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: 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)

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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