One of the primary questions in most efforts to be church is what to do about money. We consider Alcoholics Anonymous, which decided against owning property or keeping a corporate treasury and instead let each local group be self supporting. We think of how churches often receive an offering and ask members to tithe or pledge to support the church’s budget.
We want the Spirit to guide us to practices which might bring greater abandon with our giving. We have much to learn about what these practices are. Like the early Christians, we want to surrender everything to Christ, including our various kinds of wealth. In this new community, with some who have much material wealth and some who have little, we cannot ignore how money and other kinds of privilege have been at the root of our separation. We do not want to cause further harm.
So we are asking, what did it mean for the early church to share all things in common and to sell their goods and distribute the proceeds to whoever had need? What structure might allow us to live as freely as that? We know that being the authentic church will call us to face the power issues inherent in having and not having money, not because it’s a rule we will try to follow, but because it’s a result of loving and being loved.
Those of us who have more than we need and those of us who have less than we need often suffer silently, ashamed and afraid to acknowledge this shadow between us. In this new experience of community we want to look openly at the specter of money and the ways it has isolated and hurt us. We want the lordship of Christ over all parts of our lives.
In that desire, we are committed to “hilarious generosity” [2 Corinthians 9:71 and to the fundamentals of redistribution. Some of what we have done so far is to give assistance with rent and medical bills and child care expenses. We have helped arrange financial courseling when it’s been sought and have responded to needs outside our group as we have been made aware.
The bottom line question for all aspects of the group’s life together is, “How is my freedom tied to your freedom?” The creative use of our money is included in that question. Undoubtedly we will make mistakes as we work with these issues. We hope to make as many as possible on the side of generosity.