The Retirement Reformation meets Future Funded Ministry

Every Christian is challenged to play a role in building God’s Kingdom here on earth. That call to action extends for a lifetime and not just a season or ending in what the world calls retirement.

Because that challenge extends to the end of our lives, the duration may well continue for 30 years. Somewhere during those years, sources of income to fund the activity, ministry, and actions impacting others will diminish or dry up entirely.

Recently, I received a call from a longtime friend who lives in a retirement facility. He just moved to an assisted living area that costs $4,300 per month. Sadly, the amount of money he had in his various accounts would only last 13 months at this rate.

He was calling to ask, "What do I do in the 14th month?" I spoke with the facility's Executive Director and explained the problem. Fortunately, they have a benevolence fund that could pay the difference between my friend's Social Security income and the increased monthly cost. This solution was in stark contrast to what he feared: “I guess I’ll have to die in the next 12 months.”

The term "Future Funded Ministry" was given to me in the mid 90’s by a group of ministers struggling with the issue of saving for retirement. The thought, “God will take care of me during retirement,” has been the common refrain in past years and some circles still today. As illustrated above, if you die before the money runs out, it may work out that way.

Setting aside resources today for ministry in the future is what Future Funded Ministry is all about. It recognizes the reality of longevity and the ongoing call to ministry. As suggested above, money plays a role in virtually every decision, both short term and long term. It is important how we steward God’s financial resources. However, there is so much more to God’s call on our lives during our senior years.

Our society, and sadly most Christians, focus on retirement funding, or the lack thereof, as the primary retirement issue. Strange as it may sound from someone who has dedicated 30 years with helping Christians save, money is the least important part of the retirement equation. This is where the "Retirement Reformation," a new movement to change the way we view retirement, comes in.

With all the emphasis on having enough money, we’ve lost the most important priority. Studying God’s word, we learn that God has a plan for our lives, which was conceived before the beginning of time. Also, each phase of our lives, from birth to death, plays a role and prepares us for the next stage.

Ministry is defined as “changed lives.”

We each have a part impacting others to move forward in their spiritual and relationship journeys. It may mean we help in physical ways too, but only as a part of the process opening the highway to heaven. The goal of the Retirement Reformation is to help move Christians from focusing on leisurely indifference to active caring.

The challenge we face is not an economic one but a spiritual one with an economic component.

Reflecting Jesus to the world requires the greatest change in most of us. Thankfully, Jesus carried through on his promise that his Holy Spirit is with us providing guidance, protection, and growing Godly wisdom. While we trust Him to provide resources, it is part of the operating plan that we steward all the resources provided: spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, and financial. Not just financial or one of these, but all of them.

Life is a spiritual journey with God.

He designed us for a relationship with him. That relationship extends to the end of our earthly time, and then takes on additional dimensions in eternity. The Retirement Reformation recognizes God’s call on our lives and promotes the unity of believers reflecting Jesus and impacting the world. It also focuses on the preparation, the DNA of meaning taking place during the 50 plus years of preparation. The reformation that takes place in our thinking then extends to our unique call to ministry during the last 30 years.

We begin our personal reformation, changed thinking, by embracing the truths of the Retirement Reformation. One of those truths includes the future funding of ministry. It is preceded by the recognition to follow God’s unique call on our lives to the very end. The Retirement Reformation meets Future Funded Ministry at the juxtaposition of changed thinking and future planning; at the crossroad of God’s call to be and the challenge to go.

Bruce Bruinsma