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How Thoughtful Christians Are Breaking Old Giving Habits


The average Christian gives most of their stewardship giving to their church, the Christian school their children or grandchildren attend and to local ministries. In fact, we know that 97% of all giving by American Christians, stays right in the U.S.

As I said in last week’s blog, if God has entrusted American Christians with over half of the Christian world’s giving power, do we really believe he wants us to spend 97% on our fellow Americans? What about the 2,000,000 billion who’ve never heard the gospel? What about the 1,000,000 billion who live on less than $500 a year and lack everything?

That’s the question and here’s my answer;

If everything we own belongs to God, I’m confident if he were directing our giving, far more than 3% would go to the underserved of the world.

If you agree, let’s take a look at how we got into the 97% habit and also, how we can break it. Why do we tend to give to local ministries?

Have you ever stepped back and thought about why the vast majority of your own giving goes to local or U.S. ministries? There are some very good reasons, why we do;

  1. We give to our church, because it serves our family.

  2. We often give to Christian schools and local Christian youth ministries, because they serve our families and our community.

  3. We know the people who run those ministries and we trust them.

  4. People we know have asked us to support these ministries and we trust their judgment.

Those are all very good reasons to give to our own church and local ministries. However, as stewards of God’s resources, we have a moral and spiritual obligation to give where God wants his resources to go. (Please read last week’s blog for my answer to that question.

Breaking the habit So, if you’re being convicted to examine how God may be wanting you to restructure your giving, here are some ideas.

 1. Make a list of every ministry you gave to last year with the gross amounts next to each. Add it up. What percentage of all your giving is to U.S. ministries or to your church?

2. Do you feel compelled by God to realign your giving to his priorities? If you believe, even for good reasons, your giving portfolio is probably not in line with God’s priorities and needs rebalancing, begin praying today and for the next 30 days for wisdom and a number. 30%, 40%, 50% to the least evangelical and the poor? There’s no way you can know if any number, is the exact number. Nevertheless, listen for God’s leading and then choose a goal for your least of these, giving.

3. Consider giving 100% of all your extra income to God’s priorities. A friend of mine was donating a total of $12,000 a year to Christian causes and almost 100% to U.S. ministries. As his income rose he and his wife decided to tithe every dollar of the additional income to the least of these ministries. After 10 years, that got them to the 50/50 goals they believed God wanted for them.

4. Begin cutting back slowly your giving to traditional ministries. Years ago, Susan and I were convicted of the need to give more to the least of these. So we began to reduce what we had been giving to traditional ministries by 10% each year, for the next 5 years. At the end of five years, we achieved our 50-50 goal, as well. (U.S. versus least of these ministries).

I hope some of these ideas have been helpful. I also understand how counter-intuitive much of this teaching is. But test it both by scripture and prayer. I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on these ideas or principles you’ve followed to be better stewards.

“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

How following Jesus works in real life.

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