In Purpose

Using our resources intentionally and with purpose

In last week’s post, I addressed the issue of God connecting us to each other in order to fulfill His purposes.  This week I want to expand on the idea of doing ministry together and zone in on one part of that ministry – our ‘giving’.

It would seem that once we have settled in our heart that as Christ followers, giving of our resources should be a way of life, many of us struggle with the question, “Who do we give to?”

This question, at surface level, seems easy to answer.  However, if we want our giving to be significant and have lasting impact we need to dig deeper.

Let me state up front that I believe in giving to my church.  For me, that is the starting point.   It is, however, not the ending point.

Beyond my church giving, I use the five W questions to help me come to meaningful answers to the question of who to give to next.  I believe that these are good questions to work through, not only as individuals, but also for corporations wanting to invest in the non-profit sector and for churches that want to make their missions programs more effective.

Here are some ideas for the five W questions – by no means an exhaustive list:

  • Who: Who are the people God is drawing us to?  It could be a specific demographic group.  Perhaps you find yourself defending them in your mind and your heart and sympathizing with their life situation.  When this happens, sit up and take note.
  • What: Is there a particular issue that grabs your heart.  Clearly for me, the crippling hopelessness and resulting life constraints of severe poverty pushes my buttons.  This is one of the issues that makes me want to climb on my soapbox and tell the world about.  What are yours?
  • Where: Is there a geographical place where the above issues are most prevalent?  Again, for me, that place is Sub-Saharan Africa.  Poverty, combined with the AIDS pandemic wrecks havoc in the lives of “my” demographic group. This compels me to respond with no humming and hawing.  What compels you?
  • When: Is there a particular project that is being implemented now or in the near future that addresses the issues and people group that God has laid on your heart?  Do you give a lump sum of money upfront or do you give on a monthly basis or do you donate your skills and ability?  Is a timely response critical to the outcome? The “when” is actually a very important issue to consider.
  • Why: Why would I give to one group that meets some of these criteria and not another?  I wrote a post on ‘Why would I give them money’ that may be helpful to read.  Also, a belief in a particular type of approach to bringing life change is an important driver.  For me, in the cause of poverty and AIDS in Africa, I strongly believe in community care and community empowerment along with a strong Christ centered approach.  I look for an outworking of this in all those that I partner with.  Ask yourself why you give of your resources to those you partner with.

“A little dab here and there will do – when I get around to it,” is not the philosophy that will have lasting impact.  To bring about meaningful life change to those that God calls us to partner with, requires that our giving be done intentionally and with purpose.

Question: What are some of the things you consider when giving?


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  • Michael Dahl

    ALL good “W” questions. I notice there is not a ‘W’ for wait, and that’s a good thing! I don’t need to wait for something better to come along. If God puts the need and appropriate people to meet that need in front of me.
    Sometimes we want to get involved with a group that is “flashy” and calls out with all the best materials – that’s a good time to go through the list in your blog. That’s when ‘waiting’ until we go through a process is appropriate. Thanks Michelle

    • Michelle Tessendorf

      I like the way you put it Michael – “waiting” until we go through a process.

  • Hallie

    Michelle, Thank you for your insight. I agree with you that we need to prayerfully consider where we invest in the kingdom beyond our monthly tithe. One point that you mention that I think really hits home for me is besides giving my money, am I willing to step up and get my hands dirty for the cause and for the organization? I think participating, be that volunteering, visiting the project, etc, is essential because it doesn’t allow us to be detached from where our money goes but instead we have the opportunity to be impacted and served ourselves.

    • Michelle Tessendorf

      Oh yes – getting our hands dirty for the cause! So needed and can take a number of forms. Thanks for contributing Hallie.

  • Dustin

    Giving is tough. It would be great to try saying Yes to everything but we need a system to make sure the money/time we giving is intentional and with purpose. I’m also reminded of Mark 12:44 where the widow gave everything she owned while others gave out of surplus. Maybe sometimes we are too direction, too judemental and discerning and instead we should just give with an open heart…

    • Michelle Tessendorf

      I agree Dustin – giving can be tough. It helps me to have some guidelines.

  • Mike

    Having been the lead pastor of a church which was perceived to have abundant resources, I think these guidelines are great.

    In addition to weekly appeals in the mail, we regularly had people with great ideas/vision/ministries (there were some that were not so great) coming into the church office to see if we would resource their “thing.” As Dustin mentioned, it would have been easy to say Yes to all, or just as easy to say No to all, but I believe God expects more from us than that, and so we sincerely tried to assess each appeal and need intelligently and prayerfully.

    The “W’s” Michelle speaks of gives a good framework to think things through before taking them to God in prayer.

    • Michelle Tessendorf

      Thanks Mike – it’s good to know that from an organization viewpoint, the five W’s are meaningful.

  • Deborah Johnson

    The Lord puts it on our hearts where we can be cheerful givers and other times I think we can use another “W” weigh; to carefully explore all areas of a ministry to be good stewards of what the Lord has given us. Just as an example Haiti we could be donating and lining the pockets of the government and not really getting help to the people if we give to the wrong organizations.

    As Dustin said, giving with an open heart is most important no matter what someone does with it as long as we follow the Lord’s leading. That gentle tug on our hearts.

    • Michelle Tessendorf

      I absolutely agree that God wants us to be good stewards of the resources He entrusts us with.