The Simple Life

Taking a long, hard look at our stuff


Hand out pens and paper and say: "You have been told you must move to a new town for a year. You can pack one suitcase and one big box of personal items. What would you take? What would make your list?" Give them a two or three minutes to make their lists. Then ask: "How do you feel about what's left behind?" Talk about what their lists have in common and how they're different.


As you walk through your home, do you see piles of accumulated things? Are there piles of papers and letters collected over the year? Are there piles of games that no one plays anymore? Do you have fancy dishes and platters you never use? Clothes that never get worn? And yet we still believe we need more.

We all have accumulated important mementos, hobby materials, and practical tools over the years. Depending on the time since your last move and the storage space in your residence, the amount of stuff may vary. But we all have lots of things, things that can bring back special memories, warm our hearts, make our life easier, or even help us grow.

But our stuff can also hold us back. Letters and photos can keep us living in the past. The desire for the newest toys, cookware, or apparel may feed into a competitive desire to impress others, a never-ending longing for meaning, or a dulling of unresolved pain.

Take Home Project

Collect a box of items you're ready to let go of—not stuff to go in the trash, but items you're ready to pass on to others. It might be valuables to share with a friend or second-hand goods to donate. Bring the box back next week for follow up. In preparation for the next meeting, ask group members to look up three passages at home: Matthew 6:25-34, Matthew 19:13-15, and Philippians 4:11-14.

After your meeting, group members should keep the selected items to give to friends or family. The rest of the items should be compiled. One person can drop off the items at a donation center.

Follow-up Questions:

  1. What items are in your box? How did you choose them?
  2. What items had been forgotten about or not used for a long time?
  3. What items were duplicates or no longer needed?
  4. Is there anything sacrificial in your box?

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