50+ Enhancements

CCiPadCommon Change has more than 50 new changes and enhancements.

Our online platform provides the mechanism for pooling money together with people you know to give to people you care about. We are happy to schedule some time if you’d like to walk through the platform together – just let us know.

Let Yourself Be Inspired

Each one of us has something to contribute. That’s the truth. But many times we don’t feel that way. We are told we are not enough, that we’re not ready, and that we lack what is needed, by others. And even by ourselves. The lies we are told can hold us back from the gifts we were made to give.

At younger ages it can easier to be faithful to our creativity and our dreaming than to our security. That seems to flip as we get older. But it doesn’t have to. There are steps each of us can take today to use those inspired parts of ourselves and use them. It could be singing, teaching, serving or learning, what is it that you long to contribute? Don’t let fear turn you against your playful heart. Let yourself be inspired again. You might be surprised at the impact it has–on you, and on those around you.

“Don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.”

Restored Relationship

“Unless a grain of wheat goes into the earth and die, it remains by itself alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” This weekend, many will be thinking about Easter and considering the impact of death and resurrection. But what does it mean to practice resurrection? For some, a relationship have been virtually dead due to lasting bitterness. Perhaps you’ve given up on someone that has let you down again. Or maybe you’ve recently let someone down in a big way, and it looks like there’s no coming back from it. Asking for forgiveness is hard and choosing to can be even more challenging. Continuing without it tends to be worse, and often inducing more pain than we expect. As you go this weekend, consider how the practice of forgiveness can be renewing and restorative, not just for a relationship, but for yourself as well.dinnerwfriends

What keeps us happy?

What keeps us happy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier.  They’re also physically healthier and they live longer than people who are less well connected. It’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. How might you develop relationships that matter? It’s been said that we make a living by what we get and we make a life by what we give. May we give ourselves to building long and healthy relationships that cultivate a lifetime of happiness.

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Everything That Remains

by Bryan Grower

From my time studying philosophy at University, I have been interested in various thinkers, artists, and films that question the fabric of reality and the existential crisis caused by an uncritical pursuit of an “American Dream”. The crisis of identity and purpose seems to drive many to the extreme and often unhealthy measures to feel alive. Some have questioned whether consumer culture is our core vice rather than the ways we find to distract, numb or cope with our human condition. Where I am often disappointed in these cultural critiques is their focus on the human condition through the individual and their tendency to be cynical.

The Netflix documentary: The Minimalists is an interesting film about two friends Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus and their exploration of minimalism. They wrote a memoir, Everything That Remains about how they stumbled into a growing movement that is discovering the freedom possible from the clutches of debt and an insatiable desire of greed and acquisition. They raise the same questions of freedom and identity as those asked by many thinkers and artists before them, but they approach the question from a far less cynical and more practical perspective. They found that adjusting their lifestyle to live simply and intentionally afforded them the ability focus on the things in life the add value and fulfillment. This is a memoir about pursuing lives that are “intentional, deliberate and meaningful” and it challenges an uncritical pursuit of lifestyles we cannot afford, status advertisers tell us we need and an elusive promise of security if we could ever just make a little more.

“Understand, every moth is drawn to light, even when that light is a flame, hot and burning, flickering, the fire tantalizing the drab creature with its blueish-white illumination.  But when the moth flies too close to the flame, we all know what happens: it gets burned, incinerated by the very thing that drew it near.  For decades now, I have played the role of the moth, lured by the flame of consumerism, pop culture’s beautiful conflagration, a firestorm of lust and greed and wanting, a haunting desire to consume that which cannot be consumed, to be fulfilled by that which can never be fulfilling.  A vacant proposition, leaving me empty inside, which further fuels my desire to consume.  Accepting the flame for what it is, then, is important: it is necessary and beautiful and, most of all, dangerous.  Realizing this, becoming aware of the danger, is difficult to do.  But this is how we wake up.”

I appreciate the tangible “experiments” the authors provide in how they and others have adapted into the Minimalism movement and their honesty about their failures along the way. Practices and life rhythms are an important part of community development and crafting lives of meaning. I was speaking to a friend about the Minimalism movement and we began to discuss if there is more substance to this conversation than providing life tips and internet memes: ‘4 Ways to Clear the Clutter from Your Home’ or ‘How to Find Meaning in 3 Steps’.  What is left once we clear the clutter? Will there be anything of substance that remains?

At Common Change, we believe the substance and meaning is built collaboratively with friends and neighbors around a table where we take responsibility for each other’s well-being.  A community practice is an activity that gathers people together to share their gifts, teach what they know and create neighbors that seek after each other’s welfare. A discussion of a meaningful life must incorporate practices or life rhythms that help people be more human. Everything That Remains is an inspirational discussion that I hope drives us to not merely find ways to reorganize our lives in the pursuit of individual meaning, but drives us to the community table to discover ways to be “intentional, deliberate and meaningful” together.

After Hours with Pastor Hite (Further Thoughts on Matthew 25)

by Dustin Hite

One of the biggest struggles we often have as we encounter the parables of Jesus is our penchant for assuming a one-to-one correlation between story and meaning.  Specifically, we often approach these parables as if they will easily yield their fruit to us for easy application in our lives.  Our desire for the kind of return on investment promised by many self-help hucksters will always be thwarted by Jesus, the storyteller.  New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine in her book Short Stories by Jesus says it best: “The parables are open-ended in that interpretation will take place in every act of reading…good storytellers adapt their tales to the needs and interests of their audiences.”

This open-ended nature of the parables may cause anxiety for some and yet freedom for others.  This is no more true than when we consider one of the most controversial parables Jesus ever shared.  It comes from the Gospel of Matthew and deals with a master giving money (or “talents” in some translations) to his servants with no explicit instruction about what to do with them.  He goes away for a time during which two of the three servants put their allotted money to work and achieve a return.  The other servant buries his allotment in the ground.  Only upon the master’s return do we realize he had an expectation that ALL of his servants would achieve a return.  When he discovers that the third servant simply hid his money in the ground, he becomes indignant, taking back the money from the servant and giving it to the one who gained the biggest return.

So, what are we to make of this parable?  For some, like biblical scholar Ched Myers, the meaning is quite easy to assess.  The third servant was actually the one who behaved in line with the values of the kingdom of God, for in the ancient world the kinds of returns the other servants achieved would only be the result of cutting corners, cheating others, and stealing from fellow kinsfolk (something in Jewish culture that would have been scandalous).  For others, our Western capitalist context leads us to read this parable as one of two industrious servants achieving returns for their master that were expected, and it challenges us to ask the question of whether or not we are achieving results, not for gains in capital, but rather for the kingdom of God.  Each of these interpretive communities sees little room for the reading of the other, and I think that’s to our detriment.

Which one is the correct reading?  Well, dare I say, both!  Read more

There Is Enough

ccchairsConsider the miraculous feeding of the thousands we find in the Christian Scriptures.  The conversation goes something like this.  The disciples are concerned that the people are hungry and approach Jesus.  Jesus’s response is brilliant: “Well, give them something to eat!”  The disciples are still thinking with the mind of the market economy and cannot possibly conceive of how to hit up the local Walmart and feed all these people… “That would take eight month’s wages!”  How in the world could they possibly afford to feed these people?  Jesus’s response (again, characteristically brilliant)… he asks them: “What do you have?”  All they have is a meager offering of a little kids sack lunch – some fish and chips.  But he is willing to give everything he has.  So Jesus takes it  and adds a little Godstuff.

And he proceeds to take the meager offerings of a little kid’s lunch to feed the entire crowd of thousands… and, when it’s all said and done, there are  leftovers. The unmistakable lesson is that God will take whatever we have if we offer it with open hands and a willing heart – and God will use it to work miracles, feed thousands, change the world.

We are the ones God is waiting on. When we throw our hands up at God and inquire “why do you allow this injustice!?”… we have to be ready for God to toss the same question back to us. We have a God that chooses to need us. We have a God who doesn’t want to change the world without us.

Real Story on Receiving a Gift from Common Change

flowerccThis year, our family has experienced deep disruption as we’ve had to move out of our home and part with most of our possessions due to mold. It is only through the grace of friends and family who have come alongside us that we’ve been able to make a new start. So much of the loss and grief has been balanced by the love we’ve felt from those who have cared for us, and I’m grateful that my children have been able to experience this firsthand.

One of the unique blessings of this has been the way people we don’t even know have come alongside us. We received a gift through Common Change simply because someone advocated for our need, and others chose to share in that. The generosity of total strangers stirs a depth of gratitude and joy unlike anything else we’ve experienced.

Integrating your spirituality with your economics

churchWritten by Dustin Hite, reflecting on collaborative giving from his vantage point of being a pastor of a large congregation in Indiana.

If you want real evidence that we read scripture with thoroughly Western eyes, then you should examine one small word, “you.”  Throughout the New Testament, many of us come across this one little word and we read it as a personal address, a note meant just for us.  However, ask any Greek professor and they will tell you what so many of us often overlook–in the original Greek, the word that is translated as “you” is usually plural.  When we read it in any other way than this, we impoverish its meaning, for scripture, if it is nothing else, is the story of community formation, of the gathering of people around a common belief, cause, Savior.

This struggle to read with our eyes clearly affixed to community is no clearer than when we look to the economic issues and struggles of those around us.  In challenging us that “whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise” (Luke 3:11), the gospel writer betrays a common truth–to share out of our abundance presumes a relationship.  This challenge emerges from a worldview that understood the bond of community is more important than individual flourishing.  In this context, to have one among you who was in need served as an indictment on the entire community and threatened is social/relational stability.  Giving was not just a means to address economic deficit, but, more importantly, relational deficits.

There exists, today, a very big challenge when it comes to relational redistribution.  That challenge is our ever-present belief that there are much better uses of our resources than giving them to our neighbor.  Yet, if we give in to this line of thinking, then we give short shrift to how our giving can be a means for relationship–in fact, it might be the paramount reason to give.  However, we fail to see this so often because we’re locked up in our thinking, held captive by our Westernized (READ:  capitalistic) thinking that can only see poverty, lack of resources, and struggles as problems to be solved rather than avenues for connection.

It seems odd to state it like this, but after thirteen plus years in ministry, I have come to believe that economics is deeply spiritual.  Whether it is the strain on the collective life of a family struggling under the weight of consumer debt or the single mom fighting to keep a roof over her kids’ heads, economics are both a physical and a spiritual concern.  And yet, it is also a relational issue, as it rises and falls, in many cases, in direct correlation to the depth and breadth of relationships.  Too often, though, our “solutions” to the financial challenges of those among us is all too economic.

Having spent many years considering alternatives, I think there is no other option than one that begins and ends in relationships.  In the Church, we have tried to address these struggles–both for those within our communities and those without–as if the only issue was a dearth of currency.  Then, we wonder why nothing ever changes…

My hope and prayer–as a pastor, a Christian, a human being–is that both individual Christians and their communities of faith will not be held hostage to the kind of thinking that perverts the biblical message.  But, that we will believe, with all our heart, that the opportunity to give what we have decided in our hearts to give (2 Corinthians 9:7) is not just a call to economic redistribution, but relational reconnection too.

It takes a village

Did you know that the three countries where Common Change has the strongest group presence are amongst the top 10 countries with the highest percentage of single-parent families? In the United States, 27% of children live with one parent; in the United Kingdom 24% do; and in South Africa, the percentage spikes through the roof with 43% of children living with one parent.

Single parents face the full role of care-giving, nurturing, role-modeling, discipline, provision and decision-making – often in the absence of a broader support network.

We believe that no parent should have to raise their children in isolation. We believe that a community makes the world of difference: financially, emotionally, and physically. We believe that sometimes all it takes is a little creativity to draw alongside a single parent and let them know in tangible ways that they’re not alone.

Here’s how Common Change groups have come alongside single parents this year:

  • A group in North Carolina paid for two months of “child support”, and helped connect a mother to Legal Aid
  • A group in DC helped pay for moving costs for a mom and her teenage daughter, and ensured they got into more permanent housing
  • Friends in Austin provided start-up items for a new mom
  • After a single-mom had an emergency heart transplant, a Common Change group in California paid for meals and groceries. They also provided another parent in Omaha with a month’s worth of grocery cards.
  • A group in Round Rock, TX covered utilities while a mother looked for work
  • Friends in Riverside, CA paid a phone bill, to allow a single-mother looking for work to remain in contact with potential employees
  • A group in Philadelphia, PA covered tuition costs for a teen mom
  • A group in Lexington, KY covered a Habitat for Humanity mortgage payment for a single mom from the Congo
  • A group in the UK helped pay the cost of an unexpected tax bill for a parent
  • Friends in New Jersey paid for car repairs for an Egyptian mum and daughter seeking asylum in Tennessee
  • A group in the UK purchased dressers and beds for a single mom and her two sons
  • A group in California helped a mom transition to a new life, and navigate increased health insurance costs for herself and her four children
  • A group helped a single-dad send his daughter to college and cover tuition and living expenses

Our challenge to you this month? Think about the single parents you know and how you might tangibly express your care and support. Make it a focus to submit a request to your group this month on behalf of a single parent.

Not yet in a Common Change group? Start Your Group Today

Some Stats:

More than half of single mothers in the US live in extreme poverty with incomes below half of the federal poverty level — about $9,900 for a family of three. This translates into a weekly family budget of about $200. In addition, one-third (34.4%) of single mother families are “food insecure,” 13% use food pantries, and 30% spend more than half their income on housing, which is generally considered the threshold for severe housing cost burden. Nearly a quarter have no health coverage and single mothers spend a third of their income on childcare.

Read more: Single Parenting Challenges & Rewards

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