The Ministry of Writing Checks
Adapted from the video series Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions.
There’s an idea out there that giving money to a poverty alleviation ministry is a cop out to being personally engaged in the ministry. In other words, writing a check is somehow not good enough. Those directly involved in on-the-ground development ministries have a different view—that the most relational thing many people can do to help end poverty is actually writing checks to organizations that do effective, asset based, participatory development.
When a poverty alleviation ministry is properly funded, it frees the staff to be fully present in long-term relational ministry. And when we write those checks to organizations we care about that are doing good work, we can know that we’re engaging and playing a vital part in effective ministry.
Giving and Serving
Of course, in our own churches and communities, we can and should invest both our financial gifts and our whole selves—when you are the person present for the long haul, your time, skills, and social capital bring a lot of value! Perhaps there are places where your church could reach beyond its “borders.” This might include being part of a poverty alleviation ministry in your own community where you can build long-term relationships.
Another way you can serve is through being an advocate–putting the challenge before your church to engage internationally through prayer and with their finances and personally in your own community.
Remember though, that the goal of any poverty alleviation effort is to see people restored to being who God created them to be: people who understand that they are created in the image of God with the gifts, abilities, and capacity to make decisions and to effect change in the world around them; people who steward their lives, communities, resources, and relationships in order to bring glory to God. These things tend to happen in highly relational, process-focused ministries. One of the best ways to facilitate this is to give generously to organizations so they can pay people to spend lots of time hanging out with those they serve, building transformational relationships across time.
Gratitude is the Root
Whether your ministry calling is working directly alongside people in material poverty, giving financially, or advocating for those who do have that calling and opportunity, you can rest in the knowledge that God has given all of us various gifts for the building up of His body in various ways.
If our gift is to walk with people in hands-on ministry, we can give thanks for that, and for those whose generosity God uses to make it possible. If our opportunity to serve comes through financial support, we can thank God for the ministry of writing checks that equip and empower others.
We can do a lot of things over the course of life, and we can be thankful that God has placed us where He has at various seasons of life. Our prayer for each of you is to experience God’s great shalom, His great peace in your life as you seek to minister in his name in this world.