Our church has time during every service where someone leads us in a short reflection before we take communion. This person also leads us in prayer before we pass the offering bags(no offering plates for us, we have fancy bags).
There is a rotation of regulars who lead this time. Most of them are lay people. It’s one thing I love about our church. Some weeks it’s my friend, Lyneta. A few weeks ago she shared a funny story while her husband smiled and played keyboard background music and I wondered if he knew ahead of time that she was going to talk about him. Other times it’s different small group leaders. One of my favorites is Allen.
Here’s what you need to know about Allen. At first meeting, he’s quiet and reserved. His day job involves helping other people communicate their words, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have words of his own to share. He doesn’t waste his words. So, when he says something, I listen.
When it’s Allen’s turn to stand in front of our scruffy church, he always includes this line in his prayer before we give our offering:
“We’re not confused about whose it is.”
It doesn’t matter the number of times he prays those words, it always makes my heart sit up and listen.
We’re not confused.
Talking about money– especially at church– can make us feel all sorts of angst. We feel uncomfortable, conflicted, convicted. That’s a natural response when there’s a lack of alignment between what we’re doing and what we know to be true. There are plenty of complicated truths in Scripture– who owns everything isn’t one of them.
Allen’s right. We’re not confused.
Our problem isn’t a lack of understanding.
Too often the way we handle money sends the message that we’re in charge. If we plan things just right, everything is going to be fine. We live like we’re the owners. The way we handle our finances declares where we place our trust.
This is one reason I like to use a surprising modifier to describe our budget.
At first glance, that approach seems at odds with a budget that’s planned out to the last penny. Maybe. However, it’s the lens I’ve been using to view our bank account in a way that reminds me of its proper ownership.
How does this look practically?
We still do a monthly budget. It includes allocations for living expenses, for giving and for saving, but we don’t let it boss us around when it comes to the limits of our generosity. It’s our own spin on the “babysteps”. It keeps us from legalism in our finances and reminds us we’re not the boss. “Interruptible” means we still do what we can to pay attention to the needs around us and ask how our spending can show that we care about our neighbors.
How we give is one reflection of how we love. It’s unavoidably linked to loving our neighbors and our community.
*The neighbor girl selling cookies.
*The boy scout selling popcorn.
*The gofundme for the child with the rare disease.
*The lifegroup member whose car is dying.
*The friend who has been unemployed for months.
We hold our budget loosely. If God is pushing us toward giving, we trust that the math is going to work, in the end.