Why Don’t More Faith Communities Emphasize Simple Living?

church and money

My church is part of a denomination whose doctrinal statement reads in part, “Nonconformity calls us to reject the world’s unrestrained materialism, its sensualism, and its self-centeredness. Rather we seek to express the values of God’s kingdom by a lifestyle of modesty and simplicity.” Nevertheless, in the eight and a half years I have been a part of this denomination, I remember hearing only one sermon on simple living. In fact, I believe that was the only sermon I ever heard on the topic, despite having been a part of various Christian churches all my life.

I wouldn’t call the members of my congregation extravagant, but most are saturated in consumerism,

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21 Responses to Why Don’t More Faith Communities Emphasize Simple Living?

  1. steve says:

    They don’t offer that information because many are only in it for the money. If they teach you how to finance properly, they won’t get the money they want. It’s as simple as that.

  2. Jay Gatsby says:

    Like any other organization, religions are financially-dependent on their members for their charitable works, if not their very survival.

    That said, all religions place a greater emphasis on spirituality rather than the material world. Yet even if they gave equal time to the spiritual and the material, what would make religion the appropriate means by which to teach financial responsibility?

  3. Angela says:

    My Church teaches it “religiously”. Ha. More should teach it, but there again they need you to pay them in order to survive.

  4. GMack says:

    (This reply is from a Christian perspective…I don’t know how other religions view this topic) This is actually a very delicate subject to work around. First, the bible does not teach that “simple living” is a requirement for holiness. What it does teach is that there are other things in your life that have to be right before you can handle the responsibility of wealth. A wealthy person with a humble heart, contrite spirit, and dedication to glorifying God is viable biblical concept. Having wealth is not sinful, it’s what you do with your wealth that makes the difference.

  5. nanamom says:

    You can ask a person to give up sex before marriage,avoid drugs and alcohol and be honest, but don’t ask them how “successful” they are. While I don’t equate success with wealth many people do and there is the problem. Success has become not what we can do to live our life for Jesus but how much we make and how prestigious a job we have. They hold themselves as better than those who practice thrift as the Amish do and consider them backwards. Churches don’t practice the art either that I have seen except by force (low income)

  6. princessperky says:

    IMO churches avoid suggesting simple living because the ‘sacrifice’ of waking up that early on a Sunday is hard enough for most folk, asking em to give up the fancy coffee on the way in would be a sure fire way to lose members (and therefor lose income)

    Our church ‘hints’ at simple living or at least at looking around your house to see what you are advertising, what your ‘stuff’ says about you… and what better use you might be able to make of your money.

  7. Jay Gatsby says:

    What about the biblical quote: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_of_a_needle

    It was often used by various churches to get their members to “unburden” their wealth….

  8. Sean says:

    As an aside, I don

  9. Lisa says:

    Financial Peace courses are a good start. I believe that one of the first things God commanded was good stewardship. He told Adam to care for his garden. I would agree that most newcomers are not ready to hear a message of “give up your current materialistic way of doing things”. They come to faith in stages. Most churches will allow or even encourage small groups that focus on an area. Perhaps you could help those who take the peace course with the nitty gritty of day to day living in a simple manner.

  10. baselle says:

    Yeah, you would think that if a church taught you how to be a whiz at budgeting and in living simply that tithes would increase.

    However, many churches are aspirational and frankly, branded. Often knowing that Mr. Jones worships at the super-church X brings in people. Even there is no Mr. Jones, worshipers watch each other and compare and really weed out folks who are not like them. And frugal people are not like them.

  11. harrison says:

    I would take it a step further and say that not only do most churches not teach frugality and simple living, they actively discourage it. They try and separate you from your money all kinds of ways (all in the name of God). Personally, I think that if more churches did teach personal finance, more people would be even worse off.

  12. Hilary says:

    Money is a “material” too, in the sense that hoarding money is just as materialistic as buying the newest gadget. I think living simply and being frugal align with church teachings, but being cheap and not donating to charities does not. Say what you will about churches being greedy, but those tithes and donations pay every worker’s salary. With some notable exceptions, I’d wager that most ministers are not in it for the money (if nothing else, there are far better ways to get rich).

  13. RMac says:

    Financial Peace University is a DVD based curriculum that is fun, entertaining and educational and not available in libraries. Along with that the small group accountability aspect is huge in encouraging each other. Plus you get access to other resources. It truly is inspiring. Well worth the $93.

  14. Sylvia says:

    I am a pastor’s wife and have never even heard of a church approaching such a topic in it’s prayers and doctrinal statement. I am so impressed just to hear that! We lived within our income and were criticized to the point of being asked to put our van behind the garage, instead of in the driveway. I guess someone thought it wasn’t “nice enough”, since it was an older one. And there was absolutely nothing wrong with it.
    Our denomination pays little as a habit, yet members criticized that we weren’t living a better (fancier) life. It was considered an embarrassment to them. As a pastoral family, you can’t win for losing.

  15. Cindy M says:

    Shannon, excellent article. You ask why your denomination does not stress simple living. Do you know that probably 99% of “Christianity” believes they are either living in the “kingdom” or working to get there, does OT/Israel tithing (which would correctly be 30%, by the way, not 10%, and not for us today because WE ARE NOT ISRAEL), baptism and church membership. My bible study group emphasizes what Paul taught in his epistles and we follow his pattern – we don’t “tithe,” no membership roll, no baptizing, no sending missionaries to foreign countries, no choir, no frills, NO DEBT, amen. Dave Ramsey and others teaching the tithe are full of beans. We rent a union hall and will always stay small because we don’t follow the crowd and “celebrate” xmass or other pagan-sourced ideas. We meet several times a week to do II Timothy 3:16, “study to show thyself approved…” and to uplift each other for the week ahead. Please do check out discerningthetimespublishing.com and midactsdispensationalism.com. And no, we are not a cult and we do study the whole bible. I’d never go back to the old denominational baloney.

  16. Cindy M says:

    Whoops, that was II Timothy 2:15, NOT what I put above. Guess I really do need to do more studying, ha-ha. Anyway, everyone please check the above web sites and read our statement of faith.

  17. Mark says:

    Some churches do talk about this. My church will be talking about materialism all month long!

  18. sam says:

    Cindy, tithing is important as it not only helps to support your place of spiritual nourishment, but churches also help those in need. A

  19. Gail says:

    Very interesting article. I think you are correct that many pasters/leaders can’t preach or teach messages on simple living as they don’t know how themselves. Simple liveing is a Biblical concept especially within the new church where everyone freely gave of what they had so that all would have enough.

    I think many Christians and those who follow other religions would be so much better off if that practiced frugality and simple living and dependence on God for their needs. The Bible advocates that people work for a living and depend on God.

    I think it is a shame when bankruptcies are published in the paper to see church goers I know listed there. It tells me that somehow they have gotten their priorities in life messed up.

    I’m so happy to see you have written an article like this. I hope people sit up and take notice.

  20. Riley says:

    1) Finance has nothing to do with God. (which #2 somewhat negates but religion doesn’t really make sense either) 2) Jesus said it’s impossible for a rich man to enter heaven

  21. I love this post! A friend of ours told us about a church in Alabama that invited the Crowne Financial to give a workshop at their church. That was the coolest thing I’d heard of in a long time. Perhaps the closest thing to Simple Living being taught in church in many a year.

    Anyway, I love what you wrote. We’re hoping to infiltrate our new church with our simple living discoveries and even offer a few classes there (for free) on making soap, keeping chickens, turning off the cable, and focusing on the family.

    Excellent post! I am new to your site.

    Blessings!
    Lacy

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