A question I get asked a lot is: What IS ‘Mission Money’ anyways?
That’s a fair question. It’s a term I coined, so it probably deserves it’s own explanation. And even a new way of looking at money altogether.
Put succinctly, ‘Mission Money’ is the funds used to move towards or advance the call, mission or purpose of your life. Each of those are big buzz words and mean different things in different circles, but an analogy may help.
When I managed a bank, I had a corporate card. WIth that corporate card I could purchase literally anything. It was just a credit card. But at the end of the month, I had to submit an expense report. My boss, expected that the money put on that expense card had a legitimate business reason.
I could go to eat at a nice restaraunt, but I better be meeting with a client.
I could buy pizzza, but it better be for team-building with my employees.
I could buy cookies (you see the theme here yet?), but they better be part of my marketing strategy.
“Mission Money’ is the dollars we spend that we would put on our heavenly ‘expense card’ if we had one.
As the son of a CPA, you could think of it another way. ‘Mission Money’ are the expenses you would write off, if expenses associated with advancing the Kingdom of God were tax deductible.
Too often in Christian money I see two extremes views of money, neither which are healthy or Biblical.
Over-savers live by the mantra ‘Frugality is next to Spirituality’. Somehow they have interpreted the Parable of the Talents as a literal admonishing to be ‘responsible’ with money, and to them that translates into hoarding cash. This group is reticent to spend money out to eat, tip liberally, or purchase necessary tools for life or ministry.
The problem with this view is, we serve an infinite God who prepared good works in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). To submit the plans of our infinite God to the bounds of our limited wallet isn’t very faithful or Biblical. Jesus admonishes his disciples to not take a sack of gold, or an extra tunic with them (Luke 10:4). He’s saying ‘Go’, I’ll worry about the provision.
Some of my best ministry has been done over a $50 lunch. Some of the people I’ve most blessed have been from a $20 tip. And every time I’ve bought something in order to accomplish something I felt like God was calling me into, but wasn’t sure I had the money for, the money showed up anyways.
But we need to be careful lest we slip into ‘Magical Thinking’.
The Magical Thinkers
Magical thinkers flip the script. Their mantra is ‘It’s not faith, if it’s not risky’. This camp expects God to come through with all the cash they need for what they want to do, at the last hour, with very little work on their part.
While I’ve seen God do some amazing financial miracles, there’s two dangerous pitfalls of this way of thinking.
First, Discernment is a key aspect of ‘Mission Money’. You have to actually be on God’s Mission, in order to be spending ‘Mission Money.’ Checking with outside counsel, praying, and being honest about what you hope to gain out of an expense or savings strategy are all necessary steps to identify if you are taking a ‘faith move’ or a ‘me move.’ Too often these folks look at any dissenting opinion as ‘doubt’ or ‘negative vibes’ and when their plans fall through and the money doesn’t show up they deride themselves for not having enough faith.
Second, Magical thinkers miss the point of the Mission. While I hope you bring a lot of people to Christ, you end world hunger and you restore the faith of nations. That’s actually not the goal. The goal is to do the work of healing the world WITH Jesus. When we expect Jesus to show up and heal the world the way we want it healed, we miss out on the best part of following Christ, which is the intimacy of doing work WITH him. God calls us to take steps of planning, work and wisdom, not because he ‘needs us to be successful’, as I heard one podcaster state, but because he desires to work with us in relationship as he does the healing.
Lord of the universe wants me on his team? Get me off this bench!
What is ‘Mission Money’ in My Budget
Determining, what is Mission Money for you, isn’t that hard with my new Mission Minded Money Budget Worksheet.
It breaks your budget up into three main categories, so you can determine “is enough of my budget going toward what is ‘mission money’ for me?
You can learn more about my budgeting strategy here.
The three categories are
- Daily Bread (What I need to survive)
- Mission Money (what I need to accomplish my life’s purpose)
- Overflow spending (the things I get to have just because Jesus likes to bless me)
Some Parts of What Mission Money is, is probably obvious. But others might be a new way to think for you.
- Tithing- Giving money to the church (Hopefully that’s not a surprise)
- Patron Support- Supporting other ministers who are ‘on mission’ either by giving to their organizations or them personally.
- Benevolence- Giving money to people more economically disadvantaged than you, preferably personally, but potentially through a ministry to the poor.
- Equipping- Has God maybe called you to a specific people group? Learn the language. Called to ministry? Start training. Do you know you have some trauma or a broken marriage that is debilitating your ability to advance God’s plan for you. Get counseling. Do you want to start a business or retool your career? Take a class. Christians hesitation to pay for this category I am convinced has caused a dire shortage of well equipped ministers in all aspects of church and secular life.
- Engaging– All Christians are called to make disciples, but we can’t make disciples if we don’t:
- Meet People- Maybe you don’t NEED to buy that coffee, but that’s where you meet your neighbors. Perhaps you COULD work out at home, but you get acquainted with more people there. Perhaps the kids league you are paying for is expensive, but you have the opportunity to minister to other parents. As Christians we need to be in the world, to heal the world.
- Invite People- Let’s face it. Your not-yet-believing friends do not want to go to church. But they might want to go to a game night, a wine tasting, a block party or a sporting event. These ‘luxuries’ cost money, but they are the lynchpin of building community. And that’s something the world needs now more than ever!
- Care for People- People need to be heard. A private setting like a lunch, golfing together, or going to the spa together can be a place to make real true 1 on 1 connections with people that lead them one more step towards Jesus.
- Savings Strategies- I’m not anti-saving. I just think it needs properly ordered in our budgets. At some point God may call you to quit your job, move across the country, or give a big chunk of change to a ministry. Let’s face it, eventually your body will give out and it’d be nice not to be a burden on someone else for money. Having a savings strategy is essential to having ‘dry powder’ to invest in God’s Kingdom when it’s needed.
What is mission money God is calling you to spend? Do you have any room in your budget? Can you afford to move towards the calling God has for your life? Are you naturally an ‘over-saver’ or a ‘magical thinker’? Is God challenging you to reorient your spending? I continually produce resources to help you align your money with your calling. You can subscribe to my newsletter below or shoot me an email and I’d love to help you get on mission.
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