Series Introduction

God has blessed Eastside with the opportunity to reach thousands of people with the message that Jesus loves them and wants to change their lives in profoundly positive ways.

But we don’t want to be satisfied with what God has already done, with what He has already blessed us with.  We want to use the blessings He has given us wisely so that we can help even more people understand the life-changing power of a relationship with Jesus.

Have a volunteer read Mark 2:1-5.

These four people would stop at nothing to get their friend to Jesus, including boring a hole through someone’s roof.

What if that was our mindset? What if we would stop at nothing to introduce people to Jesus?

What if for one year we were to pray like we never have before, to set an alarm on our phones for 5:08 PM and pray every day for the 5.8 million people who live within 20 miles of an Eastside campus?

What if for one year we were to go like we have never gone before: to join the launch team for our newest campus in Bellflower; to invest time in one of our weekend ministry teams; to lead a small group and help a small circle of people to make friends, follow Jesus, and make a difference; to serve with local compassion and impact our communities, or to go beyond borders with our global compassion team and impact the world?

What if for one year we were to give like we’ve never given before to help strategically position our church to fully leverage God-given opportunities to reach more communities like we have in Bellflower, La Habra, Park Rapids, and Anaheim?

  • What are some of the sacrifices that others have made that have impacted your life in a positive way?

  • What sacrifices might you be willing to make to impact the lives of others?


Introduction

We recognize that money can be a sensitive topic, but it’s also one of the issues that Jesus talks most about.  How we choose to use our money speaks volumes about our priorities and, consequently, about our spiritual life.  We would encourage you as a group to engage these discussions with grace but not to shy away from them, as they could have a profound impact on you both personally and spiritually.

You may also find that some people in your group are relieved to know that others don’t have everything figured out financially either.  Because money is often such a taboo topic, it’s an area where many people who struggle are isolated.

Contrary to what you may have heard people say, the Bible doesn’t condemn money or wealth, but it does condemn the love of money and ill-gotten gains.  And it warns about the dangers that come along with having wealth.

  • We all like the idea of having more money, but if you were to suddenly find yourself rich, do you think you’d be a good rich person or a bad rich person? Why?

Tomorrow matters.

Its easy for us to forget this because most of are conditioned for instant gratification.  We want things today, not tomorrow.

But too often the now mindset takes over when we’re thinking about our finances.  It’s the now mindset that leads to debt and financial insecurity because there were some things we just couldn’t wait for, things that we wanted today, not tomorrow.We all get letters offering to loan us money, whether it’s an offer for a $1000 payday loan or a $100,000 credit card.   They talk about loans and financing and opportunity, but you know what they don’t talk about…

Debt.

But that’s exactly what they’re selling you: debt.  They want you to think they’re selling you clothes, and vacations, and shopping, and instant cash, but they’re not. They’re simply selling you debt.

  • Why do you think we have so much trouble saying no to things we can’t really afford?

  • If you have said no to things you can’t afford in order to avoid debt, what has been the impact?  If you have taken on debt in order to pay for things you couldn’t otherwise have paid for, is that a decision you are still comfortable with or do you wish you had made a different decision?

Have a volunteer read Proverbs 22:7.

Debt takes away your freedom.  It makes you a servant. Now not all debt is bad and the Bible doesn’t say it’s a sin to go into debt, but it does give lots of warnings about the danger of debt.

Debt can be harnessed for good things: a business, to own a home, for an education, but we really get in trouble when we start accumulating debt for things that depreciate in value: clothes, cars, boats, electronics, eating out, vacations, because we think we have to have things today. But tomorrow matters.

When we realize tomorrow matters, we will change the way we live today.When we realize tomorrow matters it will change the way we pray today. It will change the way we serve today. When we realize tomorrow matters it will even change the way we manage finances today.

Have a volunteer read Matthew 25:14-30.

Now, each of these bags of gold would have been worth about $30k.  So one guy gets $150k, another $60k, and the last guy $30k, and the owner says, “Hey, take care of my money while I’m gone.”

The first thing to notice here is that these guys are not owners but rather managers responsible for advancing the owner’s goals.  The financial resources that we have aren’t really our own either, they’re provided to us by God so that we can manage them well and advance His goals.

  • How would shifting your perspective from owner to manager change the way you think about your finances?

So two of these guys invest the owner’s money and double his money.  Now, we don’t know exactly how long the owner was gone, but even if he was gone 5 years, that’s still a 13% annual return!

But the third guy was scared.  He was afraid of losing the owner’s money, so he put it in a safety deposit box so he wouldn’t lose any of it.  But, of course, he didn’t do any good with it either.

The guy who managed a huge amount of the owner’s money well?  He was given even more to manage.  The guy who stuck what he was given in a hole in the ground?  The master called him wicked—not just lazy—wicked.

Jesus couldn’t have been clearer. We will be accountable one day to God, the owner, for how we managed His stuff.

  • What is the best financial decision you have ever made?

There are really only five things you can do with money:

  1. Pay taxes.

  2. Spend it.

  3. Pay debt.

  4. Save it.

  5. Give it.

Most of us prioritize our money exactly like this.  When we get paid we pay taxes… because we have to because it’s automatically deducted from our paycheck.  Then we spend money, some on things we need, some on things we want.  And then we pay our debt, the money we’ve already spent.  And if there’s any left over, we’ll save some.  And maybe at the end we’ll give away a few dollars to God or to the people in need whom He cares about.

God, the owner of the money we’re managing, is the last among our financial priorities.   We are so often unwilling to give away money to God or to people in need whom God cares about.  It isn’t usually an intentional decision we make.  It just happens by default.

  • How do you currently prioritize the five financial priorities listed above and why do you prioritize them in that way?

Each of these five ways of using our money falls into one of three buckets:

  1. A today bucket.

  2. A tomorrow bucket.

  3. An eternal bucket.

When we pay taxes, spend it, and pay debt, that goes into the today bucket.  When we save it, it goes into the tomorrow bucket.  The Bible teaches us to be wise like the ant who stores up food during the summer in order to make it through the winter.  And then when we give it to God and causes He cares about, it goes into the eternal bucket, because when people find Jesus it changes their lives for eternity.

Have a volunteer read Proverbs 3:9-10.

The Bible teaches us that our first priority should be to put money into the eternal bucket.  If we’re managing God’s resources, it only makes sense that we would give to Him first.  And it isn’t really about money, it’s about value.  When you prioritize something financially, you’re indicating that you value that thing.

If you decide to live in a small apartment so that you can drive a nice car, you’re making a value judgment.  You value the nice car more than a nicer place to live.  Or if you decide to drive a beater so you can afford a better apartment, you’re valuing a nice place to live over a nicer car to drive.

When you decide to give to God first, you’re communicating to God that you value Him, that you’re prioritizing Him in your life above all of your stuff.

And then wisdom says that before you start putting money into the today bucket, before you start spending, you should put some money into the tomorrow bucket, because unless you’re wealthy (and maybe even if you are), once you start spending you’ll almost always use up whatever is left.

There’s a simple plan to do this.  It’s called the 10/10/80 plan.  Take the first 10% and give it God.  Take the second 10% and save it (not under your mattress, invest it wisely), and then live on the last 80%

  • What do you think about the idea that you should give, save, then spend, rather than spend, save, then give?  Do you agree with Gene that the 10/10/80 plan is a financial freedom plan?

If you’re struggling financially or trying to figure out if give, save, spend is really a good idea, we would strongly encourage you to join Financial Peace University.  It meets on Thursdays at 7 PM on our Anaheim Campus (June 15-August 10) or Mondays at 6:30 PM on our Park Rapids campus.  For more information or to sign up, email Sean Rees (seanrees@msn.com) if you live in Southern California or Ginnie Peterson-Johnk (ginnie297@charter.net) if you live in northern Minnesota.