Money & Mission-Minded Families

By monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry.

As Christian families, we need God’s perspective on finances, and a vision for how our resources can help to expand His kingdom – especially in tough times.

In our family’s living room, a small handcrafted treasure chest displays simple coins from around the world. Most of the pieces are dull and worn, while some a new and shiny. Our children often enjoy fingering the various francs from France, pulas from Botswana, and euros from Europe, to mention just a few. My favorite is an intricate gold-and-silver-colored piece from Italy, although, as with most of these coins, I have no idea of its worth. Some of the coins are no longer in circulation; some of the countries they’re from no longer exist. All are simply extra pocket change left over from years of past mission trips, each saved as little souvenirs and little reminders that money is only a temporary “little thing.” Each coin is (or was) valuable only because some government somewhere determined it would have value.

But money is also a “big thing” – and we can’t underestimate the importance of training our children to have a godly perspective toward money and financial stewardship.

Our money represents our life; our time, our talents, our education and experiences, and our priorities. In fact, if we really want to find out what is important to us, we can simply look back through our checkbooks and credit card statements over the past few months. Our true priorities are right there in black and white (or red!); and the numbers don’t lie.

It’s really very simple. If we have a heart for the Lord and for the lost, we will give our resources to glorify Him and to help spread His Gospel message; and if our children are raised with this perspective, it will affect their bottom-line attitude toward the purpose of money. Both parents and children need to acknowledge regularly that everything we have ultimately belongs to God: our life is God’s, our home (or bedroom) is God’s, our car (or bicycle, or special toy) is God’s, our money is God’s.

We’re all simply stewards of God’s “stuff.”

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, J.G. Morrison urged Nazarenes to increase missionary support, as he earnestly pleaded: “Can’t you do just a little bit more?”

When times are tough, our families need to “sow in famine” (like Isaac in Genesis 26:12) and “lay up treasures in heaven” (like Jesus commanded in Matthew 6:20). Physical needs worldwide are greater than ever; orphan children desperately need help; sacrificing missionaries need continual support and prayers; and billions of people need to hear the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

During today’s economic downturn, let’s do more for the needs of world missions. Let’s be faithful stewards of the many resources God has given us, and let’s encourage our children to participate.

As mission-minded families, let’s do just a little bit more.

The post is adapted from my book, The Mission-Minded Family. Right now, our mission outreach, Harvest Ministry, is running a special on my two-book-set (The Mission-Minded Child & The Mission-Minded Family — at our COST!). We also have a new FREE 30-page guide using these books (to mentor your family or a small group in a 4-week study). If you’re interested in learning more, please CONTACT me through our website, and put “MM-FAMILIES SUMMER SPECIAL” in the subject line, and I’ll send you more information (with no obligation). My heart is to motivate families for missions — right now, right where you’re at!!!

Missionary Hudson Taylor said, “The Great Commission is not an option to consider, it is a command to obey.” I say, “Missions is not just for missionaries; God’s call is for all!”

Blessings to you and yours!!!

About ADunagan

Ann Dunagan is a longtime homeschooling mother of 7 (ages 11 to 25, with 4 graduates), an international speaker with Harvest Ministry, co-founder of orphan ministries in East Africa and India (caring for over 700 children), and author of several books including The Mission-Minded Family. With a passion for the Lord and the lost, Ann motivates families for world missions.

9 Responses to Money & Mission-Minded Families

  1. Cee Rose August 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Appreciated this article, especially the J.G. Morrison quote, “Can’t you do just a little bit [email protected]

  2. Bethany August 26, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    Giving is something that is so important for us to teach our children. We are so blessed in this country–even the poor have homes, food, and probably even a television (with cable!). We have so much clean water that we all take it for granted. But there is a whole world out there, and we need to share our wealth with others, who are in need.

    • ADunagan August 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

      Amen, Bethany!!!

      Like Abraham (from Genesis 12:1-3), we’ve been blessed to be a blessing to others.

      Thanks for sharing your heart!

  3. Bri August 26, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    My husband and I have been struggling with the idea of giving lately. Praying for God’s direction in how to give and where. One thing I would love to hear your thoughts on…how much do we give? I’m not asking for a dollar amount, but rather…is there a point at which giving to our church or missions is NOT good stewardship? I just wrote about this on my blog. We know that God provided my husband’s job at a time of great need. However, we are currently behind on our mortgage and having trouble making ends meet. We do give each week to our church though it is quite a ways from the 10% most people feel is appropriate.

    My inclination is to give as much as we can, but how much is that? Does that mean walking out on our mortgage so we can give more? Does it mean giving what we currently give? Does it mean making sure we give our 10% and trust God to provide? Or has God already provided via the job my husband has?

    I wrote more about this on my blog ( and would love your comments on this.

    • Ann Dunagan August 26, 2011 at 11:54 am #


      I appreciate your comments, your questions, and your heart to be good stewards of the resources God has entrusted to your family.

      By definition, a “tithe” is 10% (even on Wikipedia); and this practice was something God established (both for the benefit of God’s kingdom purposes, and for us!!!). Tithing frees us from human greed, it gives us eternal purpose for our earthly labors, and it’s a way of consecrating (setting apart, or dedicating) all of our resources to God.

      For both my husband and me, we have always “tithed” at least 10% of all of our increase, ever since we were little children. If we got $1 in a birthday card, 10 cents was set aside for the Lord; if we’d get $10, we’d give $1 to God. For us, this was always non-negotiable. My dad always encouraged my siblings and me to “tithe 10, save 10, spend the rest.”

      Some people think, today, that we as Christians are no longer bound by Old Testament laws (such as tithing). But tithing began BEFORE the law (as when Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, 400 years before the law was established), and AFTER the law (Hebrews 7:22 shares the Abraham/Melchizek example saying, “Here [on earth] mortal men receive tithes, but there [in heaven] He [Jesus] receives them.”)

      When asked about tithing, even Jesus said in Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter (justice, mercy and faithfulness), without neglecting the former (tithing).”

      Now that we’re living in the New Testament / New Covenant, I personally believe the only difference is that we give to God freely from our heart. It’s not just 10% that belongs to God, but 100%!!! God will give us wisdom to know how to be good stewards of all the resources He has entrusted into our hands, but we see our giving to God as an object lesson of where our heart is at. Just like people in the Bible gave FIRST-fruits to God, or brought their offerings at the FIRST of the week, our family has always given our tithe FIRST — even before paying any personal expenses — including paying for our home, or even buying food. To us, being fully obedient in the area of giving (including tithes, mission offerings, alms — giving to the poor, needy, orphans, widows, and the needy, and anything else God may “tell” us to give) is a basic bottom-line life principle. To us, tithing even comes before toilet paper!

      For our family, it’s how we live. Especially as a full-time missionary family, we totally have to trust God for everything. In over 25 years of marriage and ministry, we’ve actually NEVER had a guaranteed salary, we’ve NEVER worked a non-ministry job, for pay (which was a personal call God gave us when we first entered the ministry), we’ve never NOT tithed . . . and by God’s grace, we’ve NEVER had an overdue bill.

      All I can say is GOD IS AMAZING!!!

    • Sarah August 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

      Hi Bri!

      I wanted to briefly share our financial testimony with you! We have always given – something – but usually to missions. God moved us to a new church 2 years ago where they teach a lot about tithing and we felt like He told us to come under the authority of the church and to tithe 10% to the church.
      At that point, we were in debt – credit cards, school loan, car debt, and barely making ends meet. We asked God in faith – to have us out of debt by June. Totally 100% impossible on our own. This was in December. Amazingly, we were out of debt by MAY. It happened in various ways – a neighbor GAVE us a car, a nice tax return, a bonus at work, an unexpected blessing from my parents, and God simply and awesomely multiplying our finances. We haven’t looked back!


      • Ann Dunagan August 27, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

        Sarah, I really appreciate you sharing your testimony! God is so faithful!!!

  4. Ann Dunagan August 26, 2011 at 5:52 am #


    We’ve also used these international coins as conversation-starters (having friends pick out 5 random coins, and seeing how many different continents are represented), or placing a map on the floor and having children place coins on the country they’re from). Our older kids now have their own “mission treasure boxes” and are now collecting their own!!!

  5. Brooke August 26, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    I loved this article and share your heart’s passion for making Christ known among our children and all the children of the world. Thank you for this well-written post. I will indeed be checking out your books and look forward to learning more from you.
    Especially novel to me was placing all the currency from past mission trips out for the kids to see and talk about. We will be adopting this practice as a family.
    God Bless,