Money is a particularly difficult and often uncomfortable thing to talk about. David Foster Wallace, the late novelist, once said, “Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship…is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.” In our culture today many people worship money whether they are wealthy or not.
Most people don’t bow to it, but they do become preoccupied with it–allowing it to rule their lives either for the purpose of gain, or because they don’t know how to deal well with it. Average consumer debt is consistently on the rise, thanks to credit card companies marketing to younger and younger clients without sufficient financial awareness.
The obvious problem with this is that when money rules peoples lives, it is normally for the worse—bankruptcy, divorce, overbearing debt. But there are less obvious problems as well. Jesus talked about money in scripture more than he talked about pretty much anything else. And not for being a Wall Street guru, but because he knew that money tugged at our heart in ways that most other things can’t. He knew that money was the thing that we are perhaps most inclined to idolize, or put in the place of Lord, in our lives.
The word Jesus uses to talk about money through most of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) is “mammon,” which is more closely akin to the English word “wealth.” The connotation of the word “mammon” has almost a sense of magnetic force. Jesus talked a lot about the lure or pull of “mammon” on our heart strings.
This is why money should, no must, be talked about in the church!
Of course in a rapidly declining mainline church in North America, money talks often take on another form entirely. When churches begin annual stewardship campaigns with an “ask” to meet the bottom line, they not only miss out on dollars and cents—they miss the point! We have an opportunity as believers to think holistically about stewardship and how money affects every area of our lives.
So, in the hopes of helping out churches who want to do a stewardship campaign, or want to talk about money, but aren’t sure where to begin, I have put together a sermon series layout that I hope can help. You can view it here.
For individuals who feel particularly trapped by money, there is a devotional here as well. It was written specifically for our congregation. But my hope is that you and your family may begin good conversations around money and how it affects your heart.