Thinking Out Loud

August 12, 2017

For the Forty-Somethings

 and some Thirty-somethings

 plus a few Fifty-somethings

It’s time to step up.

By that I mean, it’s time to get out the checkbook (or chequebook if you prefer) or grab the credit card and go online.

I’m not talking about giving to your local church. I’m sure you already do that. Maybe you tithe. Maybe you’re what Andy Stanley calls a percentage giver.  Things are stable financially and you’ve recognized that responsibility. Your local church thanks you, and wouldn’t exist without you.

No, this is about giving beyond your local church. It’s about the parachurch organizations, the faith missions, the Christian social service agencies. It’s about hospitals in third world nations, adopting orphans, and teaching literacy to jungle people, and preparing translations of the Gospel of Matthew.

Here’s the deal: A generation that founded many organizations — many formed in the post-war years 1945 to 1950 — and then funded those organizations is dying off. These generous patrons need to be replaced.

At the same time, as Christianity loses its ground numerically in Western Europe, Australia/NZ, and North America; awareness of the faith mission organizations is decreasing. Those of us who populate the pews on the weekend do not have opportunities to hear about the vital things different groups are doing, either domestically or in far-flung mission fields.

Some of these organizations are watching their donor base shrink and shrink to the point where everyone from office staff to field workers face cults. It’s now or never…

…Writing an article like this without mentioning names of potential objects for your philanthropy is difficult, but that’s what I pre-determined this piece would be. I do however suggest a few questions:

  1. Am I interested primarily in proclamation of the Christian message, or I am okay with organizations who serve the needy in Christ’s name?
  2. Do I want my money to stay here at home, or do I want to give to overseas projects in the most economically disadvantages parts of the world?
  3. Do I want to give to a major, longtime, well-established Christian charity, or do I want to partner with a newer, upstart group?
  4. What causes tend to resonate with me?
  5. If my gift means I end up on a mailing list, are these organizations I genuinely want to read about and learn how and what they’re doing?
  6. What particular ministry opportunities or places in the world am I personally aware of which may not be as familiar to others?
  7. Do I want to scatter some funds among a handful of Christian organizations, or go long and deep with one particular cause?
  8. Are there ministries where I have personal contact with a particular worker and will thereby know that the job is getting done; the money well-spent?

You might need to do some research. If you’re married, make sure your partner agrees with your choices, especially if you’re writing checks on a joint-account. And decide if you want to be a monthly supporter — which the organizations love because it provides them with a stable financial forecast — or if you’re doing a one-time thing.

People in the middle of a variety of ministry contexts are watching for your contributions.

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April 20, 2010

Reblogging: The Lost Art of Giving

usher_sidebetsOne of the downsides of regular tithing to ones local church is that we can sometimes feel that we’ve ended our obligation to do anything else in a financial sense. Don’t get me wrong, the local church where you receive teaching, fellowship and spiritual nurture should be the first priority, when you look at where your money is going. But once done, your heart should still be open to the possibility of responding to other needs you hear about or see around you.

I’ll get back to that in a minute. First I want to consider another set of possibilities.

There are many people — especially in the blogosphere — who have gotten burned out on the whole church thing. Entire shelves in Christian bookstores are devoted to this theme. Those people are not current attending anywhere, which means many are not currently making financial contributions to the work of building the Kingdom of God. If you’re one of them, it’s possible that as the income tax deadline approaches (less than two weeks in the U.S. and four weeks in Canada) you’re realizing you don’t have the charitable deductions you may have had in the past.

For the people in either of the first or third paragraphs above, I want to suggest some guidelines that I have found helpful in choosing projects to support. I came up with some of this at a time we had no money at all, but am no trying to apply these things to some situations I have been aware of and trying to become more generous in my* giving.

*”My” in this case really meaning “our;” because I don’t do this alone but in consultation with my wife.

  1. How great is the need? Is this a project that one or two people can help with, or is going to take a lot of people pulling together to make this happen? Sometimes we tend to bail out if the need is huge, thinking our contribution won’t make a difference. Other times, if the need is small, we think someone else will take care of it.
  2. How urgent is the need? If the organization or project needs finances now, it means people need to respond now.
  3. How visible is the project or need? Item (1) notwithstanding, there is an organization I know of that is so very visible that I sometimes find myself looking at projects I think may be off the radar of other people.
  4. How able is the constituency to support itself? Some people think that the people who most benefit from a ministry or organization should be the people who are supporting it. But that’s not the case with ministry to the poor, or to youth, or to seekers and new believers who haven’t yet learned the principle of giving.
  5. How much of my gift will go directly to meeting the need? As with anything financial, we need to be shrewd; we need to be good stewards. Make sure the need is real and that someone’s plight is being exploited to maintain the organization itself. Giving in this sense may take the form of giving directly to an individual or family, bypassing the tax receipt.

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If you live in Canada and are looking for some practical suggestions on giving, e-mail me (see the contact-us button) and depending on the response you’ll get either a personal reply or a copy of some suggestions.

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April 20, 2010 update:  Sorry for the reblog today.  Things just got busy.   Link list for tomorrow is ready to go.

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