Stewardship Resource

Curing Affluenza, Tony Campolo Video Series - Discussion Sheets

Happening  Happening
  • Author: Pastor Todd Nelsen is the senior pastor at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, New Ulm, MN.
  • Updated: 03/19/2008

Below are discussion sheets for the first five sessions of the video series.  For more information about the video series click on
www.luthersem.edu/stewardship/resource_detail.asp?resource_id=369


Todd Nelsen reports that this series was shown at the adult forum and was very well received.  Well - almost.  It seems that the first couple of sessions causes some folks to feel very uneasy.  But they hung in there and by the end, were very thankful they had.

Pastor Nelson says, that there is so much interest that the small groups in the congregation are going to use it to stimulate their discussions.


CURING AFFLUENZA - SESSION ONE
ABUNDAT LIFE - WHAT IS IT?



20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21'Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. 'Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22'Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24'But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25'Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. 'Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26'Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.  Luke 6:20-26
1. In Luke's version of the Beatitudes, Jesus describes a simple lifestyle which he says will be fulfilling.  Tony talks about a reasonable lifestyle, how would you define a reasonable lifestyle?
2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.   Isaiah 55:2-3


2. Tony says, "our affluent lifestyle is deadening our souls and spirit; it enslaves us.  What signs of the enslavement of affluence do you see at work in our community today?

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God--what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

3. John Wesley has stated, "Work as hard as you can to earn as much as you can, to spend as little as you can, in order to give away all you can."  How might these words challenge us to do the will of God in our lives?

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.' 14But he said to him, 'Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?' 15And he said to them, 'Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.' 16Then he told them a parable: 'The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, "What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?" 18Then he said, "I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry." 20But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.' Luke 12:13-21

4. Tony speaks about consumer products being sold to us on the basis that they will fulfill or satisfy spiritual needs.  What are some examples of that today?  Are the temptations to great to resist?

And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32'Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.     Luke 12:29-34

5. Tony quotes St. Augustine as saying, "Love God and do as you please."  How do the ways in which you use your material blessings reflect your love of God?

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 15If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.  Galatians 5:13-25

6. In the video, Tony tells us that the world teaches us to build beautiful houses and accumulate a lot of things.  But Jesus says to risk everything, give it away:  there is abundant life.  Are you willing and are we ready to take that risk?  How will taking that risk assist you in serving your neighbors?

Question To Take Home
ܦ How can I cut back so that I get rid of the stuff that I don't need in order to pay attention to the things I do need?


Prayer
Take my life that I may be consecrated, Lord to thee.  Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.  Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine.  Take my heart, it is thine own; it shall be thy royal th


CURING AFFLUENZA SESSION TWO
Money:  How Poor Does Jesus Want Us to Be?



16 Then someone came to him and said, 'Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?' 17And he said to him, 'Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.' 18He said to him, 'Which ones?' And Jesus said, 'You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 20The young man said to him, 'I have kept all these; what do I still lack?' b 21Jesus said to him, 'If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.' c 22When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.  Matthew 19:16-24


1.  Does Jesus really expect us to give away everything in order to enter the Kingdom of God?  Why is this a difficult question for Christians to wrestle with?

31 'When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me." 37Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?" 40And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." g 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." 44Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?" 45Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me." 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.'  Matthew 25:31-46

2ܦ How does this story of the sheep and goats shape our discipleship and our use of wealth?  Is this law or is it grace?

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?  Matthew 16:24-26

3ܦ Has the church accommodated to the American dream?  Does the church live as a counter cultural community?  How can it?

16We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us--and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? 18Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.  1 John 3:16-18

4.  In the video Tony says that 900 verses of Scripture deal with how we should use our wealth, most which say give it away.  How can we hear this word as life giving rather than as a threat to our well-being and security?

41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.  Acts 2:41-47


5. Can the church, holding things in common, take care of the needs of others?  And can all of this happen with people in the church having "glad and generous hearts"?

6.  In the video Tony confronts the prosperity theology of many churches today. How can scripture like Acts 2:41-47 help us in confronting a mentality of prosperity?

10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:10-14

7. How do the ways in which we use our wealth assist us in "pressing on toward the goal of our heavenly prize"? 

8. How much can we keep for ourselves?

Prayer

God, whose giving knows no ending, from your rich and endless store?
Nature's wonder, Jesus' wisdom, costly cross, grave's shattered door.
Gifted by you, we turn to you, offering up ourselves in praise.
Thankful song shall rise forever.  Gracious donor of our days.  Amen


CURING AFFLUENZA - SESSION THREE
Time:  How Much Do I have to Give Away?


15 One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, 'Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!' 16Then Jesus said to him, 'Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. 17At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, "Come; for everything is ready now." 18But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, "I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets." 19Another said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets." 20Another said, "I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come." 21So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, "Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame." 22And the slave said, "Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.' 23Then the master said to the slave, "Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner."'  Luke 14:15-24

1. Tony talks about our culture glorifying a hectic lifestyle.  What things in this life demand your attention out of necessity?  What things in this life rob you of time because of truly unnecessary demand?

8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work--you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.  Exodus 20:8-11

2.  Tony discusses Sabbath keeping.  It was important for God to rest on the 7th day, why is Sabbath rest a good thing for us?  How has our hectic lifestyle prevented us from being good Sabbath keepers?

12For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12

3. How can time or lack of time be an unholy ruler in our lives?

4. What do you not have time for that you want to add?  What will you drop in order to allow time for the addition?

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' 58And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.' 59To another he said, 'Follow me.' But he said, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' 60But Jesus said to him, 'Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.' 61Another said, 'I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.' 62Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'  Luke 9 57-62

5. What is Jesus asking when he says drop everything and follow me?  How does this apply to our discipleship?  Is it a difficult demand?


Prayer- Take my life that I may be, consecrated Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.    Amen


CURING AFFLUENZA - SESSION FOUR
Stuff:  How Much Can I Have?



14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham.  James 2:14-16

1. How much stuff do you have?    How much of the stuff you have do you need or use?  How does our stuff get in the way of our serving others?

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. 37And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him--that she is a sinner.' 40Jesus spoke up and said to him, 'Simon, I have something to say to you.' 'Teacher,' he replied, 'Speak.' 41'A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?' 43Simon answered, 'I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.' And Jesus said to him, 'You have judged rightly.' 44Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.' 48Then he said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' 49But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?' 50And he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'  Luke 36-50

2. Does the story of the woman and the ointment make room for stuff that is beautiful and brings delight?

3. How can we use stuff to do things for God with a flair?  Is there room for flair in our doing God's work?

See Leviticus 25

4. Tony is speaking about tithing for a party...Jubilee.  How can the church take time to celebrate the joys of God's abundance?

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2'The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, "Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet." 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, "The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet." 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

5ܦ If life in the kingdom is like a banquet, does God want us to wait to experience it?  Can we experience it together?  What is our obligation to invite others to the feast?

6.  Tony quotes the bumper sticker, "He who dies with the most toys wins."  Is this a true expression?  Does it fit with our understanding of faith?  What in our society would produce such a statement?

Something to take home. 

7.  Tony spoke about God breaking through the "thin places".  Where are you "thin places" where God has broken through?  How has that shaped your view of money and stuff?

Prayer

I give my life to you Lord; I give my life to you. I lift it up to you Lord and sing Hallelujah!  I lift it up to you Lord and sing Hallelujah!   Amen


CURING AFFLUENZA - SESSION 5
Support:  What Will Help?


10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.  Ephesians 6:10-20


1ܦ In the video, Tony says that our struggle with Affluenza is a spiritual battle.  Where do you find support in living the simple life for Christ?

37Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?" 40And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." Matthew 25:37-40

2ܦ Tony speaks about transformational travel and supporting children in the third world as a way support your living a simple life for Christ.  What can you you do here  in New Ulm to live a simple life for Christ?

My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. 2Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. 4All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride. 5For all must carry their own loads. 6Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher. 7Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. 8If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. 10So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. Galatians 6:1-10

3ܦ How comfortable are most people with hearing the challenging words of the scriptures?  Do you agree with Tony in his view that people are hungering to hear the challenging word of the scripture?

46And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.' Luke 1:46-55

4ܦ Will the way you hear the Magnificat read or sung change as a result of this series? 

5. If we read the Bible through middle class and upper middle class lenses, what can we do as readers of the Bible to hear the radical words of Jesus?

Prayer

Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I with hold.  Take my intellect and use, every power as thou shalt choose.  Amen


SESSION SIX - AN OPEN DISCUSSION

--Todd Nelson

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