My wife and I recently returned from a vacation in the Caribbean. We love snorkeling and watching the variety of sea life that God created. We saw angelfish, parrotfish, eels, needlefish, pufferfish, urchins, rays, and more. It was a beautiful reminder of Psalm 69:34: “Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them.”
God’s creation constantly exhibits his generosity and creativity. He truly “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Similarly, he demonstrates his creativity among believers as well. Paul told the church at Corinth, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1 Corinthians 12:4–6).
As we consider our own giving, it’s easy to be inspired by God’s generosity and creativity and the variety of his gifting to believers. We can experience a renewed joy and purpose in our offerings by seeking out creative ways to give in addition to our regular church giving.
We can experience a renewed joy and purpose in our offerings by seeking out creative ways to give.
Any consideration of giving must begin with the fundamental understanding of who owns our resources. In the beginning, God created everything and put Adam in the garden to work and care for it. Man was commissioned to manage, or steward, the creation that God had given him. This is the foundational principle of biblical stewardship: God owns everything; we are simply stewards, or managers, of what he provides. This can be said another way: nothing we have is actually ours.
If you aren’t sure where to start, ask God to direct you. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Over the years, my wife and I have been blessed to give in unique and diverse ways to meet a variety of needs and worthy goals in addition to our church giving. We’ve supported individual missionaries, sponsored a child at a Christian school in Kenya, given unexpected food and finances when a friend was laid off due to illness, and helped a struggling single mom get on her feet. We are always on the lookout for new and creative ways God would have us steward the resources that have been entrusted to us. And we know that when we are unsure how to proceed, we can rely on him to guide us, for he is faithful (Psalm 32:8).
When considering where to give your—or rather, God’s—resources, consider your passions and the issues the Lord has put on your heart. It is by design that we will care more about one cause and not so much about another. Does your heart ache for victims of sex trafficking? Do you feel passionate about providing emergency relief when a disaster strikes? Would supporting your local pregnancy care center or assisting with a Christmas ministry be something that energizes you? Allow your God-given passions to lead you to the ministry he has for you.
Look for small ministries and student missionaries to support, not just the larger or well-known charities. Investing in a student who is considering the mission field could change the world. Investing locally allows you to know those involved and perhaps volunteer yourself. Being up close and personal in our giving brings a special joy and fulfillment when we see what God has done through our gifts and their impact in our own city or neighborhood.
Unfortunately, not all charities are created equal. Before investing in a nonprofit or supporting a charity, find out how much of your gift actually goes to those being served. Be sure that the values and beliefs of the organization align with your own and stand on the authority of God’s Word. Review the group’s website, statement of faith, annual report, and other sources of information such as Charity Navigator, GuideStar, or Excellence in Giving. If a nonprofit is local, consider attending an event or volunteering to get a better feel for the organization, its staff, and operations.
Ask God to show you a variety of opportunities to give. Can you help pay medical bills for a friend or family member? How about making a college tuition payment for a member of your church? Could you buy a meal for a needy family? Or take groceries to the local food pantry? What about stuffing a back-to-school backpack for a child? The possibilities are endless.
One creative way we’ve supported our local pregnancy care center is to continually collect our change in a jar and then give it at the end of the year as a donation. We are always surprised at how all those coins add up.
Our creativity in giving doesn’t have to end with this lifetime. There are many ways that you can provide for and protect your loved ones after you die while also providing for your favorite ministries. Assets that would be taxed if given to your loved ones will escape taxation if given to charity. A charitable gift annuity or a charitable trust can provide lifetime tax benefits and future income for you and loved ones. As good stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us, we ought to consider such options.
If you would like to learn more about these and other creative ways to give, please email email@example.com.