Disasters. Hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, and other disasters are perennial problems in our fallen world. World Relief partners with local churches to bring practical help and gospel hope to the hurting.

Great Commission. Scores of agencies, both denominational and nondenominational, plant churches, run hospitals, and perform other ministries to exalt Christ and build his kingdom among the nations. The Mission Handbook is a good guide to the many options.

Evangelism. While sharing the gospel is everyone’s responsibility and privilege, some ministries focus on this life-giving work, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Luis Palau Association and Greg Laurie’s Harvest Ministries.

Ideas. Christian news, information, and analysis are vital tools for believers in our ever-changing world. Yet recent changes in publishing and in the economy have made journalism increasingly challenging. The writers, editors, journalists, and thought leaders at Christianity Today, Books & Culture, BreakPoint, and World are doing great work. They need and deserve your support.

Higher education. Given the exploding costs of college, why not give a financial gift to a deserving student, or make a contribution to the school scholarship fund of your choice? College advancement offices will be happy to assist you.

These are all suggestions and do not exhaust the possibilities. ECFA’s website provides a boatload of resources to help you choose wisely from among hundreds more reputable ministries. You might focus on one or two agencies to maximize your dollar’s impact in one area or share with a wider range of ministries so that different kinds of kingdom work can be supported. It’s up to you and the Lord.

However you choose to celebrate Christmas this year, put Christ at the center. The magi’s gifts honored the King. Yours can, too.

Stan Guthrie, a Christianity Today editor at large, is author of All That Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Centuryand coauthor of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Stan blogs at http://stanguthrie.com/blog.

Publication date: December 3, 2012