[This post is part of the Becoming a Missional Family series.]
Turns out, a family’s budget shapes a lot more than spending habits.
Oftentimes, what stands between a family who makes disciples and a family that doesn’t (all things the same) is how the family budget is set up and handled.
So don’t be a fool
You hear a lot about being wise with your money. In Christian circles, it’s called stewardship. Typically that involves hefty savings accounts, planning ahead, and giving 10% to your church. At best, the goal is financial longevity and not being a burden on others. At worst, it’s all about getting really stinkin’ rich.
But is it really missional?
The reckless fool
To be sure, there is such thing as a foolish budget. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, this would be characterized by the younger son. “The younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living” (Luke 15:13). Definitely foolish. Everyone knows it.
The prudent fool
But it is rarely acknowledged that there is another kind of foolish budget: The overly prudent one.
Consider Jesus’ story about the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21,
“The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
To be honest, I’m much more prone to be super frugal. I’m with the guy who just wants to know there is a little cushion room. Then I would relax, I tell myself. It’s a great way to sound wise and manage to keep my stinginess and anxiety about money concealed.
Jesus sees through it.
So both reckless spending and over prudence is foolish, according to Jesus. Which do you tend toward?
The question remains then, How should a missional family approach money?
5 things a missional family budgets for
1. Providing for your brothers and sisters in need
It’s when a brother loses a job, someone’s car dies, or a mom can’t stay home with her kids without her income. You need to help provide. This must be built in. If you’re not expecting to help out when needs arise, you won’t be generous. Budget a significant percentage of your income toward the needs of others in the family of God.
2. Giving to strangers in need
This isn’t the same as giving to charity. This is being ready and willing to give sacrificially to someone whose need has landed in your path. In the moment you’re faced with it, you had better feel compassion, and you had better be ready to give without fretting about how this will throw off your budget. So build it in. Expect it. You can coordinate this budget item with other households in the family of God.
Budgeting for hospitality may be as simple as putting a halt to your frugality and turning on the heat when guests come over in October (Yes, in Minnesota we have to turn the heat on in October). It also may be as extravagant as having a bottle of decent wine and dinner for your guests. Maybe it’s budgeting in some home renovations so you can provide a guest bedroom for someone. Hospitality needs to be built into your budget or you will be stingy with guests.
4. Getting out, having fun, and resting like pros
Restful recreation has to be budgeted in for three reasons: 1) You’ll burn out if you don’t, 2) Your wife and kids need to have fun with you, and 3) Your family needs to be visible in your community. This is how you ensure all three.
5. Funding the mission
The reality is, the mission requires resources. Duh. You need to consider, together with your family, how you can multiply the mission beyond your home. Is your church on mission? Then your best move is to help fund your church. In Acts, everyone submitted their money to the apostles who distributed it for the mission. It worked for them. However, if your church is not on mission–and your concerned about your money being spent on extravagant building projects, private jets, and prostitutes–consider supporting missionaries overseas. Also, find a new church.