The Investment Game
Set up: Leader will need play money (or strips of paper that could represent money) and notecards. Color a red circle on 5 of the notecards, a yellow circle on 4 of the notecards, and a green circle on 7 of the notecards. Ensure the circles cannot be seen through the other side of the notecards. Mix up the notecards and place them face down so the circles are not showing.
During small group, distribute three pieces of play money, each worth $1, to each person in the group. The leader will be the “banker” and will hold onto all the extra money. They can earn money, lose money, or keep the same amount of money during the game. When it is their turn, they can either draw a notecard, or they can pass. If they draw a red notecard, they lose $1 to the banker. If they draw a yellow notecard, they stay even. If they draw a green notecard, they earn $1 from the banker. If they skip their turn, they stay even. Go around the table a few times so each person has several turns.
Then have everyone take their money and give it to the person on their right. Tell the group that they are now in charge of managing the money that was given to them. At the end of the game, they will have to report to the owner how they managed their money. Play the game with the same rules, allowing each person several more turns. At the end, have each person give the money back to the person who gave it to them and give them an account of what they had done.
Discuss the following: How did you feel managing your own money versus someone else’s money? Did you use the same or different strategies? How did knowing you had to give an account at the end affect how you played the game? Considering that all money belongs to God, how does that reshape your spending and investing habits?
(Introduction for group leaders) As we study this week’s passage, it is good to remember that it appears amid Jesus’ final return to Jerusalem before the completion of His earthly ministry. The context of our passage begins with Matthew 19:23 and continues through chapter 25. The big picture is that Christ is making His last great emphasis contrasting the kingdoms of this world and worldly living with His Kingdom, a kingdom without end. Just as Jesus overturns the tables of the money changers in Matthew 21:10-13, the many parables combined with precise descriptions of the Last Days, are a final appeal to the nation of Israel and us to turn our own lives right-side-up and to follow Him.
1. Read Matthew 25:14-15. It's clear from this parable and many other passages that we were saved to embark on a mission. What is it?
(Intent: Possible answers include loving the Lord and others sacrificially by dying to self and serving, making disciples, and building the Kingdom of God.)
2. What does the talent (NAS, ESV; gold-NIV) represent?
(Intent: All that God has entrusted to us, including money, abilities, possessions, time, etc.)
3. What does it mean that the master gave various amounts of gold to "each according to his ability"?
4. Read Mt. 25:16-17. The servants were free to invest their gold in various ways. Similarly, the mission Jesus gives all believers is broad. Considering your gifts, how are you expanding Christ’s Kingdom with what He has entrusted to you?
5. Read Mt. 25:18. What are some ways we today might fail to invest what the Lord has given us?
6. The master commends the first two men identically (verses 21 and 23), despite the first gaining more gold. What does this mean?
(Intent: Compare with Mt. 20:1-16 – Parable of the Hired Workers.)
7. Read v. 30. a) Comparing this verdict with Jesus' words in verses 21b and 23b, what does this mean? See also Mt. 22:11-14. b) How does it work that we are saved by grace, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9), yet Mt. 25:30 indicates complete disobedience and lack of fruit results in eternal punishment? See James 2:14-26.
(Intent: While salvation is obtained by faith in Christ because of God’s grace, the result is that the Christian does good works to please the Lord. The Holy Spirit, who indwells believers, changes the heart and motivates the Christian to do good works.)
8. Reflecting on the parable:
a. How do I know I am ready for the Lord’s return?
b. How am I serving the Lord?
c. Am I serving others because I love the Lord or for my benefit?
Have each member of the group think of one unwise spending habit they would like to change and one wise spending habit they would like to do with that money instead. For example, instead of buying a coffee every day, a person may want to donate that money to the next BAM offering. In prayer, have partners confess their unwise spending habits to each other, and ask God to multiply their offerings to wise investments. Encourage partners to contact each other throughout the week as accountability partners.
Take five minutes to list all the Lord has given you spiritually, relationally, mentally, physically, etc. Pray through and thank Him for each one, keeping in mind they are all gifts from the Lord.