Christians are generous people who enjoy giving to help others and advance the Kingdom. We, as a church, have supported many good causes, and people regularly ask us to support more causes. It is impossible to give to everyone, so allow me to offer a few things to consider as you talk to people asking for your money.
First, ask the person about his/her church involvement. Is his/her local church a priority? The local church takes precedent over all other ministries because the local church is the only ministry called the Bride of Christ. The apostles did not write epistles to parachurches. They wrote to churches. If the individual is not committed to the Bride of Christ, that indicates something about his/her commitment to Christ.
Second, along with the previous, ask about his/her financial commitment to the local church. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Don’t hesitate to ask what percentage of his/her gross income funds the local church. Even if he/she is in a low income bracket, a portion of his/her income should fund the church. Not only will this give you an indication of how much he/she loves the Bride of Christ, but it will also tell you whether or not the person knows how to give in a way that he/she is asking you yourself to give.
Third, ask the person if ministry leaders within his/her church would vouch for him/her. God has appointed elders and church leaders to watch over his/her soul (Hebrews 13:17). Para-church leaders are not charged with this task. If his/her church leaders are doing their job, they will know whether or not this person is fit to steward your money for the Kingdom.
Fourth, ask the person about his/her Christian character. Follow up by asking his/her church leaders about his/her character. Scripture offers clear character qualities for those who should be appointed to leadership roles (for example James 3:1). Can this person say, “Follow-me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1)? If not, perhaps your funds could better be used elsewhere.
Fifth, ask about the particular mission of the organization to which you are giving. Is it gospel-centered or just humanitarian? Do you agree with it? Does it excite you more than other missions? You can’t give to all missions, so be picky and only give to the best.
Sixth, ask about his/her work ethic. Has he/she ever had a real job? Does he/she know what it is like to answer to a real boss and go to work when he/she doesn’t feel like it? A lot of Christian mission experiences promote Disneyland type visions of God’s Kingdom by offering the message, “Do what your heart wants” or “Dream big.” There is something good about attempting great things for God, but outside of a strong work-ethic with life experience the Westernized mission experience can cater to the fanciful idealist more than the sacrificial missionary of the Bible. It could be that the potential missionary will better serve the Lord by learning to glorify Him in the normalcy of the mundane and the tiresome, just like most Christians, outside of the privileged Western middle-class, have done for millennia.
Seventh, ask him/her when was the last time he/she shared the gospel. If he/she is not telling people about Jesus here, he/she won’t be more effective somewhere else.
Eighth, don’t be afraid to say, “No.” Not only will we answer for every penny we spend on ourselves, but we will also answer for every penny we give away. Learn where you’re money goes before you give it.
If through this process you become convinced that it is a worthy cause, give in faith, and expect to reap out of what you have sown. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)!