Every three months—in March, June, September, and December—the Crouches do something absolutely essential to our spiritual health as a family. We give away a substantial amount of money.
I am not reticent about disclosing the exact amounts that we make, save, spend, and give. In fact I believe that no church or Christian community can be healthy without talking about real dollars rather than the absurdly vague hand-waving that often passes for discussion of financial stewardship. Several times over the past few years I have handed out a complete Crouch family income and expense statement to fellow members of our church. Not so much because we are models of stewardship—we are by many standards absurdly wealthy and absurdly stingy—but because I am convinced that our spiritual health requires transparency and vulnerability in this area. And believe me, distributing a complete statement of how you have handled your money (or, more precisely, the money God has entrusted to you) is transparent and vulnerable!
Disclosing these details online is a different matter. Somehow our culture has gotten things exactly upside down. We are vulnerable and transparent online in ways we never would be in person. This is cheap transparency, based on virtual intimacy, and I won’t indulge in it here.
But at this time when the whole world is reeling from the effects of an economic crisis brought on, among other things, by a series of extraordinary conspiracies of silence about the truth of money—including millions of Americans taking on debts they could not reasonably expect to repay, thousands of companies taking risks they could not calculate using financial instruments no one could understand, and most recently hundreds of investors entrusting their wealth to a man who refused to tell them what he did to make it grow—it seems worth saying that by far the best thing Catherine and I have done with our money, in fat years and lean years, was to give some of it away, and to try to order our lives so that we could give away more and more.
So during these last days of the year, I want to celebrate the cultural goods created by the amazing non-profit organizations Catherine and I have the privilege of supporting. I’ll also post a few thoughts about how we give, and why—in the hope that as all of us prepare for whatever 2009 may bring, we will enter it with the joy of people who have entrusted everything to the one who gave everything for us. Merry Christmas.