It is that season when folks are at their most charitable and from which we [and most ministries] derive a significant portion of our annual budget. The fact is this ministry cannot exist without the generous support of people who give out of their financial resources.
To be honest I find this whole notion of asking for money very difficult. Mine is a prophetic ministry that seeks to challenge, teach, and equip the Body of Christ and I am too often reluctant to insert the seemingly crass appeal for money into that context. However, this is a result my own failure to adequately embrace the spiritual implications and blessing of giving to the work of the Kingdom.
Money and specifically our attitude toward money and giving are repeatedly addressed in Scripture. It is our attitude toward money that the Lord is primarily concerned with and giving money away is most often where our attitudes are both challenged and revealed. Thus the Lord in His providence has determined that the burden for the financial provision of His work and those ministries that He has called into being fall upon His people.
Let's face it; there is, for some of us, something that rises up in us when confronted by the challenge to give financially. It is in the wake of such challenge that we are made immediately, and sometimes painfully, aware of our attitudes toward our possessions and financial gifts from the Lord - either we believe it is "ours" and thus the request seems to be a threat to "our treasure" and lifestyle or we understand that it is all His and we instead seek to know how He would like us to apply His resources in that particular instance.
According to Barna Research in 2003, the proportion of US households that tithe their income to their church - that is, give at least ten percent of their income to that ministry - has dropped by 62%, from 8% in 2001 to just 3% of adults during 2002. This issue of giving is perhaps one of the greatest areas of spiritual struggle for the American Church. I have to confess that I too struggle in this area. I am often looking at my bank account and reasoning that I don't have enough money to both give to the work of the Lord and meet my family's monthly obligations. I am ashamed to admit that all too often my "reasoning" errs on the side of monthly obligations and my material desires rather than trusting in the Lord's provision.
This might be one of the reasons for my own discomfort in asking others to support this ministry financially - I feel hypocritical. I know that I could give more than I do and yet I frequently do not. I have seen the Lord bless me, my family and this ministry with financial resources in ways that are indescribable apart from supernatural means and yet I still struggle with insecurity over finances. To be honest this frustrates me and I earnestly seek to have the Lord free me from this irrational insecurity. He and He alone is our hope and our resource and this includes the area of our most basic material needs. I know this intellectually and I have experienced this repeatedly and yet I continue to struggle in this area. Once again, my desperate and daily need of the Lord's grace is made clear to me and the illusion of independence is shattered.
The Lord in His mercy has indeed blessed this ministry beyond anything that I could have imagined despite my many shortcomings and failures and I pray that He in His mercy would continue to use me.
A Weekly reader and friend in Africa recently wrote saying, "I will beg that you do all you can by totally depending on the Holy Spirit of God, to stay pure and Holy. So that the world can continuously remain blessed by this great ministry the Lord Jesus has given you."
I have rarely received more humbling words. This is indeed the Lord's ministry and I am grateful for the reminder of my need to depend on Him and that I only continue at His good pleasure. If and when I cease to please Him then He is well within His royal rights to choose another. I would ask you to join with my African friend in praying for me and this ministry - pray that I would indeed depend entirely upon the Holy Spirit and trust Him in everything including finances.
In conclusion, I want to invite you to prayerfully consider making a financial contribution to this ministry. Your contributions will go directly to support the continuation of this work and ministry which now reaches an audience of nearly 2 million readers each month across the US as well as a growing number of countries around the world. The Center for Christ & Culture is a ministry of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families (NCPCF). NCPCF is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt status organization. All donations are tax-deductible. If you would like to learn more about the Center for Christ & Culture visit: www.battlefortruth.org
You can donate online or send your contribution by mail to: Center for Christ & Culture, 15455 Dallas Parkway, Sixth Floor, Addison, TX 75001
I will be taking some time off from my weekly writing during this Christmas season to attend to some necessary administrative responsibilities and prepare for a very busy teaching and speaking schedule beginning in January. I pray that this Christmas season will, for you, be a time of great joy and fellowship as well as a precious reminder of the greatest event in human history - the Savior and King has come!
Copyright 2006 S. Michael Craven
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S. Michael Craven is the Founding Director of the Center for Christ & Culture, a ministry of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families. The Center for Christ & Culture is dedicated to renewal within the Church and works to equip Christians with an intelligent and thoroughly Christian approach to matters of culture in order to recapture and demonstrate the relevance of Christianity to all of life. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, additional resources and other works by S. Michael Craven visit: www.battlefortruth.org
Michael lives in the Dallas area with his wife Carol and their three children.