Handling Finances as a Christian: Budgeting 101


Why budget?

Scripture tells us that our money and possessions are not ours, but God’s. We are simply managers and stewards of what is His. As part of our church family, we want you to be equipped to be a good steward of the finances that God has entrusted to you. Below are a few ways to get started.

Have a written budget

Scripture calls Christians to plan to do good (Proverbs 14:22). This includes planning how to steward our finances and resources. Budgeting can often be seen as an intimidating process. However, in planning a budget, it can actually be a joyful and exciting process to plan for how you are going to invest in the lives of people and advance God’s kingdom through finances. 

Make cuts to your budget

As a starting place, Proverbs 3:9 says to “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine.” In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells his disciples, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Scripture calls us to entrust ourselves to God with our first fruits, not the leftovers. In doing so, God actually promises all that we could ever need or want (Proverbs 11:24). Therefore, as we begin our budgeting process, we should always begin with tithing a tenth of our income towards the local church and investing in God’s kingdom where we are. This does not mean that we do not financially support other local organizations or missionaries serving overseas. Rather, our tithing to our local church is a baseline for all giving to grow from.

From here, we plan to provide for the needs of ourselves and our family. This will include things such as food, clothing, water, homes and utilities. Crazy as it might sound, this might not include having cable, the latest video game console, the designer pair of jeans or a nicer car. Make cuts in your budgets for things you can go without. 

Review your budget regularly with people you trust that can speak into your life

Our hearts often deceive us and what we may believe to be a need may actually be our heart craving to fill itself and find identity in something new rather than in Christ (Jeremiah 17:9). One way to fight for contentment is to open up our lives, including our budgets, to those around us. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” On a personal level, this will look like allowing your Lifegroup and other trusted friends to have input into your life and your finances. 

Here’s how we practically implement these steps at Midtown. Twice a year, we go through our budgeting process. During this process, we plan for the coming months in expectation of what we are going to receive in donations and how we are going to steward the resources God has entrusted to us.

  • For our spring budget process, an email is sent out to all of our ministry teams on November 1 to begin submitting budgets for the spring (January to July).
  • During November, our ministry teams meet together, pray through and come up with a plan for how much money to spend for their area of ministry. The budget for their ministry area is submitted for review along with a description of how the funds will be used and why it should not be cut. 
  • By December 10, the lead pastors of our various churches meet to review the requested budgets and make any necessary cuts that are needed.
  • By December 15, we meet with our financial advising team, which is made up of a few missionary members within our church family. During this meeting, we do a comprehensive, big picture financial review. We review and receive feedback from this team on our current approved budget and current financial state of our church.
  • Finally, we post the approved budget on for all of our staff to use and adhere to. In addition, should an expense come up during our budget cycle that was unexpected and not budgeted for, our ministry leaders submit an overspend request to be reviewed by the lead pastors of each church.

Our desire is for our church family to view and handle financial resources correctly through the lens of the gospel. For additional teaching on budgeting and using wealth well, you can listen to the sermons below:


Money Health Diagnostic

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

In a bacon-and-egg breakfast, what's the difference between the chicken and the pig?

The chicken is involved, but the pig is really committed.

To help you really commit and faithfully take next steps in light of what Jesus has been teaching us throughout this series, we are giving you a money health diagnostic tool. The goal with this tool is to use it as a personal inventory of your heart when it comes to money.

For most people in our culture, money is often seen as a massively private issue.  The problem with that is that left in the darkness of isolated secrecy, money problems do not tend to fix themselves. Similarly, left in the darkness of isolated secrecy, our hearts do not tend to fix themselves or repent very well.

So when Jesus calls us to walk in the light because He has made us children of the light (Ephesians 5:8-14), He’s not cursing us. He’s inviting us into His blessing. He’s inviting us into His freedom and His peace. The best, most biblically faithful way for real spiritual growth to happen in the area of our finances is for us to honestly deal with our finances in the context of community.

So use the Money Health Diagnostic as a personal tool and use it as a discussion guide to help talk about your finances in your LifeGroup. Use it as a tool to help keep your cash clear and help you grow in being rich towards God.

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This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

A Little Help From Our Friends

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

Each of the following men have been influential in helping our staff honor Jesus in our financial management and grow in generosity to send our wealth ahead by investing in Jesus’ kingdom and mission. Check out their resources for further study, or give them some love for helping us lead and teach you.

Dave Ramsey @DaveRamsey It’s been funny throughout this series how many people have come up to me and asked me, “Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey?! He teaches a lot of the same stuff y'all are teaching in this series!” The simple answer is yes. Although I haven’t been actively listening to or learning a lot from Dave, he was absolutely instrumental in helping me learn a lot of basics of personal finance when I was in college. From nationally syndicated radio shows, to regional classes and online tools, Dave is a great resource to help you start living on a budget and be more wise and generous in giving more of your riches away.

Ronald Blue @KingdomAdvisors Ronald Blue provides clients with biblically sound wisdom on planning, investing and maximizing generosity (i.e. the longest term investment). He has worked for and started multiple successful financial businesses, including Ronald Blue & Co. (personal financial advisors) and Kingdom Advisors (training for biblical financially-minded people to assist others). He also provided the bucket illustration that we gladly stole and adapted for our sermon Wise, Wicked or Lazy. Thanks Ron!

Randy Alcorn @RandyAlcorn Randy is an author who has written many books including two that were particularly helpful for our treasure hunting series. If you’d like to read more to continue growing in your faithful, biblical financial management in light of eternity, read his book Money, Possessions & Eternity, or if you have less time to spare, the shorter version Treasure Principle.

Steve Von Fange Steve is a relatively new missionary member to the Midtown family, and his gracious generosity and wisdom have already been very helpful.  He is about to start leading a LifeGroup, provided a free day of financial training for our staff, is father to one of our resident interns and graciously offered to teach a Personal Finance Seminar for our church family in conjunction with our Treasure Hunting Series. Steve, thanks for graciously giving yourself to our family and being in on Jesus’ mission for our city!

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.

Money Management Principles

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

In Sunday's sermon, we looked at four money management principles taken from a parable that Jesus tells in Matthew 25:14-30 (he tells another version of this parable in Luke 19:11-27). These four money management principles are a tiny portion of the hundreds of biblical wisdom principles for how we handle our finances. But they are also some of the most foundational principles to help us view our money in light eternity and in light of who God is.

Money Management Principle #1: It’s all God’s. (Matthew 25:14-15, Psalm 50:10-12, Haggai 2:8) Everything in all of creation is God’s. There’s nothing He doesn’t rightly look at say, “Mine!” In Psalm 50, He goes as far as to say that if He was hungry (for a delicious steak wrapped in bacon hypothetically), He wouldn’t ask us for food. He has plenty.  The fact that God owns everything means He doesn’t need our money. But it also means, we need to understand that He owns it or we will never learn how to handle it correctly.

Money Management Principle #2: I have a job to do. (Matthew 25:14-15, Proverbs 27:23-24, Proverbs 6:6-11) Because everything is God’s, whatever He has given us is a trust that we are called to manage faithfully. What God has given us includes every opportunity, every relationship, every talent, every bit of leadership ability...and it also includes every dollar. We are Jesus’ account managers charged with the task of bringing a return on his investment in our lives.

Money Management Principle #3: It’s not about how much I get; it’s about being faithful. (Matthew 25:15-18, 1 Corinthians 4:2) People get different amounts; different amounts of intellect, different amounts of opportunity, different amounts of ability, different amounts and quality of parenting. And people get different amounts of money. The question isn’t 'how much did you get?' The question isn’t 'why didn’t you get more or why did so-and-so get so much?' The question is 'were you faithful with what you were given?'

Stop believing that if you got more, then you would start working hard, planning well and giving sacrificially and faithfully. Money is a heart issue, not a salary issue. If you won’t give now, if you won’t be faithful now with a little, then getting more money will not magically change your heart to want to work hard, be faithful or give more.

Money Management Principle #4: My money reveals my heart. (Matthew 25:19-30, Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34) Every financial decision I make is a spiritual decision. Every financial decision I make reveals my heart. Every financial decision reveals what I value on planet earth. If I don’t value God’s kingdom, then my money will not flow towards God’s kingdom. Money is an objective truth teller that reveals what my heart truly treasures.

So what is your money saying about your heart? Are you listening to what your wallet is preaching about you?  How loudly is your money proclaiming to the world that Jesus is what you treasure most?

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.