This blog is the combined effort of four senior pastors of different churches. Their desire is to point you toward living a God-centered, gospel-focused, Christian life.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Giving to Parachurch Ministries

Our series in Luke has taken a little bit of a detour as we started a two-week discussion on giving yesterday.

My primary giving is to my local church. Several of you asked about other organizations I give to. All the organizations and missionaries I give to on a monthly basis beyond my giving to Bethany are also supported by the church, but there are some very good organizations I support on a semi-regular basis that are not a part of Bethany. 

I mentioned three criteria I use when considering supporting a parachurch organization. 

1. Doctrinal Alignment. Do the organization and I agree on the major truths of the Christian faith? You can find a copy of BCC's doctrinal statement here.

2. Philosophical Alignment. Do this organization and I agree that the purpose of a parachurch ministry is to strengthen the local church? Philosophically, our goal is not to see parachurch organizations establishing churches or churches establishing parachurch organizations or parachurch organizations establishing parachurch organizations.  All that we do is designed to help the local church work toward the goal of establishing and strengthening the local church.

3. Mission Alignment. Does this organization have the ability to do the ministry it is seeking to do? Are we in agreement that this is a needed ministry?

I also mentioned Randy Alcorn's list of 19 questions to ask before giving to an organization. The entire list along with additional commentary can be found here

Here is the list without the commentary:
  1. Are there things about this ministry that make it uniquely worth investing in instead of a thousand other good causes?
  2. Before giving elsewhere, have I fulfilled my primary giving responsibility to my localchurch?
  3. Have I not only studied the literature from this ministry, but talked with others who know it close up but have no vested interests in it?
  4. Have I considered a ministry or vision trip to see and participate in what this ministry is actually doing on the field?
  5. Does the ministry’s staff demonstrate a servant-hearted concern for those to whom they minister?
  6. Do the organization’s workers demonstrate a sense of unity, camaraderie and mutual respect?
  7. Have I talked directly with people at the “lower levels” of this ministry, not just executives and PR people?
  8. Is this ministry biblically sound and Christ-centered?
  9. What kind of character, integrity, purity and humility is demonstrated by the ministry leaders?
  10. What kind of accountability structures does the organization have?
  11. If this is a secular or semi-Christian organization rather than a distinctively Christian one, what are the compelling reasons for giving to it?
  12. How clear are this organization’s goals and objectives, strategies and tactics, and how effective are they in carrying them out?
  13. Is this organization teachable and open to improvement to become more strategic in their efforts?
  14. Am I certain I’ve gotten an objective view of this ministry, or have they given me the red carpet treatment so I’ve seen the positives without the negatives?
  15. What view of God and people is demonstrated in this organization’s fundraising techniques?
  16. How much money does the organization spend on overhead expenses and fundraising, and how much in actual ministry to people?
  17. Does this ministry show a clear understanding of cross-cultural ministry factors and local conditions and how the flow of money may affect them?
  18. Does this organization speak well of others and cooperate with them?
  19. Is this ministry pervaded by a distinctly eternal perspective on life, ministry and resources?
May God increase your joy as you give for His glory!


  1. Regarding criteria 2 above, "supporting the local church", can you elaborate on what that means? Does not supporting the local church mean lacking a spiritual component? I could see most spiritual aspects of a ministry being in support of some local church somewhere.

  2. What I mean by that is that the parachurch is working to specifically strengthen a local church's ability to do ministry. So, they're not just caring for orphans... they're helping churches care for orphans.

    Lifesong's emphasis on helping us begin an orphan care ministry is a good positive example of what I'm thinking of here. They could have just tried to get people to support their effort. Instead, they worked to equip the church to do the ministry. They also have proven to be flexible as they work with churches in different circumstances. Their goal isn't just to do a cookie cutter approach to ministry but to help a church where needs exist.