Money Talks: Week 2 Discussion Guide

CoreGroup Guide | Money Talks - Week Two
Written by Chris Burford and Denee Bowers


Welcome

In 1979, a new book series began under an interesting theme.  The series was called “Choose Your Own Adventure” and the reader would be thrown into the protagonist role in mysteries and in epic fantasy worlds.  In every story, there would be multiple crossroads where decisions would need to be made at key points to determine the main character’s actions and the ultimate outcome.  It was a novel approach to storytelling that received critical reviews; however, these stories did wonders for the imaginations of many people.  

It’s funny to think about our lives as a choose your own adventure, but the case can be made.   We come to crossroads every day, crossroads both significant and mundane, and we make decisions at those times that alter the course of our personal outcomes.  We may not be entrenched in deep mysteries or other worlds looking for a special unicorn, but our own outcomes are even more important, and our decisions get us there.


Ice Breaker

What is one decision you have made in your life that has led you on a positive path?  Maybe it was a memorable trip, or an epic meal, or perhaps it was a special connection with someone else. Please share this experience with the group.    


This week in our money series, we are focusing on the decisions we make concerning our spending. Jesus urges us to consider how we use money and warns us to avoid spending on things that don’t really matter. He also encourages us to be thoughtful and intentional with our resources. But, before we get started, let’s begin with a prayer.


Opening Prayer

God, Thank you for your presence in our lives. Thank you for this group and for the opportunities to study your word together.  Please bless this conversation and guide our discussion with grace and compassion.  It is in your name we pray Lord, Amen.



The Head

This passage is taken from an event in the bible called the Sermon on the Mount. In this event, a large crowd of people gathered and Jesus delivered a sermon covering many topics that explained God’s plans and made things understandable. These large crowds were attracted to Jesus because he spoke with authority and the message he provided was vastly different from what the religious leaders of that time were teaching.

Matthew 6:19-21

19 “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. 20 Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. 21 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

  • Placing verse 19 in today's context, what type of treasures that benefit us on earth would you list here? What makes those treasures so attractive?

  • Verse 20 directs us towards treasures that are in heaven.  What are those treasures?  What makes staying focused on those treasures so challenging? 

  • What is it about treasure that attracts our hearts?  


An additional reading this week is taken from the Old Testament book of Proverbs.  Much of this book is a collection of wise teachings and guidance.

Proverbs 21:20

Precious treasure and oil stay in the home of the wise, but fools swallow them up.

  • Oil is an interesting commodity to reference because in biblical times oil was used to burn in lamps, in ceremonies for offerings, and for anointing others.  What makes those uses wise?

  • When the phrase “fools swallow them up” is used, what visuals does that evoke?  What behaviors do you picture?


The Heart

So, when we look at our readings today and attribute them to our theme of deciding how to spend our money, we can see some valuable threads.  We know that the readings from Matthew were taken from a sermon in which Jesus was providing instructions to help us.  We can see that wisdom is found in thoughtful spending and investing in things spiritually motivated.  We can see that our hearts should be focused on God and not on earthly things.  But what do those things mean to us today?


  • Reflecting on our own personal finances can be overwhelming.  For most of us, there are many moving parts.  But, if we focus on just one small part at a time, a new spiritual path could be found.  Take a moment and reflect.  What could that small part be for you?  Is it a specific debt to be repaid or maybe a cause that has caught your attention?  What does this look like?

  • For a moment, imagine that you have no debts.  Imagine that those anchors are released, and you have a very comfortable amount of money saved.  Knowing that God encourages us to keep our spending spiritually motivated, how would you direct those funds?  Do you have a plan in mind?  What cause deeply resonates in your heart?

  • After you have identified that thing in the question above, how could you visualize putting that plan into motion? What things need to happen?  What would a small start look like?   


The Hands

A 2002 study published in the Harvard Business Review suggested that the biggest obstacles to accomplishing goals were 1.) a belief that the goal was unbelievable and 2.) a lack of identifying pathways.  In order to combat these obstacles, the article goes on to highlight five ways to achieve positive results:

  1. Connect Every Goal to a Why – This benefits a hyper-focus making a path easier to define, prioritizes things that should be done, and helps define the purpose.

  1. Start Small and Start Now – A method to take small steps helps to overcome perceived challenges.

  1. Break Your Goals Down – Breaking larger goals down into smaller ones helps keep them from feeling overwhelming.

  1. Remove Obstacles Before You Begin – Ask yourself “what could keep me from accomplishing this goal” and write down the obstacles.  By writing them down, you remove their power.

  1. Celebrate Your Wins – Take time to applaud your efforts.

Much of this strategy could be applied to our theme of wise spending this week.  There are ways to be proactive in our efforts to make good decisions and to set plans into motion.

  • What goals come to mind when you think about wise spending?

  • The notion of writing down an obstacle to remove its power is awesome.  Why do you think that could have such a dramatic impact?

  • The step to start small and quick has the potential to really get things in motion.  How could that be done in a thoughtful way?


Going Deeper

In the message this week, Pastor Matt mentioned an exercise where money origin stories were shared. That is, how money was managed in your household growing up. Now for some of us, those memories are happy and healthy.  And, for some of us, those memories are ones we would rather not think about. In any case though, those experiences are ones that shape us and ones that might be impacting our lives today.  Please share your experiences if you are comfortable. No pressure, though, it might be something to reflect on. The adventure is yours to choose.

Closing Prayer

Hey God, We thank you for our time together.  We thank you for the gifts you bestow upon us and for opportunities to share those gifts.  Please open our eyes to those opportunities to share our gifts in wise ways and guide us on paths to bless others around us.  It is in your name we pray, Amen.

References

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/09/19/the-enduring-allure-of-choose-your-own-adventure-books

https://hbr.org/2022/04/4-ways-to-make-sure-you-achieve-your-goals-this-year

CoreGroup Next Steps

Lent Devotional

We will be using Pastor Matt’s book The Methodist Book of Daily Prayer as our Lenten Devotional. Sign up here to receive the daily reading plan. Pick up a book next Sunday at your site.


Saving Grace: A Guide to Financial Well-being

There is still time to sign up for the upcoming financial wellness group! Over the course of 6 weeks, we will focus on strategies for achieving a sustainable financial life discussing specific topics such as saving, eliminating debt, creating budgets, and adjusting spending habits. The group will utilize the curriculum “Saving Grace: A Guide to Financial Well-being” and be taught by a trained facilitator.

Meets in the McCausland Multi-Purpose Room
April 25, May 2, May 9, May 16, May 23, May 30

To get the most out of the group, participants should expect to do about 1 hour of work related to their personal finances between group sessions. Participants are asked to contribute $15 toward the cost of the participant workbook. (We do not want the cost to be prohibitive, so please contact Ashley Pondoff, ashley.pondoff@gatheringnow.org if you need assistance.)  

If you are feeling the nudge to focus on your financial health, we hope you will join us!

Register at:  https://tithe.ly/event-registration/#/8383115

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