One of the best ways I’ve discovered to begin giving more wisely is to put on paper how God seems to be directing you to give. This includes both the kinds of ministries God wants you to support as well as those you sense he doesn’t want you to be engaged in. Very few people can be knowledgeable or thoughtful enough about many different ministries to be a truly informed donor.
This kind of intentional stewardship will take time. Depending on the amount of capital God has entrusted to you, this process of prayer, fasting, getting godly counsel and then rewriting your stewardship statement may take many months. However, it’s been my experience that when and if Christians go through this exercise, they will emerge more thoughtful, strategic givers, and enjoy giving more than they ever dreamed.
The following are some of the basic elements of a Family Stewardship statement and some examples of ideas and language you may want to use.
Last week in my blog How much should Christians give? I asked another, even more important question: How much of what we as Christians own, belongs to God?
Hopefully your answer was the same as the man to whom I addressed that question, “All of it.” Well, if God owns all of it and we are merely his money managers and trustees and writing his checks for him, then we have some very hard questions to ask such as:
1. Would God ever direct us to write a donation check to a secular university or other non-Christian charities?
2. With an estimated 13,000 people dying from preventable diseases or hunger every day, do you think God would prefer we give for a new cafeteria for the local Christian school?
3. Would God write a check to your church, if he didn’t attend there? In other words is loyalty to one’s church an adequate reason to write checks on God’s account?
“Clare, how much should Christians give back to the Lord in offerings or tithes?”
I was leading a discussion group in another state on the topic of money when this question was asked. “I think I need to ask you another question before I answer yours. How much of what you have belongs to God?”, I asked the man, a young businessman and serious Christian. “All of it!” he answered correctly.
Would the people who know you best consider you a Christian tourist or an ambassador for the kingdom of God?
I threw this question out to a group of leadership men one morning in a monthly discussion group I lead called 1st Tuesdays. I could tell that initially most of the men put themselves in the Christian ambassador column. However as the conversation went on and we began to explore the differences between a Christian ambassador and Christian tourists, several of the men grew more quiet and thoughtful. It’s also been a word picture I’ve used with our own children when in Washington D.C. or vacation outside the U.S. to help them understand better the missions of kingdom people.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” II Cor. 5:20a
Of course, everyone pressed me to define the difference between the two, so I told them and explained it this way.