Mike Slaughter Interview: The Christian Wallet
Alert: This blog post is a tad bit longer than most. Stick with me!
The Christian Wallet has three sections: How We Spend (consumerism, how to budget, how to avoid debt); How We Give (tithing, investing, taxes); and How We Live (thinking about how we spend our time, where we live, and living simply). This book offers a holistic view of money and the way it can bind or free us.
My initial couple of questions to Mike (I can call him “Mike,” right? Maybe that should have been my first question.) were, “Why this book? Why now?”
Mike’s response was that “40% of Jesus’ parables talk about money or possessions. ‘Where your treasure (money) is, there will your heart be also’ (Mat. 6:21). Money matters. Money matters for churches. Although I’ve written a number of books on this topic [Shiny Gods, Upside Living in a Downside Economy, etc.], John Knox Press came and asked me to delve even deeper into the topic. They wanted me to look at the spiritual, moral, and ethical dimensions of how we spend.”
He continued, “And why now? Because debt is one of the biggest oppressors that people face in this consumerist society. And people of faith are not immune to falling into debt.”
Slaughter continued, “It’s important that we empower people to live debt free. It’s important that people be liberated to become generous. Churches tend to guilt people because of what they [churches] don't have… but money follows mission. Tell the story of where people’s financial investment is going.”
One way Ginghamsburg tells their story is through “Kingdom Investor Dinners.” Folks who give $1,000 or more to the church are invited to a BBQ dinner in May to hear how they are making a difference in the life of Ginghamsburg and the community. Mike says that he has seen people’s “investment in mission” double and triple as a result of these dinners.
Somewhat surprisingly, given Ginghamsburg’s $5.3 million budget, Slaughter follows a fairly conventional calendar when he speaks about money. Many of the books that he’s written on the topic come from the sermon series he does starting mid-October culminating with the church’s commitment service the Sunday before Thanksgiving. “Spent” will be this year’s theme and in previous years it’s been “The Christian Wallet,” “Shiny Gods,” or “Money Matters.” But it’s not just about the stewardship series. It’s also about giving people financial tools throughout the year with classes like Financial Peace University. It’s also telling the story about where money goes through Mission Moments, testimonies, and videos. People want to give to something. As he emphasizes, “Money follows mission, not budget.”
All this seems to come naturally for someone who “never had to overcome a fear of preaching or speaking about money.” Mike attributes his lack of fear to the way he was discipled. A self-described “young 24-year old” when he finished seminary, Mike was fortunate to have an Asbury Seminary professor who talked specifically about money and the “danger of debt and the need for investment.” The class still shapes the way he looks at and talks about money. Seminaries take note.
We wrapped up our conversation hoping that this book will find traction. And it should. When I first met Mike in June he agreed that this book could be categorized as “Financial Peace University from a Wesleyan perspective.” The Christian Wallet is a great new addition to the pantheon of books about faith, finances, and making generosity possible. John Knox press is getting ready to offer a free leader’s discussion guide to go with the book. You’ll be the first to get a link when it comes out. I strongly urge you to get the conversation started and offer this book as a small group study in the fall. As Slaughter says, it’s “not a quick read.” It’s to be studied, discussed, and should lead to substantial changes in the way people of faith relate holistically to money.
Slaughter ends his book with “Eight Christian Wallet Principles” – each of which could individually be utilized for discussion purposes. I’ll finish with one of my favorites and one of the hardest to fully embrace, “All of my wallet’s contents, every single penny, come from God. I am the steward, not the owner.” Thanks to Mike Slaughter for writing The Christian Wallet to challenge people of faith to live God-filled lives and for helping us navigate with common sense and hope one of the issues that – rightly or wrongly – dominates our lives.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She wants you to know that if you Google “Christian Wallet” that you can see many “real” Christian wallets on the internet. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.