By Stephen R. Phinney 

Did you know that the home is the heart of a nation?  It is true.  The Hebrew structure of family reveals that the head of a home is called a governor and community authority is to rest upon his left shoulder.  The view comes from our observations of Jesus Christ.  In the first family, God is the Father/Patriarch of the family, Jesus is the husband, and the Church is the Bride.  From this first family, God has established cities, nations, and even the world. 
The early Church grew in numbers and effectiveness primarily due to the home being viewed as the primary base of the local church.  I know – you were taught that the family is an extension of the local church down on the corner of Jefferson and Franklin, but it simply is NOT true.  Early indwelt Christians would meet daily in various homes, to exhort each other from the Word of God, pray, and then be released to the world to accomplish the Great Commission.  
Today, home churches are the wave of the future, but are still considered the “odd man out.”  I can assure you that in due time, the home church structure WILL return and be the norm for all true indwelt Christians.  It’s funny though; most local churches in the world are underground churches that meet in homes, shacks, and caves.  But here in America, if a church doesn’t have a building – it’s not a REAL church.  Personally, I think America is in for a serious reality check.  After spending the past 10 years studying the history of countries from all over the world, my conclusion is that America is the most deceived and arrogant of them all.  Well, enough of my soap box – let’s get back to how we should be spending our money.
In spite of the American view of “home-based ministries,” homes abound with opportunities for effective spiritual outreach.  Each of these outreach opportunities is and will continue to be used by Jesus Christ to accomplish His mission.  These outreach venues also provide a perfect direction for funds spent by the family income.  Here are a few ways to consider:
HOME-BASED BIBLE STUDIES:  A good example of this is my dear wife.  She has been sponsoring women’s Bible Studies in and out of our home for many years.  I rarely question the moneys spent on DVD’s or workbooks to accomplish such a mission.  Many family and friends are introduced to the truest things about Christ through this venue.  Most community-based local churches today do not teach the core victorious truths of “Not I but Christ.”  Due to this problem, my wife and I are very quick to provide such teachings for the community at large.  It needs to be noted that we do not advocate separating singles or teenagers from these groups.  Men’s groups should be 13 years of age on up and the same for women’s groups.  Segregation of the Body of Christ IS what destroyed the local church – thanks to Thomas Jefferson.
HOME FELLOWSHIPS:  Home churches are not as scary as you might think.  If the local community-based church used “home fellowships” as a part of its growth plan, most wouldn’t think twice about attending one.  But, to actually start a Home Fellowship that functions like the local church – well, that is a different matter altogether.  We really are a funny kind of people.  God is not into 501c3 government run and approved certifications.  He is into building up the Body of Christ for the work of service unto the accomplishment of the Great Commission. Home Fellowships are a perfect breeding ground for life upon life discipleship. 
MISSION PROJECTS:  Our family has supported mission projects and missionaries all over the world, for most of our adult lives.  We have stories of touched lives because of it.  One time, my eldest daughter and I made a mission trek over to Kenya, travelled over 4 hours in a jeep until the jeep could not drive any further, and then walked another mile or two – just to reach our sponsored child and her family.  It was one of our life adventures that we will remember for eternity.  Mission moneys should not only go “overseas,” but also in your backyard.  Spend some hard earned cash on turning your home into a mission project, like packing food boxes that go to local needy people. 
Mission service projects build family, fellowship, and community. Not only that, but they teach others how to serve and give THEIR hard earned moneys to others. 
NEIGHBORHOOD BUILDING:  One idea that occasionally works, depending on your neighbors, is neighborhood street parties, God-style.  Once a year (or more), turn your front lawn and driveway into a party center.  Put up a tent, heat up the grill, and provide plenty of family friendly activities – all directed at getting to know one another.  You don’t have to turn it into an evangelism drive, just have some fun.  Fun, food, and fellowship oftentimes speak more to your neighbors than your preaching; although, always be ready for a good preach. 
VISITING WIDOWS AND ORPHANS:  The growing reality of our world around us is that more and more families are becoming fatherless and oftentimes without parents.  Yes, I said parents.  This results in grandparents raising their children’s children, which is becoming a problem of epidemic proportions.  Independence, divorce, and striving for the “almighty buck” are turning grandpa and grandma’s place into orphanages.  This makes quality outreach for indwelt Christian families even more necessary than ever before.  Plus, God actually requires it of all of His children.
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27, NASB). 

TAKING CARE OF MOM AND POPS:  I think you would agree with me that we live in a “throw away” society!  This horrific trend is becoming such a problem, that the UN has started a campaign called “euthanasia.”   Euthanasia is the process of expelling (killing off) the elderly, handicapped, and terminally weak.  The government has already proven that “nursing homes” and nursing care are so overpriced that something has to be done.  Well, the fix to “being done” is euthanasia.  I hate to admit it, but I don’t think we as a people will be able to turn this one around.  The generation of youth today is NOT going to stop and reformat their lives to include having their elderly parents grow old within their emergent households.  It just is not going to happen.  You might find a few families clinging to these old school values; but overall, euthanasia is the only solution to this depraved world. 
In saying that, the wonderful opportunities available to help these elderly people in the community becomes massive.  For indwelt Christian families to serve in this way is a perfect way to show their own grandchildren how to care for their own grandparents.  We must attack the global issues with local steps and this is a great way to start.  By helping the elderly, family members are put in the position to rethink the ways of the world.  This can be accomplished by going to the local retirement center. Or better yet, find several elderly people in town that can’t afford professional care.  This is where the real need is.  Pour your money there and you will gain the attention of God.
HIGHER STANDARD OF LIVING:  Believe it or not, the most reliable way of using your home for quality outreach is to observe the habits of your home.  Some of the items to consider are:
1.      Set a time to put the cell phones on the shelf each night. 

2.     Set a schedule for TV viewing.  On non-viewing days/nights, plan creative relationship building activities.

3.      Make a decision not to answer phones during meal preparation or dinner times. 

4.      Develop a habit to have mealtime devotions – Oswald Chambers is our favorite.

5.      Plan your “dining out” times and spend more time doing family cooking.

6.      Pay less on hiring others to do household chores and do them as a family.

7.      Agree to stop spending money on “junk food.” 

8.      Take family walks – invite neighbors to go with you.

9.      Take time to read – even if it is just for fun.

10.   Develop new habits of getting up earlier and starting your day right.
There are so many things you can do to save money in and around the home, just by not being so lazy.  Laziness is very expensive.  The ways of a lazy person are destructive.  My children, and now grandchildren, hear me speak often about the ways of the ant.  These little creatures are some of the hardest working examples of all of God’s creation.
“Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--Your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man. A worthless person, a wicked man, Is the one who walks with a perverse mouth, Who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, Who points with his fingers”  (Proverbs 6:6-13, NASB).