Being part of a church that loves God and loves to take the love of God into the world is an amazing blessing. Our church is developing a deeper spirit of joy every week. There is also a growing spirit of faith among the leadership. We have moved from being glad that people came to the church to actively seeking to help people connect with Jesus Christ and find the life he offers.
In my conversations with other Methodist pastors I have learned we’re not alone. As a church – nationally and globally – we have repented of our lackadaisical ways and are purposely looking to engage the world so that lives can be transformed and God can be glorified. But, there is a real challenge before us.
On one hand, the Methodist Challenge is one of resources – the level of our giving impacts the level of our ministry. On the other hand, the greatest challenge may be one of communication. This is where our leadership team found our greatest challenge. How do we help people move beyond “the church wants our money” to “we are the church and we long for God to use our resources to change lives”?
This is the time of year most United Methodist churches are talking about “apportionments” – the amount requested of local churches to help the ministry of the global church (it should not be the only time, but that’s a subject for future blogging). Through this part of our ministry we help pay salaries of the Bishop and other staff members, as well as resourcing the work being done across the world by them and others. To some it seems like “they” are taking money from us – but the reality is, where else will it come from? (And, the truth is, “they” are “us”). As a local church we can fund our ministry to our local mission field. But, how do the poor fund the ministry of hope and help to their communities? Certainly God is calling us to be part of something greater than just a neighborhood mission. Certainly God would be glorified if we were involved in a world-wide effort to change lives.
For an example of how our giving impacts others, consider the ministry that allows us to broadcast the good news in Africa via a United Methodist sponsored radio initiative. ( click here for a news story. ) It also allows people in rural areas to get information needed to help stem the tide of disease and death. What this means is we have the chance to change lives – the lives of not just our neighbors but also the lives of people half a world away.
As you consider your giving, as you make decisions about your personal needs and your financial goals, I invite you to consider giving first to God. Let your giving to God be first on your list. You can help change the lives of your neighbors, and you can help change the life of the child you may never meet on the other side of the world. I promise this – the blessing of that giving is greater than anything you could purchase for yourself.
Holy high five to you, Mike