Broker Check

Where Should I Give?

With so many charitable organizations, how does one decide the best place to give? Furthermore, how do you divide gifts between your local church and parachurch (other Christian ministry) organizations? Examining the biblical model should help.

It seems clear from Scripture that you should first give to your local church. The Old Testament has numerous instructions to bring tithes to God’s house. Often it mentions giving tithes to the priests who were leading worship. Sometimes, the house of the Lord was described as a storehouse for sharing with people in need.

In the New Testament, Paul encourages people to give through a local group—directed by leaders. Look at the model in Acts 4:34-35: “…for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.” Even gifts to outside causes were given this way. 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 describes a collection for a needy Jerusalem church which was done through the local church and distributed by leadership. The church is not only a storehouse; it is a clearinghouse for giving.

Why is giving first to your local church so important? You should not only be fed by your church, you need to be accountable to it. “It’s my money, I’ll decide where to give” is not a healthy attitude. Church leadership should also be accountable. If, after a thorough investigation, you are not comfortable with the charitable policies at your church home, perhaps it is time to find a new home.

There are many worthy parachurch organizations which do a great job of promoting the Gospel. After supporting your local church, you may feel led to give to one of these outside groups. Unfortunately, they often compete with the local church for your resources. They sometimes have professional brochures, polished spokespeople, and a compelling message. Compared with the mundane task of paying the electric bill at your home church, a parachurch organization may give the appearance of being a more effective ministry. You must do your homework. Some ministries spend a large portion of their budget on fundraising and they, too, have an electric bill.

Telemarketers can use pressure, surprise, and guilt as tactics. Giving this way does not fit well with 2 Corinthians 9:7. Take time to carefully consider your gifts. Finally, try to stay informed about the organizations behind your giving projects. The Bible teaches that there is a direct connection between our hearts and our money: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34) Our money goes first, and our hearts are designed to follow closely.