A week ago when I published “5 Impractical Ways To Save Your Family Money In 2013,” I intentionally left off one crucial way that I believe our family saves money. Maybe it’s not so much about it saving us money, as much as it helps us manage our budget with even more discipline and focus.
In fact, out of the 5 impractical ways I listed, I see this “6th way” as not only undeniably impractical, but the most important, for our family, at least:
For us, that means we give 10% of our paychecks to our church. From there, a lot of that money goes to helping people not only in our area, but all over the world.
Of course, that 10% of our income isn’t the only money we give to help others, because we help financially support other non-profit organizations that help people too.
But right off the top of every paycheck, we know that 10% of it goes to our church, which in turn helps other people.
I should be clear about something: It’s not that we have a 10% excess in our income. Not at all. Instead, we build our budget around the 10% we tithe.
“If you cannot live off 90% of your income, then you cannot live off 100%.”
If this can make any sense, we can’t afford not to tithe.
We believe that God will bless our family’s efforts as we acknowledge that what we have is not ours to begin with; instead, everything we have is what God has given to us.
So to “give back” 10%, technically isn’t giving back.
But I believe a lot of the importance of tithing has to do with the mindset it puts a family in. In the likeness of feng shui, tithing constantly keeps us mindful of where each dollar we earn goes.
Just like the importance of having a solid weekly budget on Excel, tithing helps us tell our money where to go, before it can tell us where to go.
Therefore, I think tithing is even a good idea for families who don’t go to church, as well as, those who aren’t particularly religious at all.
I would venture to say that a family who always gives at least 10% of their income to, at least, a charity that helps the needy, even if it’s not through a religious organization, is still going to find that they manage their money better than before they started promising to give away 10% of their income.
Sure, giving away 10% of every paycheck is pretty extreme and not necessarily normal.
But I suppose for a family who doesn’t pay for cable or satellite TV, or Internet on our phones, or for the fact we don’t really dine out, or update our electronics, I guess it’s not really that much of a shock that we automatically give away 10% of our income.
Everyone has their own approach to it that they feel most comfortable with and find to be the most effective. But I’m for certain that no parent disciplines their child in secret hopes of making them suffer indefinitely for their offenses.
Instead, we want our children to mature and become less selfish. We want the best for them. By doing so, we make the world a better place.
So here’s something I think is messed up about us as adults: It’s way too easy for us to want to see other people cursed and suffer when they offend us, rather than them being blessed and enriched.
If someone cuts us off in traffic, they are automatically a jerk who deserves to be flipped off.
No matter how good of a person they may be outside of that single moment. Forget about how hard they work for their family and how they help others out of the goodness of their hearts.
For cutting us off, they become labeled as idiots who have no hope of redemption.
In fact, in that heat of the moment, the thought of that person being redeemed is absurd. It’s natural and easy to generalize them into an evil and moronic imbecile who intends to make your life hell; or at least annoying.
Simply said, we want that person to suffer. Who cares about forgiveness, redemption, or reconciliation.
And then, for all we know, the next day we coincidentally see them at the gas station and they say to us, “Excuse me, but you dropped this.”
They hand to you your debit card which slipped out of your wallet. You thank them; neither of you even aware of the incident the day before.
We discipline our children to help them, not privately wish bad things upon them. Yet we so easily want to judge and punish those who slightly offend us or have the opposite view as we do on a political or parenting issue that doesn’t even personally concern us.
By the way, if you live in Nashville, I’ve probably cut you off before on the road. But only because you seemed to be going slower than you actually were, but I realized it only after I had already pulled out in front of you.
Oops. My bad.
Here’s a quote from my favorite song right now, performed by 10th Avenue North:
“Why do we think that hate’s gonna change their heart?
We’re up in arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
But pride won’t let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but just to burn them down
We think pain is owed apologies and then it’ll stop
But truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not”
Maybe you recently read “8 Non-Religious Reasons To Take Your Kids To Church” and now you’re thinking, “Okay, I see how that could be a good thing for my family but there are so many churches out there, I just feel overwhelmed. I simply wouldn’t know where to start.”
For someone who is new or unfamiliar to the church scene, I recommend the kind of church that meets at a school, where everybody pretty much wears jeans to the service.
Often the names of these “purpose driven” churches include phrases like family, life, community, and fellowship as opposed to official denominational ties, such as Baptist, for example.
They are easy to Google and definitely have a constantly updated website letting you know what exciting activities are going on there.
These churches are typically designed with you, the newcomer, in mind. They have a much more casual setting with a more open, feng shui feel. No pews, for example.
Churches like this are a natural magnet for younger families with children. And that’s hugely important for you as you consider joining a church community.
There may be a band leading the worship music in some likeness of Coldplay (or Lady Antebellum) while coffee and snacks (often free) are served nearby.
I predict at a place like this, you won’t feel like you’re being held over hell like a marshmallow, but instead will feel welcome and part of the crowd.
You can also expect the pastor to be less preachy and more teachy. You’ll feel like he’s talking to you, not at you.
That’s not to say that churches that don’t follow the “purpose driven” model are predictably stiff, outdated, and judgmental, but I do think that a church that fits the model I have described is going to have a better chance of not making you feel out of place, as a newcomer.
What matters is that you find the church that is the best cultural fit for your family so you will want to go back, not feel like you’re supposed to or have to.
I don’t think church is supposed to be boring. I think it’s supposed to be full of abundant life. That’s the kind of church I hope you find for your family.
Year after year, polls like this recent one by Gallup show that “churchgoers” not only experience more positive emotions but also less negative emotions than people who do not regularly attend church, synagogue, or mosque.
So maybe you’re not like me; having been intrigued since Kindergarten on how we all got here and what happens to us after we die.
This is for the agnostics who are curious about taking their kids to church, as well as, for those who haven’t had much exposure to church but are curious enough to consider checking it out.
Therefore, I am attempting to explain why going to church is a good idea for you and your kids, not from a religious perspective, but from more of a scientific one.
1. Friends. For you as well as your kids. Most of my friends and my wife’s friends are somehow traced back to our church. In fact, we met each other through a mutual friend that I met through a group of friends I knew through my church.
2. Community. Similarly, you find yourself among other people who are bound to have things in common with you and your children; even if it’s just the fact you are parents with kids around the same age at the same place.
3. Activities and events. There is always something happening on the church calendar and much of it involves free food. Not to mention, most of the activities themselves don’t cost anything to participate. Basically, it’s free entertainment with families you have stuff in common with.
4. Child care. Free child care. While you are in the main worship service, as well as Sunday School, your kids are being supervised and taught in their own age appropriate Sunday School and worship service where they make you crafts out of construction paper and popsicle sticks.
5. Family values. Church is a great place to get moral reinforcement. It’s no secret that pop culture, everyday life, and even just our own negativity can be a drag on our ideal personal standards.
6. Motivation. Imagine the hope that comes out of the belief that the creator of this universe not only loves you but has a plan for your life. When you go to and belong to a church, you are exposed to a way of thinking that ultimately affects how you see the world, yourself, and others.
7. Opportunities to help others. You’d be amazed at some of the unique ways you can help others and your community through your church. It is likely you will find a venue to serve others in a way that is framed around your talents and abilities.
8. Routine. When you expose yourself and your kids to all this positivity every week, after a while you’re bound to see a noticeable difference in the way your family interacts.
Even if you have trouble believing in all the religious aspects of going to church, there is evidently something to the fact that people who go are generally more positive and less negative.
The way I look at it; even if at the end of my life I was wrong about God this entire time and when we die, we just die and that’s it, I still wouldn’t regret having believed.
Because if nothing else, I had a sense of hope amidst all of life’s uncertainties. Not to mention, as the polls show, I lived a happier life than had I not believed.
But I do believe. And I invite you to check it out. Even if it’s just for your kid.
Feel free to email me (look at the top right side of this page) if you’d like for me to personally help you find some good churches in your area. I’ll try to make sure you don’t end up going to some kooky place where they drink poisoned Kool-Aid or attempt to catch a ride in a UFO that follows a magical comet.