Energetic Supporters

Boosters

Booster [boo-ster]

noun

  1. a person or thing that boosts, especially an energetic and enthusiastic supporter.

Football teams have Boosters.

Schools have Boosters.

Can churches have Boosters?

Jesus had Boosters.  Mary and Martha were two of his favorites.  “Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.” Luke 10:38-29 NASB

The apostle Paul had Boosters.  Rufus and his mother who was like a mother to Paul were just two of Paul’s many Boosters. “Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine.” Romans 16:13 NIV

Surely then a local church can have Boosters who are enthusiastic supporters in the community that can help get the word out about the ministries of the church and contribute in many ways to the life of the church.

Boosterville is a program that allows non profit groups like local churches to encourage their “Boosters” to make purchases from participating Boosterville businesses, such as restaurants, hair salons, pet groomers, bookstores, coffee shops and more. In return, these businesses share back a small portion of those purchases directly to the nonprofit group designated by the buyer.

Recently, a check was presented at the Indiana Annual Conference for the money Bethel UMC Boosters in Indianapolis raised during their first month of using Boosterville.  They’ve used Boosterville to support fellowship outside of the church by sending members to gather at a local pizza place to raise money as a group.

Does your church have Boosters who are ready to participate?

Monday Meditation – Giving

Giving

It is the heart that does the giving; the fingers only let go. – Nigeria proverb

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 NIV

All giving is from the heart.  Giving is first an inner choice before being an outward action.

We must ask ourselves several questions as we give.  It will help strengthen our hearts toward generosity and away from selfishness.

  1. What am I giving? Finances, time, gifts?
  2. Why am I giving? Conscience, habit, guilt, love?
  3. What does God think of my giving?

As Christians we realize that what we have is a blessing.  Being good stewards of the things we’ve been given should be a priority.

A friend of mine had stopped giving to her local church because the congregation seemed to be on a theological course she did not appreciate.  She had been giving money and time to the church but had stopped both.  She continued to attend church because she had been a member there for over fifteen years.  Even though she entertained thoughts of leaving the church, she didn’t.  She still loved the people there.

God pricked her conscience and asked her why she wasn’t giving anymore to the church.  One reason was to “punish” the church for doing what she believed to be wrong.

God asked her if “punishing” the church was an acceptable form of protest.  She struggled with the question because it seemed like a conventional way to get her point across.

However, was that really the case?  She finally concluded that her “punishing” the church was really her attempt to “control” the church. But this is God’s church and that action was unacceptable.

If things were wrong, she needed to make her case.  She needed to show she was invested in the church community.  Withholding her giving was not doing either of these actions.

As a result, she went back to teaching bible study and giving financially.  Within weeks, a ministry opportunity came up that was near and dear to her heart and the church took it on.  Now her tithe and offerings support not only the church but also this new ministry.

We must get our hearts right with God before we start trying to use our giving as a vehicle of protest against the Church.  In some cases, it may be appropriate.  In some cases, it may not.

However, we must all seek God’s guidance so that our generosity is never stunted for our own personal agenda.  Keeping in mind all those that we, as a Church in connection, can help by our generosity begs us to give and give generously.

Dear God reveal to us our innermost feelings and thoughts.  Show us how to give joyously and generously to your ministries here on earth.  Let us put away our foolish intentions and look for your guidance.  Amen.

When We All Get TOGETHER …

Together We Can

First Quarter Giving

The title of this blog is a paraphrase of the familiar song we sing, but the idea is the same. I was reminded of that song title as I looked through our giving trends for the first quarter of 2017.

This is the first year for the Central Conferences to contribute to apportionments in a formal way.  Work of the leadership in the Central Conferences, the Economic Advisory Committee, the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters and others helped us get to this point. Their work developed a formula that is being used this quadrennium to fully engage Central Conferences in general Church apportioned giving.  Developing this formula honors the tradition of many conferences outside the US that informally participated prior to this year.

We have started the year with great participation. Through March, the collections are 13.1% of the full year’s apportionment.  This rate is comparable to that in the U.S. and is a great beginning to this new process.  Globally, Special Sunday collections are 6.8% higher than last year thanks to the generous giving of our members on World Communion Sunday.

Apportionment Giving

Apportionment collections through March are $1.1 million, or 6.4%, higher than the same period last year.  We recognize that for many members, local churches, and annual conferences connectional giving is a priority even if locally finances are tight.

It is apparent that many recognize the value of “getting together” to support global ministries to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world in all the ways that we do this in The United Methodist Church. The evidence proves that the people of The United Methodist Church are committed to giving to supporting global ministries.

Each of the seven funds shows increased collections compared to last year. The overall collection rate through March is 12.4% compared to 11.9% a year ago. The highest collection rate is Africa University at 15.1% with its collection up 10%!  With over 6,000 alumni, this funding will provide an education for many more people in Africa.  It also demonstrates the importance of this mission to all United Methodists.

Other funds that show increases above 10% are the Black College Fund and the General Administration Fund.

All of these trends demonstrate the generosity and commitment to God’s mission by those in The United Methodist Church. When we all come TOGETHER for the benefit of the global ministries of the denomination, great things happen for those whom we serve.  Thank you for your faithful witness of fruitful giving.

Rick King

Chief Financial Officer

The General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church

Meditation Monday: Opportunity Costs – Investing Our Disposable Income

Opportunity Costs

“So much of what Americans live with is an economic landscape – malls, stores, and movie theaters, ski slopes and theme parks –  in which one’s relationship to place had to do with boredom, undisciplined need, and envy.” Gretel Ehrlich, Sacred Earth

Disposable Income

When you drive around your town, what passes you by?

A big box store? Restaurants? A couple of grocery stores?  Two of the same brand coffee shops? Office buildings? Houses, apartments? A park or soccer field? Schools or churches? Hospitals?

It isn’t any wonder with all these choices that we “invest” our disposable income on things. In 2007, we were exposed to 600 advertisements a day. Now we are exposed to 3,000 advertisements a day; 1.2 million in a year.

Jesus was asked to judge in a dispute between brothers over their inheritance, but he said, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15 (CEB)

In a culture today that depends on consuming goods and services, every activity seems to have a price tag. Everything is for sale. But Jesus warned us that our love of possessions should not overpower our love of those around us.

Opportunity Costs

Rev. Adam Hamilton, in a sermon on money, put forth the idea that for every purchase we make, there is an additional opportunity cost that we must consider.

What would happen if we reconsidered our spending choices according to opportunity costs?  Could we, instead, buy 8,000 mosquito nets for Africa, 1,600 food baskets for Syrian refugees, or make a real impact in the lives of individuals for years to come through one of the many ministries of our local churches and connectional ministries of The United Methodist Church.

Dear God, we are grateful for all that we have when so many go without.  Help us to be generous not only with our finances but with our time and effort as well.  Show us the path you would have us take in the coming days, months and years.  Amen.

Meditation Monday: True Inheritance

True Inheritance

It may sound very selfish.

“I hope the church is around long enough to have my funeral.”

For many churches that find their numbers dwindling, such a sentiment is often expressed to clergy as discussion about the future of the church takes place. While the sentiment is a bit self-centered, the need it calls to is deep.

The more important inheritance is to leave a place just as comforting to the next generation as the church has been to us.

True Inheritance

Even as we draw nearer to the time of our death as an individual, our legacy is still influenced by our actions or lack of action. No matter what our age, we as individuals and as a church must continue to look toward the future for those who are following in our footsteps or who have yet to know the freedom of the gospel.

Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 2 Peter 1:12-15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Administration – A Ministry of Support

Administration

We seem to be in a time when “administration” is a bad word.  I hear too many pastors and laity who speak of “administration” as if it is a necessary evil at best, or at worst as if it gets in the way of “real ministry.”

The Ministry of Administration

The truth is that “administration” — when rightly understood — is actual ministry. It also provides the means, tools, resources, and planning to make ministry more effective.  Our ordained Elders should know this, in particular, because part of our vows for ordination include the promise to “order” the life of the church.  The Apostle Paul lists “administration” is one of the roles that God has placed within the Body of Christ to enhance ministry (I Corinthians 12:28).  And it is simply common sense that “administer” means “to or toward ministry.”

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Meditation Monday: Willing Hearts

Willing Hearts

Jesus is looking for willing hearts, not a dollar amount.

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. Mark 10:17-22 (NASB)

Several American billionaires have pledged to give away their entire fortunes. After securing their family’s needs and wants, whatever is left over they promise to give away to charity.

Giving from abundance is a vastly different experience from giving from scarcity. The amount of choices changes. One billion dollars can fund a lot more works of charity than $100 can.

For Jesus however it is never about the amount. The fishermen gave up everything to follow Christ. The rich man would not give up one thing in order to follow Christ. While one sacrifice was probably greater than the other in total amount, what Jesus was looking for was willing hearts.

Is your heart willing to give? It doesn’t matter if you have billions or just pennies to give; your desire to give what you do have is what brings about the blessings of God. This is what it means to have willing hearts.

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” Luke 21:1-4 (NKJV)

Heavenly Father help us to have willing hearts and to be willing servants of your Word. That in giving we fulfill a part of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. Remind us that giving is more than pennies and hundred dollar bills. We are also to give our time, our compassion, our love to those in need of it, just as Christ did and does. Amen.

1 Doughnut, Numerous Savings

Doughnuts

 

What would you do to keep the doughnuts in your church every Sunday? When the finance committee had to cut the church’s doughnuts, Monte Chamberlin had seen enough budget cuts to last a life time. When the committee adjourned, Monte set out to save the cherished Sunday morning doughnuts—which served as a time of fellowship, sharing and caring. What he found was a way to leverage a coalition of churches to buy 200,000 doughnuts annually and reduce the church’s total expenses. Because of a doughnut, Monte founded Cost Stewardship, a company that finds abandoned or unknown refunds available from government agencies and utility providers.

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Ministry of Hospitality

Ministry of Hospitality

UMCmarket.com can help support ministries in the most unlikely places. In the respected halls of academia, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafts from the office of the Wesley Foundation at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), in Murfreesboro, TN. This smell of coffee helps to usher students into a ministry of hospitality.

When the MTSU Wesley Foundation meets, it is able to provide not only holy fellowship in the Wesleyan tradition to the students who attend, but also drinks and snacks.

Reverend Tyson Ferguson who oversees the Foundation says, “With the dollars from UMCmarket we are able to purchase fair trade coffee through equal exchange and provide free coffee and tea to students at the MTSU Wesley Foundation on a daily basis. Having drinks and snacks is one way we are able to be a ministry of hospitality to the students, build relationships, and share about their faith journey in a meaningful way.”

By using UMCmarket and designating the MTSU Wesley Foundation as their ministry to support, Reverend Ferguson points out that alumni, friends, and others have an opportunity to provide support in a new and innovative way.

He notes that “Extension ministries, like Wesley Foundations, have to raise funds and programs like the UMCmarket are helpful in keeping mission outreach possible.”

With UMCmarket.org, those who shop online can select from several thousand vetted retailers who offer a percentage-of-the-purchase-donation to a local church or other UM ministry.  Each purchase generates a donation to the ministry.  When several people select that ministry, the donation grows.

“… but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.”  Proverbs 13:11b (NIV)

Meditation Monday: New Year Prayers

New Year Prayers

Please join with me in these new year prayers and reflections.

As the new year approaches, it is tempting to look back and relive what has gone on before. But the past still remains the past. It is unchangeable. It is toward the future that we will turn our gaze now. At the General Conference that will be held in 2016, the delegates will have many topics to be prayerful over – all of which will have special significance for the Church.

We pray Holy Spirit wisdom and guidance for the 2016 General Conference delegates. Open their hearts, souls and minds to Your Spirit, Lord.

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