Living a Christian minimalist lifestyle is an increasingly popular choice for those looking to simplify their lives and focus on what matters most. It involves living with fewer material possessions, focusing on spiritual growth, and living in alignment with one's faith.
By embracing minimalism, Christians can free themselves from some of the distractions of modern life and instead focus on deepening their relationship with God and living a life of purpose.
Adopting Christian minimalism can help bring clarity to our lives, reduce stress, and allow us to live more intentionally.
This article discusses what it means to practice minimalism from a Christian perspective, the benefits and drawbacks of minimalism, and tips on getting started and remaining focused on this less complicated way of living to improve your overall quality of life.
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What is a Christian Minimalist Lifestyle?
Living a Christian minimalist lifestyle means focusing on simplicity and contentment. It's based on the idea that having fewer possessions and concentrating on what truly matters in all aspects of life can lead to greater joy, peace, and fulfillment.
The minimalist movement encourages people to live purposefully rather than being driven by materialism or consumerism.
"Then He said to them, 'Take heed and beware of covetousness. For a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'" Luke 12:15 (MEV)
At its core, Christian minimalism is about living in alignment with one's faith and values. It's about pursuing a purposeful, meaningful life instead of being driven by the pursuit of items or status.
Benefits of Embracing Minimalism
There are numerous advantages to adopting a Christian minimalist lifestyle. Benefits include deepening our relationship with God, strengthening our relationships with others, and pursuing personal growth.
When you first consider this way of living, you may focus on the term less. And that makes sense as you give things up and simplify your life.
Yet over time, you'll likely reframe your thinking and recognize that minimalist living offers you more of what really matters to you.
Some of what you can gain by embracing minimalism includes:
1. Greater Control and Focus
When people seek a simpler lifestyle, it may be because they feel their environment and schedule are chaotic and unsustainable. By minimizing personal possessions and commitments, those who choose a straightforward path take greater control of their lives.
Still, it's also important to remember that minimalism looks different for everyone! While you may read information about what others do to achieve more simplicity, don't fall victim to copying another's path. What works for one person, couple, or family may not work for another.
When you align your needs and wants with your faith, you will have a greater focus on God, your relationships, and your future. Living a minimalistic life allows us to be more intentional and better meet our personal, spiritual, and financial goals.
2. More Physical and Mental Space
As you pare down possessions and only bring things into your home that fit a more simplistic lifestyle, you'll likely notice that the amount of physical space in your home grows dramatically.
Like most people, you've probably used up much of your floor and wall space with more furniture and decorations because you feel the need to fill the empty spaces.
After decluttering your things, getting used to the new look of your closets and rooms may take time. Use the control and focus you've gained to avoid the temptation to find new items to infuse your home.
As you practice prioritizing and learn to limit your scheduled activities and events, the mental energy you'll have available will also improve. Again, it's important not to clutter your thinking with new ideas. Consider adopting the spiritual discipline of Scripture meditation to help ground your thoughts.
3. Additional "Free" Time in Your Days
There's a good chance that in the last few days, you've made the comment that you're "really busy" or you "wished you had more time" to do or accomplish something.
As you start with a minimalist lifestyle, you may find that it also uses much of your time and energy. But don't make the mistake of giving up! As the simplifying process continues, you'll likely find yourself recapturing lost hours.
When you spend less energy managing and organizing your calendar and possessions, you free up more time to pursue things that improve your faith and bring you joy.
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2 (NIV)
4. More Money
Living a simpler lifestyle helps reduce your stress and anxiety by eliminating the need to acquire new things or keep up with trends constantly. You'll see bank account balances grow when you only upgrade your furnishings, electronics, or cars when there is a real need.
When you have better control of your spending and align purchases with your faith and values, you are less likely to feel regret or dissatisfaction. Being mindful of resources and avoiding consumerism are fundamental practices of minimalism.
Keep in mind that advertisements for products or services on television and social media will be a constant temptation. And as your income grows, you may also face the challenge of managing your feelings around lifestyle inflation.
Being minimalist takes commitment. Rather than spending money on more material possessions, aim to focus your energy on deepening relationships with God, your family, friends, and your community.
5. Greater Overall Happiness and Peace
Living as a Christian minimalist is not about deprivation or denying yourself the things you need or enjoy. Instead, it's about being deliberate in how you spend your time and money so that you can focus on what you've defined as necessary in your life.
With a simpler lifestyle, you can reconnect with God. The chaotic feelings you felt in the past are replaced with a sense of contentment. When you're at peace, experiences help build memories and improve your overall satisfaction with life.
You'll also notice that your sense of gratitude will grow. Practicing minimalism redefines "enough" and reminds you how fortunate you are compared to many people in the world. This can foster a greater desire to help others in your community and beyond.
Is Minimalism for Everyone?
When you read about all the benefits of embracing minimalism, you may want to start making changes to experience them yourself. But a word of caution: this lifestyle isn't for everyone.
Shifting your mindset and taking action to simplify may not seem that difficult, but it can become stressful and overwhelming. As you begin to label your possessions as essential or not, you may face challenging feelings and judge yourself critically.
The result of these conflicting feelings may be inaction. And worse, it can also be the opposite - getting rid of too many possessions or commitments too fast. This can cause deep regret and abandonment of your goal of practicing minimalism. Try to keep your focus on the future rather than grading your past.
When you have a spouse or family, you may also face challenges if there isn't agreement on what "simplifying" means. Less is not more for everyone. Some people's belongings are what "sparks joy" for them, and that should be respected. With effort and compromise, you may find a balance that meets everyone's needs.
Keep in mind that you define minimalism and your definition can evolve. If you embrace a minimalist lifestyle as a process and make incremental changes, you may be happier with the result. While there are people who can make drastic changes in their way of living in a short period of time and be happy, you or a family member may not be one of them.
Getting Started with Minimalism
For those interested in adopting a Christian minimalist lifestyle, here is a list of practical tips to help you get started:
1. Define what you want your minimalist life to look like by reflecting on your needs vs. wants.
Resist the effort to follow the popular advice of jumping in and starting with the physical decluttering of your home. Getting rid of "stuff" is part of the process, but it doesn't need to be the first step if you want to make lasting change.
Figure out your "why" for adopting this practice. Your purpose for embracing minimalism will help you make decisions when you find yourself questioning a new purchase or agreeing to commitments of your time.
Take time to read and research minimalist practices if you want more information. Your crazy calendar and "stuff" will be there waiting when you are ready to act.
2. Set (new) goals.
With a mission of becoming minimalistic, some of the goals you've set may change.
For example, you may reconsider a financial goal of saving money to make a significant purchase or remodel part of your home. How can you redirect your savings to align with your new practice? Your goal may be to send that money to a retirement account to reduce the stress on your future.
With the time you'll have from paring down your busy schedule, you may be able to incorporate new wellness and spiritual goals. While taking time for yourself to rest and reset is essential, avoid falling into the trap of increasing television viewing or social media scrolling.
3. Budget your money.
To live more intentionally, make a very clear spending plan. When you have a budget with defined expense categories, it's easier to skip impulse buys.
You'll also want to ensure you save an emergency fund of at least 3-6 months of expenses (or more, if possible!) This helps prevent you from taking on high-interest debt in the event of an unexpected situation.
Set up sinking funds for planned non-monthly spending (i.e., vacations or home renovations) to help you stay in control of your finances.
There are a number of mobile apps to help you optimize your financial wellness that people find helpful too.
Simplify your financial accounts, too, if possible. Pay down credit card balances, but don't make the mistake of closing several credit cards with a long history. Closing accounts you’ve had for years can have a major impact on your credit score because the length of your credit history factors into your score.
Consider seeking the help of a financial professional if you have questions about combining retirement accounts or making adjustments that could impact your economic life or tax situation.
4. Plan your time.
When you've lived a very scheduled life, it may not be easy to avoid filling most of your hours with things to do - especially as you begin trying out the minimalist lifestyle. When you have some things to get rid of and changes to make, you want to get things done!
But remember, you're not in a race. You want to create lasting change and do it at a pace that minimizes stress. While we suggest you "plan" your time, this plan involves limiting activities that aren't aligned with your new goal of simplifying life.
Work on limiting the time you spend online and watching television. Are you still mindlessly scrolling through social media on your phone or binge watching series after series? You might be surprised at how much time you can use for other tasks when you break this habit.
Instead, set aside time blocks to pray, write, read, exercise, and spend time in nature. You should also schedule time for self-care to rest and recharge. Plan time for building stronger relationships with family members, friends, and God.
You may also need to say "no" (or at least "I'll need to get back to you") to events that used to fill up your calendar. It's okay to give your time to worthy causes, but don't let activities that aren't meaningful fill your days.
5. Start physically decluttering your home.
Now it's time to begin the physical removal of items you don't need or use any longer and ones that don't bring you joy. Consider using keep, donate, toss, and sell piles as you move through different spaces in your home.
If you've planned "decluttering time" in your schedule, stick to it. You may choose to go room by room, but it might make sense to start with a smaller area too. Tackling one closet, a set of kitchen drawers, or one wall of the garage is still progress toward a more simple lifestyle!
You'll likely feel a greater sense of control with each space you address. You'll be motivated to continue your journey to minimalism as you feel freedom from the "things" that weigh you down.
6. Reassess your progress and make adjustments.
As you live a Christian minimalist lifestyle, you make conscious decisions about how you spend your time and energy aligned with your devotion to your faith. But over time, it's still important to reflect on your progress and tweak your lifestyle from time to time.
Given months or years, you'll likely notice that you own or have gotten more items that you no longer value. And scaling back time commitments or re-establishing unhealthy habits is a challenge for almost everyone.
Decluttering (physical and mental) may become an annual (or more frequent) task for many minimalists. When you reassess your progress and make needed changes, you create more space for the things that truly matter and for joyful living.
More Resources on Minimalist Lifestyles
Living a Christian minimalist lifestyle can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging. You may be looking for new ideas or have questions you'd like answered. Some minimalists seek connections with others who are living a simpler life.
Joshua Becker is the founder of the website Becoming Minimalist. With over 1 million readers every month and a thriving community, he offers dozens of articles to help you on your journey. If you enjoy his work, you can read further in his books and magazines on minimalism. Becker even offers a course and app for those who prefer those types of media to learn and stay accountable.
You may also find support in a Christian Minimalist Community such as the one run by Becca Ehrlich. She is the founder of the website ChristianMinimalism.com and has written a book on the topic that describes "Simple Steps to Abundant Living."
Take time to talk to people in your local and faith communities too. There's a good chance that others you know already embrace minimalism in some form. Finding a supportive group can help you stay motivated and inspired on your journey toward a simpler yet abundant life.