By: Ross Baird
“Though religion and money aren’t usually what motivates 25 people into an engaging, insightful, and inspiring conversation on a Wednesday night, we gathered for a house party to discuss “Church as an Economic Being.” And it was clear upfront that everyone was supposed to play a starring role. Joy led off saying that our relationship with God, day to day, is most manifest in our relationship with others, and our day is dominated with economic transactions we have with other people, so to separate our faith from our status as an economic actor is to ignore a major reality of the world.
She then turned it on us, encouraging everyone to speak up and say “how are you called as an economic being?” The responses ranged from a 20-year-old trying to balance her passion for volunteering her time with the realities of needing to make money, to a recently-retired professional wondering what to do with the remaining third of his life (and how much money plays into that), to a homemaker who spoke up, saying as a non-breadwinner she felt ignored as an “economic being” but she felt, for her career, that she played the central role in her family’s economic life, to a man who, at the urging of his daughter, sold his house, moved into a house half the size, and gave half the proceeds from the sale to charity. By the time we got through introductions, I felt a powerful interweaving of our faith and economic realities in the room.
But to what end? We discussed the various ways we personally, and as people of faith, use our own resources, and those of intermediaries, to explore God’s economy. A few of us from my church talked about a micro-loan program we’ve developed as part of our church’s mission budget–pragmatically, because an investment can help a cash-strapped church get more out of its resources, and spiritually, because an investment in another person sets up a relationship that we think reflect how God meant us to live together. Others talked about structural decisions (sitting on the finance committee of a big church) and personal (how much should I give and to where?) In the end, the evening engaged a wonderful group of people in a critical, difficult topic that left us all with ideas of what to do next.
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