At our house we make a lot of lists, especially in December…the grocery list, the Christmas card list, the gift list, the event list, the prayer list, and the end-of-year giving list. Now, during this week between Christmas and the beginning of the New Year, all of the items on those lists have been checked off and completed except for the final list. Today we are working on our end-of-year giving list, a list that includes the ministry initiatives and charitable organizations we freely choose to support.
Throughout the year, we give a tithe of our income to the ministries of our church. We understand a tithe to be the first tenth of our earnings. For us, tithing is first and foremost an act of obedience to what we believe the Bible teaches. Through the years we have also observed that the cumulative ministry projects of a local church make the most significant impact advancing the cause of Christ in the local community and around the world. So as an extension of the work of our local church, every December we give an offering beyond our tithe to our Christmas Missions Offering that supports missionaries around the globe.
Amanda and I are blessed to be able to contribute to a few other ministries and organizations that we are passionate about, but most of our end-of–year-gifts are centered around our church because we believe “this is where the action is.”
This year, the process is much easier because we have converted to electronic giving. Most ministries and charitable organizations, including our church, now have an “online giving” link that enables us to transfer our gifts directly from our account to the designated recipient. Of course you can still mail a check or personally deliver a contribution, but we have discovered electronic giving to be safe and immediate, and electronic receipts are provided for good record keeping.
The Bible teaches us that “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
As you designate your end-of-year giving, be cheerful, generous and wise. And remember, as you prepare your end-of-year gift, the IRS requires that all contributions for this fiscal year must be received, electronically transferred, or postmarked by December 31.
So today, we are making our list, checking it twice, and then hitting “send.”
(Barry Howard serves as the senior minister of the First Baptist Church in Pensacola.)