priorities are. But so is where we spend our time. And who we pray for. Who we look out for in a meaningful way and create space for in our homes and diaries. Where do you find it easiest to be generous, and where do you find it hardest?