Book Review of “The Christian Wallet: Spending, Giving, and Living with a Conscience”
The Christian Wallet: Spending, Giving, and Living with a Conscience
by Mike Slaughter with Karen Perry Smith
(Westminster John Knox Press, 2016)
Are you “truly a follower of Jesus or just a fan”? Authors Mike Slaughter and Karen Perry Smith urge us to consider this question in a time when some Christians may have lost sight of the ideals of “costly discipleship.” Slaughter is the pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio. Smith is Executive Director of Church Operations there.
The Christian Wallet: Spending, Giving, and Living with a Conscience is a thoroughly researched book that balances current statistics with contemporary views of biblical wisdom on ways to “find significance or fulfillment” (p. 10). The authors lift up examples of church ministries where Christians exhibit discipleship and generosity to make the good news of Christ known.
Slaughter and Smith believe that people are “not designed to be simply consumers of stuff, trapped by the debt that fuels it, but to be producers of God’s blessings into the lives of others” (p. 12). Time and money, the authors explain, are “the two major currencies we have to spend on planet earth” (31). They advise readers to evaluate how we express our values as “citizens of heaven,” while living in the midst of worldly economic systems (32). We must continually ponder “God’s priorities” for our spending and the impact of our choices on others (47-48). We may draw inspiration from John Wesley’s dedication to frugality; he did not elevate his lifestyle as his earnings increased but expanded his giving (111).
Smith and Slaughter hope that people will discover “meaningful work that produces God-honoring outcomes” (167). We could make changes in order to “manage a wallet” that more fully reflects Christian commitments (206).
This book addresses challenging issues related to financial realities in American life. Church councils, committees, small groups, and adult Sunday school classes will benefit from reading these practitioners’ reflections on their experiences. Every chapter concludes with questions for personal reflection, as well as a section in which readers meet people who embody the principles described in the text. Even if class participants do not read the material in advance, they will be able to discuss the life practices and theological commitments of the people in the examples. Elaine Barnett has prepared an accompanying six-week study guide for adults. The guide is available as a free download at https://www.wjkbooks.com/Content/Site117/FilesSamples/292730Slaughter_00000024676.pdf.