I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a city some jokingly call the "Evangelical Vatican" because of the large number of churches and ministries in the area. Hundreds of the members in my church either work at or have close ties to Focus on the Family, The Navigators, Compassion International, International Bible Society (now Biblica), Andrew Womack Ministries, Youth With a Mission, and dozens of other great parachurch organizations. It seems you can't toss an offering envelope in this town without hitting a 501c(3) ministry.
I love these organizations. They do so much to spread the gospel and help the poor. Yet as the financial stewardship pastor at my church, the presence of many Christian organizations asking for donations makes my job more challenging. With so many excellent causes to give to, why should people give to our church?
I'm not the only one dealing with this challenge. The truth is no matter where you live, there's no shortage of opportunities for Christians to give. Never have there been more charities and ministries spreading the gospel, feeding hungry children, digging wells, and providing medical services. Then there's the local food pantry that always needs stocking, disaster-relief agencies asking for help, not to mention that someone is always pitching a sad story on Facebook, capped of course with a plea for everyone to help out "just a little." Throw in a weak job market and tight budgets and it's easy to understand why people get giving fatigue.
This makes presenting the case for giving to the church all the more important. Below I've outlined some of the reasons I give people for why they should give to the local church. As you'll see, I believe giving to the church isn't merely one good option among many. Rather, it's imperative for every Christian.
The church is a connection point for Christian living.
The employees, volunteers, and supporters of the Christian organizations in our city have one thing in common: they all go to church somewhere.
In our congregation, we feed them spiritually on Sunday mornings and throughout the week. We also serve as the hub for their small groups, fellowship opportunities, children's ministries, and spiritual growth classes. We marry them, bury them, celebrate their anniversaries, pastor them through hardship and live life with them.
Our church auditorium is called "the living room" because it is where our family gathers. Church truly is a family.
The church is also a hub to connect ministry services. Chances are you've connected with people on your local church staff that have the same passions you do. You know who's collecting canned goods to feed the hungry, or who coordinates the mission trips, or who volunteers to do handy work for the homes of single moms and widows.
Those people can be a great resource to help you direct your offerings (money given over and above your tithe) to organizations that best carry out the work you are passionate about.
Those pastors, staff, and volunteers also likely know quite a bit about the efficiency of the organizations you are considering giving to, and whether their administrative costs are effectively low.
They'll also know which "ministries" are actually fronts for activities that conflict with your values, and for people who would rather start a "ministry" and solicit donations from you to support their "work" than actually go out and get a job. Yes, those are out there—hundreds of them.