Increasingly, many people are following a solo track in their Christian life. With a proliferation of streaming church services, online sermons and podcasts and Christian books appearing at rate we’ve never before experienced, it’s both tempting and easy to go it alone.
In the past I’ve challenged some people to wrestle with a few questions:
- What do you do for Christian fellowship?
- What people or group comprise your covering when you need prayer?
- Where do you experience the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper/Communion?
- How do you experience corporate worship?
These are all serious questions which have theological underpinnings; and anyone who is actually maturing in their Christ-following is going to run up against these sooner or later.
But with the fiscal year-end serving as a reminder — though hopefully not fully the motivation — it’s also a good time to look at another question:
- Where or how do you experience alms-giving or tithing?
If you are currently outside of a faith family, may I make a few suggestions?
First you should give something to whoever does provide you with teaching and nurture: The online church, the radio ministry, the provider of devotional literature you receive. I’m assuming that one or more of these exist in your life because absent those factors, plus the ones listed above, I’d question the arena in which your faith journey operates.
Second here’s a stretched analogy to help you find some giving possibilities:
In our area this could include:
- a ministry reaching youth such as a local chapter of Youth for Christ
- a faith-based ministry reaching the poor and marginalized such as The Salvation Army
- the local Christian radio station which relies on donations more than commercial revenue
- the local crisis pregnancy center
- the local Christian school which needs donation to supplement parent fees
Here you’re looking at regional ministries. In our area this might be:
- Christian camp ministries, making a difference in the life of children and teens
- organizations that place Bibles in prisons, schools, hotels such as The Gideons
- faith-based group homes and residences for people dealing with addictions or family crisis
In the original passage, Samaria is more of a descriptor of “the place you don’t want to go” than a geographic reference. To me, this represents a ministry to a select people group than a particular place. We’ve known of ministries to a select ethnic group within our country; to street people in urban centers; to Gay/Lesbians; to professionals; to people needing jobs; to people with a specific medial condition; to the elderly; to a specific arts community; etc.
This could include:
- worldwide Bible translations organizations such as Wycliffe or Bible distributors such as the various Bible societies or Megavoice
- faith-based relief and development agencies such as Compassion
- ministries raising awareness of religious persecution of missionaries and Christians in nations claiming religious liberty; and/or dealing with issues such as human trafficking
- evangelistic organizations with worldwide impact such as Billy Graham’s
These are just suggestions.
As a Lone Ranger Christian, you are still part of the body if not a local assembly. Addressing the giving question still doesn’t address the prayer and worship and fellowship and communion issues, but it’s a place you can begin, even on a weekday.