Subtitle: Practical suggestions for giving through the church
God has one body through which he works his will and in which he invests his Spirit. The church is the only provision divinely instituted for his work. “… to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21, NRSV). If God is to be given glory in the church, our efforts must be done in and through the church and not handed off to some entity that was unknown in the pages of Scripture.
Below are some concrete suggestions to avoid empowering parachurch organizations and follow the plan of God for salvation through the church.
1. Make the money flow to and through churches and, often, to individuals. Starve the organizations through lack of funds. Feed that body chosen by God to do his will. Jesus received financial support; his group had a treasurer and treasury. People “provided for them out of their resources” (Luke 8:3). NASB translates the word diakoneo in this verse as “contributing to their support.” We should be serving in the same way by supporting the preaching of the gospel, through the people the Lord has called to surround him.
2. Encourage and participate in congregational efforts. It all happens at the local level — at your local level. No church is too small to do a great work. God has revealed his will to infants (Luke 10:21) and placed the work in the hands of the disenfranchised who are empowered by his Spirit.
3. Give God’s mission the priority it demands. Helping with physical needs is a wonderful demonstration of compassion, but the church has a single focus, Christ’s mission of saving the lost for eternal life (Matthew 20:28; Luke 19:10). The overwhelming amount of funds, time and energies should reflect that directive.
4. Publicize other congregational ministries. Provide options for those who want to help. Networking is a 20th century buzzword, but was a first-century practice. The sharing of opportunities and needs needs to be done in a spirit of acceptance. Welcome the appeal for funds.
5. Lose the institutional mindset. We often think we need a non-profit, an organization, an infrastructure or a school to do the Master’s work. Jesus did it all with none of these. The apostles did their work with one entity, the church. By the end of the first century the known world was reached with nothing more than word of mouth. Why is that same approach not possible today?
God’s plan is simple. The followers of Jesus, banded together in congregations, do the work, participate together in the single work of saving souls and share resources as needed.
Nothing more is needed. Nothing less is expected.