Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Money Challenge – Art Rainer

©2017  B&H Publishing Group, Nashville

According to the blurb on the back of the book, Art Rainer is the “vice president for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds a Doctor of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University and an MBA from the University of Kentucky.” What makes me want to read what Art has to write is more that he is the son of Thom Rainer, and I expect that what he has to say will be well-thought out and succinct. In relation to his degrees and position, I think that perhaps his subject matter is right down the alley of his education. That subject matter: money.

More than money, though this little 150-page book is about applying God’s design to your money in order to help you become a stronger follower of Jesus. It’s a book about the Christian’s use of the resources entrusted to him/her by the Maker and Master of his/her life. If you think that this is just another in a room full of already written, tried, and tested tomes about the subject of money management (or even stewardship) you’d miss the mark. Rainer seems to be more interested in helping Christians be better Christians than simply help Christians be richer Christians.

If you are interested in simply a stewardship or money-handling, pick up a book from Ron Blue or Dave Ramsey or the late Larry Burkett (all good Christian money management experts). Some of the money management principles they espouse are either used or expanded on here. So, what is it that Rainer is offering? I would personally label it discipleship. The springboard he uses to launch into Bible-based, full-out discipleship is one that is dearest to the heart of many Americans—the pocketbook.

The thirty days of discovery (part of the book’s subtitle) are woven into the three aspects of living the Christian life that turn money woes into money management and general living into genuine Christianity: give generously, save wisely, live appropriately. People, Rainer states, are designed to be generous. And through our generosity we find happiness. The reason we save is to be generous. The reason we get out of debt is to be generous. The reason we buy a house is to be generous (in the long run). Rainer also asserts that “living appropriately” is based in the idea of living within one’s means—not trying to keep up with the Joneses (whoever they may be) nor having the latest gadget.

What might draw the reader to this book as opposed to other money management books? Its brevity is a big plus. Rainer says as much in 150 pages as many gurus take 300 to disseminate. I also enjoyed the fictional example woven throughout the book, bringing a personality to both the person needing help and the mentor who presented her with the challenges (it never hurts to have an It’s a Wonderful Life allusion).

I would recommend this little book to Christians (both new and old), especially those who are struggling with financial matters. As with many books, producers may be interested in churches and small groups using this as a curriculum for small group study. I think it will have its best application as a one-to-one discipleship tool. In fact, I am making plans to use it to disciple my children as they reach the age of 14-17, as a tool for both discipleship and money management learning. It will be an invaluable tool for Christians desiring to find God’s design for them (and their money).

Five out of five reading glasses from me. For more information about the book, listen to this interview between Thom and Art Rainer (the publisher and author of the book). [#TheMoneyChallenge from @artrainer and @bhpub is available NOW at your favorite bookselling outlet.]

—Benjamin Potter June 10, 2017

[Disclaimer: I received this book for free from B&H Publishing Group for this review.]

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