The Greatest Return on Investment

My wife, Jude, made a comment in our small group recently that got me thinking about generosity in a new way. She referred to a household’s giving as a portfolio of Kingdom investments. I like that a lot and can see how thinking of generosity that way could be very encouraging and helpful.

Investments, indeed

By day, I work at Sound Mind Investing, publisher of an investment newsletter with over 7,000 subscribers. We don’t invest money for people. Instead, we provide strategies and specific investment recommendations that subscribers implement themselves at brokers of their choice.

We’re a Christian company, and we take every opportunity to help people understand and follow biblical principles of managing money. However, at the end of the day, the main reason people subscribe is in order to generate good returns in their investment accounts.

While our strategies have outperformed the market long-term, we do our best to manage expectations. No stock market investment strategy will outperform every month or even every year, and as this year has demonstrated, the market is full of surprises.

But there is one investment that always outperforms. It’s an investment in God’s Kingdom work. While the performance of retirement and college-funding portfolios ebb and flow, investments in God’s economy consistently spread God’s love and compassion, change lives, and even help shape eternities.  

A portfolio review

I think it’s helpful to see our giving that way, as an investment. And it’s helpful to evaluate our Kingdom investments in ways that are similar to how we evaluate our stock market investments. Are they properly diversified? Are they in the right sectors? 

To that end, I created a pie chart that looks at my wife’s and my Kingdom investment portfolio. Of the total dollars that we give to Christ-centered ministries, here’s how it breaks out on a percentage basis.

Drilling down a bit deeper, here’s a closer look at some of these investments.

The local church

Our church is easy to support because it’s involved in so many worthy initiatives, such as:

  • Teaching God’s Word across 12 campuses and online
  • Providing meals, mortgage assistance, and other help to families in crisis due to the pandemic
  • Facilitating connections for foster care and adoption
  • Staffing and supplying medical centers in poor countries around the world
  • Supporting the work of missionaries around the world
  • And so much more

Campus Ministry

Before we got married, my wife was on staff with Cru, a ministry that works with college students on campuses throughout the world. College is such a crucial stage in people’s lives. We greatly value the work of this ministry and enjoy supporting numerous missionaries who are on staff with Cru in various capacities and in various places.

Periodic Gifts

While much of our giving is done on a monthly or quarterly basis, we’ve allocated a portion of our giving portfolio to periodic gifts as God puts new ministries or needs on our hearts. This year, that has included:

  • Numerous other missionaries
  • An inner city Chicago ministry that provides a wide range of services in its community, from jobs training to after-school tutoring
  • An international disaster relief organization that provides medical and other forms of emergency aid in Christ’s name, whether during the COVID-19 pandemic or in the aftermath of natural disasters
  • A ministry to refugees from Nepal, providing skills training, income-earning work opportunities, and Bible study
  • A ministry that provides much-needed retreats to refresh and encourage missionaries in foreign countries

Children Living in Poverty

We appreciate the work Compassion International is doing to provide for the material and spiritual needs of children around the world and are currently supporting two young people in Burkina Faso and one in the Philippines.

Student Athletes

With each of our children involved in sports in some fashion, we’ve seen firsthand the effective work Fellowship of Christian Athletes is doing in our schools and recently began supporting this work.

Motives matter

Please don’t misunderstand any of this. It isn’t like we’re giving away millions of dollars (I wish!). This is simply a look at how the total amount we give breaks out across ministries. And I hope this doesn’t come across as bragging. I’m well aware of the biblical counsel from Matthew 6 to do our giving in secret. But I was encouraged by some writing Randy Alcorn has done on this topic, where he stressed the importance of our motives.

My motivation for writing this post was simply that when my wife used investment-related terminology to describe giving, that really resonated with me and I thought it might be helpful for others as well.

Plus, for me personally, as we’ve automated more of our giving, I realized in writing this post that I’ve become somewhat disconnected from the joy of giving. While we get newsletters and other updates from the ministries we support, and they’re always very motivating, there was something especially encouraging about looking at our giving broken out as above. It enabled me to see with fresh eyes where we have the privilege of playing some small role in God’s work around the world.  

It was also helpful in a very practical way to review the list and objectively consider what might be missing. One glaring hole, given all that’s happening in our world today, is racial justice. We’re aware of several ministries working in this area and are in conversation about which one(s) to invest in.

My encouragement to you is to see your giving much like you might view an investment portfolio. I hope that doing so will be a blessing to you and may spur you on to further acts of love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).

Take it to heart: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21

Take action: Try creating a pie chart or spreadsheet that shows your various Kingdom investments. Use it as a reminder to pray for the ministries you support.

Read more: The Eternity Portfolio 


6 Responses to The Greatest Return on Investment

  1. Scott September 16, 2020 at 8:39 PM #

    Really interesting concept, Matt. Food for thought. Thanks for sharing.

    • Matt Bell September 17, 2020 at 10:49 AM #

      You’re welcome, Scott. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Diana Linscott September 15, 2020 at 1:29 PM #

    Thank you for this advice. I appreciate your openness on this topic. It’s always been a mystery to me as to how other believers disperse their giving. Very helpful! Thank you.

    • Matt Bell September 15, 2020 at 4:10 PM #

      So glad it was helpful, Diana. Thanks for letting me know.

      • Doug September 15, 2020 at 8:09 PM #

        Matt this was a blessing, thank you.

        • Matt Bell September 16, 2020 at 7:58 AM #

          You’re welcome, Doug. Glad you found it helpful.

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