God loves a cheerful giver and United Methodists are givers.
In biblical times, people gave and tithed the actual products they grew or made – grain, wool, vegetables or oil. It would be hard to justify only financial giving by looking to Scripture.
"Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing" (Malachi 3:10, NRSV).
Herbie Krisle, a 25-year member of Collierville (Tenn.) United Methodist Church, has been sharing her gift of song with fellow church members since she could walk and talk.
"I can't remember a time in my life when I was not involved in choral music at my church," Krisle says. "My parents began taking me to church as soon as I was born, and as a toddler, I was part of the kids' choir. I've been singing in church ever since."
When Krisle was a college student in Arkansas, she often pulled double choir duty. She would sing at her home church, then leave and go to share her beautiful soprano voice at a nearby small church.
"I really felt like helping that church was a way to give back to God," she says. "I still feel that way. I have always seen choral worship as an integral part of the worship experience. I have been blessed with the ability — and desire — to sing, so I have a duty to serve in that capacity."
Krisle says being involved in the choral music program requires a great deal of commitment on a weekly basis for the choir members.
"There is a least a two-hour rehearsal midweek and two hours on Sunday morning," she says. "Sometimes it's even more than that depending on our church season. When we have multiple Sunday morning worship services, the choir is expected to be at each one. Our worship leader encourages excellence in all of us."
Krisle believes that for most of her fellow choir members, rehearsal time often is as much a time of worship as is the Sunday service. It's during rehearsal they begin to take the music into their hearts and God speaks to them through the music.
"I think most of us look at our service in music as worship," she says. "I believe that even during rehearsal, we are giving our gifts and talents.
"I feel like I serve my fellow church members by sharing in leading worship," Krisle continues. "The spirit with which we sing helps those in the pews sing with more gusto and dedication. I believe the anthems, while not performances, bring all worshippers nearer to God. I hope that our voices bring all worshippers to the throne of God while we sing."
Polly House is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
United Methodist Church Giving is about people working together to accomplish something bigger than themselves. In so doing, we effect change around the world, all in the name of Jesus Christ. To read stories about the generosity of United Methodists click here.