"The Money Challenge" Book Reviewby Neal Eller, Sr. Consultant - Stewardship, Baptist State Convention of NC
Book Review: The Money Challenge
(B & H Publishing Company, Nashville, Tennessee, copyright 2017)
I have read more than my share of books in this area of stewardship often referred to as “treasures” by religious leaders or finances/money management by the rest of us. Several weeks ago, a colleague of mine gave me Art Rainer’s newest book, “The Money Challenge.”
I looked upon it with skeptical eyes and a suspicious attitude. Even the subtitle of the book turned me off, “30 Days of Discovering God’s Design for You and Your Money.” “Sure, right,” I thought to myself.
It was with this cynical attitude that I picked up the seven by five-inch 148-page book, and determine to read one chapter the next fourteen days I was in the office.
Rainer immediately captured my attention with the story of Annie, Randall, an elderly homeless man, and G.B., a banker. This storyline weaves its way through all 14 chapters beginning with Annie confronted by Randall for spare change to Annie being discipled by G.B., aka, known to other bank employees as “generous banker.”
Over her fourteen visits, a trusting relationship forms between Annie and G.B. In each visit, G.B. guides her through a few money challenges for the sole purpose of helping her to “get in a position where she can live out God’s design for her and her money, that is, to live generously.” The beauty of the story is the reader being drawn into the discipleship relationship between Annie and G.B where at times you feel as though you are the disciple of G.B.
What did Rainer write that captured my attention? What caused me on some days to read two or more chapters? What truly resonated deep within me? What was it that changed my mind?
I discovered Rainer wrote what I have been thinking and proclaiming for the last four years as stewardship consultant! This one thought became the silver thread that weaved throughout the whole story. He says it multiple times and it literally ends the story. I will refer to this statement as the “silver thread paradigm”.
The book, divided into four sections, becomes the simple process G.B. uses to disciple Annie called “The Money Challenge.” They are: “Give Generously,” Save Wisely,” “Live Appropriately,” and ends with “Generosity Killers.”
Do not allow the simplicity, size of the book or that it is a short read to influence your perception. I have heard it said, “Dynamite comes in small packages.” The spiritual truths contained in this book plus the simple three-step formula given, and the pragmatic, systematic approach times the power of the Holy Spirit working in the life of a believer over time equals to a powerful explosion that will take place in the reader’s life. The equation could look something like this . . .
What I believe separates Rainer’s book from other financial stewardship books is the formula and path he proposes are counterintuitive to most stewardship books I have read. Just as the Kingdom of God is counterintuitive to our broken world, Jesus’ teachings counterintuitive to the religious leader’s teaching, God’s economy counterintuitive to our western, free-market, business-minded economy and Jesus’ way of living and being is counterintuitive to our narcissist, self-centered, selfish, consumer and materialistic lifestyle; this book starts and ends with Jesus and others in mind.
To whet your appetite for the book, allow me to serve up the following appetizers.
A few of my margin notes: Easy to understand. Practical. Not overwhelming. A basic 101 course on retirement savings and college savings. I can’t believe you waited until day 25 to talk about this challenge! Great gift for every engaged couple; great guide for every married couple.
“Day 18 Money Challenge: Be generous with your home. Invite your friends over for a meal. If you are tight on cash, do a potluck. Ask everyone to bring an entrée, side dish, or dessert.”
Quote: ‘It’s time to start appreciating the life you have, not desiring the life of someone else.” (Art Rainer, page 106)
Silver Thread Paradigm: Sorry, this is not an appetizer; you will find it listed in the dessert section. You will have to read the book to taste this delight!
I recommend this book for…
- Pastors desiring to create a culture of generosity within the body of Christ they serve
- Small groups seriously searching what God has in store for them
- The G.B.s of the church seeking to disciple others in and outside of the church;
- Engaged couples
- Married couples striving for financial unity, and
- The Annie’s of this world that have said, “If I ever get out of this financial mess, I will be different. I want to make a difference with my life and better yet, I want to make a different in your life.”
To hear more from the author, register for The Money Challenge Lunch and Learn coming in the fall of 2017.