One of the questions that came up related to the priority of giving money to Christian organisations - whether they be our local church, mission, social action, child sponsorship etc. Should we as Christians show a preference to where our 'giving dollar' goes?
I think the answer is clearly 'yes' - but I wonder if the order I came up with is based on pragmatics rather than scripture? One of the arguments put forward was that there are a whole lot of people in the world who will give to various aid groups that are not Christian (Amnesty, Medicines san Frontier etc) and so therefore as Christians we should concentrate on the Christian organisations and projects. Afterall, your average bloke walking down Martin Place is unlikely to give money to CMS! Thats not a bad argument, but I always get a bit nervous arguing from pragmatics, so can we do a bit better?
Galatians 6:10 encourages us to do good to everyone, and especially those who are of the household of faith. I'm sure this isn't just talking about cash, but surely it includes cash.
We know that the early church certainly put a high priority on collecting and giving money to other churches (1Cor 16:1-3) and that the local church workers had the right to be paid (1Cor 9:8-12).
And so surely the ministry of our local church and our fellow Christians around the world must figure highly in our giving pattern, which perhaps means when it comes to our giving dollar, groups that are not involved in gospel work should fall to the bottom of our list, or even off the list all together.
Here's a little observation for what its worth. I think most Christians do pretty well at supporting the ministry of their local church. Sure churches could always so with a bit more money and there are always new projects to be done, but on the whole when it comes to the local budget, there are a lot of very generous people around.
But sometimes thats where the giving dollar can stop. The attitude can be 'I'll spend my dollar in my patch and thats that.' I wonder if sometimes we need another reminder of the spirit of 'doing good for those outside our parish boundary'. Whether it be AFES, CMS, MTS or whatever - we need to ensure that our definition of 'the household of faith' is not limited to those who we see at church on Sunday.
Its another way we can work at bearing fruit.