Beryl Jantzi is a former pastor and now serves as the Everence director of stewardship education. For more information on examples of financial policies and practices congregations might consider adopting, contact email@example.com.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer died in prison at the age of 39, April 9, 1945, at the hands of the Nazi regime. He is probably best known for his book, “The Cost of Discipleship,” a commentary on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as presented in the Gospel of Matthew.
Of all his quotes, one of the most notable is, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
For Bonhoeffer, dying to self and the idols of culture was a daily practice of discipleship.
Bonhoeffer also made a connection between the virtue of generosity with Christian discipleship in his book, “The Cost of Discipleship.” Dietrich wrote,
“Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. In the wilderness God gave Israel the manna every day, and they had no need to worry about food and drink. Indeed, if they kept any of the manna over until the next day, it went bad. In the same way, the disciple must receive his portion from God every day. If he stores it up as a permanent possession, he spoils not only the gift, but himself as well, for he sets his heart on accumulated wealth, and makes it a barrier between himself and God. Where our treasure is, there is our trust, our security, our consolation and our God. Hoarding is idolatry.”
- How does dying to self, relate to our view of money?
- When does prudent saving and preparation for the future become hoarding?
- How can we responsibly earn and save money to care for present and future needs, without it becoming an end goal for life? How much is enough?
- How do you integrate discipleship, generosity and financial planning in your own life?
These are challenges Christians face today as much, if not more, than in Bonhoeffer’s time.
Author, Howard Bess has done his own work reflecting on the life and writings of Bonhoeffer, as it relates to his views on biblical stewardship and money.
“In the typical American church, people regularly express thanksgiving for the worldly goods that they possess. The amount of this world’s wealth that is held by a Christian is considered an indication of God’s blessing. Bonhoeffer would not have anything to do with that kind of thinking. A person’s wealth, rather than an occasion for thanksgiving, was an occasion for seeking God’s wisdom about how the wealth was to be shared. The blessing of God was not in a person’s wealth. Rather the blessing of God was found in the giving away of the wealth.”
Bonhoeffer wrote at a time when the world seemed on the brink of disaster. As a pastor, he was talking about reaching out and caring for those facing even greater needs than his own. How does his life and legacy intersect with our own challenges today?
For more examples of ways to preach and teach about money and stewardship, contact Beryl Jantzi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer in “Cost of Discipleship” (New York: Macmillan, 1979, pg. 194).
 Howard Bess in “Bonhoeffer-wealth is for sharing” (Religion Views, Dec 8, 2011).