The Buck Stopped at My House
Eric Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Send comments and observations about ONE to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seventy-two. The number represents the stack of fundraising appeals I received between November 27 and January 8. While a handful came from secular organizations like the volunteer fire department and the local animal shelter, the overwhelming majority came from Christian ministries in crisis.
With each new letter, my heart grew heavier. They painted a bleak picture, using words like desperate, shortfall, crisis, emergency, catastrophe, even insolvency. Terse words communicated a clear message: If I didn’t do my part to meet financial needs, families would go hungry, schools would cut staff and scholarships, missionaries would be called home, and the gospel would be hindered.
I wanted to help them all. I couldn’t. And it was agonizing. After all, how does one choose between ministries? In my struggle for answers, I reached four simple conclusions:
Maintain regular giving. In a financial crisis, it is tempting to cut back on regular giving commitments and divert funds to another struggling organization. Avoid the temptation. Keep tithing. It’s God’s plan for funding His work. Fulfill prior commitments. Don’t “rob Peter to pay Paul,” as the old saying goes. The ministries you support are counting on the dollars you pledged. Finish what you started before adding something new.
Get creative. Cut out a daily soda. Skip two fast food lunches a week. Buy an antenna and give the cable company the boot. That’s (roughly) $100 a month that could make the difference for some struggling ministry.
Do your homework. Strategic giving requires careful research. Find ministries that use their money wisely, operating with low overhead and frugal spending habits. Look for organizations with a clear vision and a definite plan of action. Seek out groups that embrace accountability and provide an annual audit of income and expenditures.
Give up the guilt. Give what you can and trust the math to God. As the lad by the lake learned, He can make the smallest gift go a long, long way. Scripture makes it clear that giving is judged by the attitude of the giver and the true cost of the gift, not the dollar amount.
As you browse the pages of this stewardship-themed issue of ONE Magazine, you will encounter many examples of giving, from Ernie the “numbers man” to a veteran missionary couple that once sold their class rings to keep their family on the field.
You will explore the biblical mandate for stewardship with Norma Goldman and gain a new perspective from missionary Mirial Gainer, who learned that God could use her anywhere, even flat on her back in a Japanese hospital.
No, this magazine will not bring an end to the financial crisis. It will not stop the flood of fundraising appeals, and it won’t make your giving decisions easier. But perhaps it will provide encouragement and perspective, always helpful during a crisis.