Spiritual bang for my buck: which charities get my money?

I have been receiving lots of invitations to donate my money over the past few months. It seems that wherever I go I am being entreated to give to some fund or charity, and my mail is rife with letters asking for donations to this cause or that.  People inside the grocery store asking to purchase SARS calendars for thirty dollars. Teenage boys and girls at the checkout lines who will help you bag your items if you donate to their sports teams. Mailers asking me to help buy a Christmas turkey dinner for the homeless of the city. Mailers asking me to help elderly Jews by either buying them a meal, or helping them return to Israel. Cashiers at the registers of retail stores asking me to donate to breast cancer research, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating illnesses. Cashiers at the registers asking me to donate to school supplies for needy children, the SPCA, or to give towards the Special Olympics. The requests are everywhere, and it can be exhausting.

Whereas I used to give a little bit here and there, I’ve since stopped doing that. Some charities I refuse to support on principle [anything to do with pink ribbons and Susan G Komen] but I’ve become increasingly selective over the years, to the point that I’ll ignore 95% of requests outright for one simple reason. I do not see any eternal value in doing so. Because my labors and income is a gift from God, I want to be a good steward of it. I don’t want to  be unwise in deciding where it goes and who receives it. I only have a limited amount of it, and so I want to ensure that it yields an eternal value wherever it is spent. For this reason, unless there is a Christocentric component, I will not give.

Case in point; the Special Olympics. Why would I give fifty dollars to this group when that money could feed and support a missionary in some parts of the world for several months? Where is the eternal utilitarian value of paying for an athletes hotel room or for his airfare so they can participate in a particular sport, when that same money could be used to purchase ministry tools for those who don’t have access to them, or could be used to feed and shelter a struggling missionary who is preaching the gospel to the unsaved? Where is the value?

I could give to my local SPCA, and at their request make donations to ensure that the animals are properly fed while they await to be adopted, that administrative and advertising costs are covered, and that they can buy enough sodium thiopental to put their animals to sleep. Or I could donate the money to various Christian organizations who print and smuggle in bibles to closed nations and persecuted Christians.

I could give my money to a homeless shelter or food bank that feeds and clothes and provides financial and physical support for those who need it, or I could give to a homeless shelter and food bank that does all those things as well as makes it a priority to preach the gospel and include a component of Christian evangelism to the services they are providing.I would never, ever give to the former, but I would happily give to the latter.

Ultimately I want to be wise and use my money in a way that will tangibly and practically further the kingdom of Christ. Its not wrong to give to all those organizations, but neither do I think it is particularly beneficial, especially for the Christian who ought to set his sights on different priorities and purposes in giving. Why give to an organization that seeks to only address the physical and emotional needs of someone when you can give to organizations which seek to address both physical and spiritual needs? Where is the eternal perspective on giving? Where is the biblical theology of money? I think it needs to be present at all times, and I think we need to be much more aware of it.

Great John Piper Quote

“The ultimate good of the gospel is seeing and savoring the beauty and value of God. God’s wrath and our sin obstruct that vision and that pleasure. You can’t see and savor God as supremely satisfying while you are full of rebellion against Him and He is full of wrath against you. The removal of this wrath and this rebellion is what the gospel is for. The ultimate aim of the gospel is the display of God’s glory and the removal of every obstacle to our seeing it and savoring it as our highest treasure. “Behold Your God!” is the most gracious command and the best gift of the gospel. If we do not see Him and savor Him as our greatest fortune, we have not obeyed or believed the gospel.”
John Piper, God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself

Letting The Young Men Preach

I know of a group of churches that do something especially awesome. Every two weeks the young men in the Churches, along with the elders to oversee and anyone else who wants to attend, get together and practice preaching for a couple of hours. That is, they meet at each others churches and everyone gets 10 minutes to preach whatever they want. Some are boys in their teens, others are young men in their twenties, and some are other assorted congregation members who want to get an opportunity to preach and teach.

The benefits of this sort of affair though are numerous. It serves as a training ground and functions as an outlet for their zeal , it gives the elders an opportunity to correct and rebuke any false beliefs and teachings that these young men and boys might have and/or introduce to others, it is an opportunity of testing to hone their talents, to practice dictation, precision, sermon structure, thesis composition, and their homiliteical skills, is a great way to embolden the men and help develop their confidence, and  serves as a way for the Church leadership to pinpoint burgeoning leaders who might teach classes, home groups, Sunday school, bible studies, weekday services, etc.

I think this is a phenomenal  idea and something I wish I could attend, both as a listener and as a preacher. In fact that would easily be something that I would look forward to with great delight- even if I could just hear these people, all with varying passion, skill and giftings, preach their hearts out.  Because when I consider the activities and programs of Churches  in this city, I don’t know of many who are doing this- who are actively training the men to teach and preach. Are they? I have a decent idea of what most churches in this city are up to- is this something that is on their radar? And not that example exactly, but there is so much emphasis on making people “disciples” but how much emphasis is given to actively developing preachers and teachers?  It seems to me that its important to do.  It requires no money, no resources, and yet would yield great results and fruits.

So what do you all think? Would you attend such an event? What are your churches doing to actively develop preachers and teachers?