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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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If you're like me

It really is "your money or your life"

If you're like me, simple living isn't one of your lifestyle options anymore. And if your church is like mine, becoming "a simple congregation" isn't optional either. For families and congregations, these are perilous times, although still filled with joyful possibilities.

Since it's October, "reformation" and "stewardship" fill your mind and your congregation's pew racks with thoughts about what's important and hopeful. That's why I invite you to consider in the paragraphs that follow how you and your congregation can embrace "lifestyle simplicity" as a core identity and set of behaviors.

It's probably obvious that a few years back "more" and "continuing growth" died the merciful death that all unsustainable concepts eventually face. You don't consume more toothpaste, gasoline and soy meatballs just because they're out there and someone wants you to buy them. You don't hoard more facial tissue and communion wine just because you can save $1.25 a box or bottle when you buy them in quantity. And you don't measure personal or congregational success by the increasing size of your McMansion or McCathedral.

These are perilous times, and only shortsighted folks still think they can buy or borrow their way out of any kind of continuing repression. If you're like me, you're not shortsighted or dim-witted. You're a Lutheran, for God's sake, and for God's sake you're trying to do what God requires, what Christ invites and what the Spirit makes possible with your life.

Simplifying your mission

©Bettmann/Corbis
In one of his sketches, comedian Jack Benny (above) is confronted by a robber's insistence, "Your money or your life." Benny defers for several moments. When pushed by the robber for his decision, the characteristically frugal Benny replies, "I'm thinking about it!"
In one of his ageless sketches, comedian Jack Benny (right) is confronted by a robber's insistence, "Your money or your life." Benny defers for several moments. When pushed by the robber for his decision, the characteristically frugal Benny replies, "I'm thinking about it!"

What he was thinking may have seemed simple, but at a deeper level his choices were incredibly complex.

In these times difficult and complicated questions face both you and your congregation, perhaps intensifying the necessity to make choices about your part of God's mission.


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September issue

SEPTEMBER issue:

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