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).
Serving outside the walls of the church is also the way Cesie Delve Scheuermann sees God most at work.
A member of First United Methodist Church in Salem, Ore., she works as a consultant in stewardship, development and grant writing. She also writes a blog, "Inspiring Generosity," for the Oregon-Idaho Conference website, www.umoi.org/blogs.
Scheuermann sees her congregation serving its city through a quarterly event, "Saturdays of Service."
"One thing our church is very good at is understanding it's equally important to serve the church from within and to serve our neighbors from without," she says.
"We encourage our members to serve God and each other through participation in worship, music, committees, teaching, child care and other jobs," she says. "It takes all of us to help the church organization function well.
"But we also encourage our members to serve Salem and the rest of the world," she continues.
"We make sure that each member of the family has a way to serve appropriately. For example, adults and youth might go out and clean up a dirty street, pick up trash, clean up a park, serve a meal, pass out water, something like that. We teach our church children about the joy of serving, too. They have put together backpacks for school kids. They've helped at the humane association. We want them to see serving as a normal thing."
Scheuermann says Salem First teaches about serving the world.
"We have members who are missionaries in Kenya working at a hospital through the (General Board of) Global Ministries' Zoe Project," she says. "We give our money, of course, but more importantly, we give our fervent prayer support to this ministry."
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.