Faithful Community: Gifts and giving go beyond money

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).

United Methodists give generously of their financial blessings, but many don't stop there. Many also give of their time and talents and from their hearts.

Dave Knapp is a member of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio. He found his passion for serving others through participation in mission trips from the church.

Knapp, owner of a successful car dealership in Tipp City, had an epiphany one Sunday morning as the offering plate went by.

"I know it's important to be a faithful steward with our financial resources," he says. "But when the offering plate was passed one Sunday morning, I heard God speaking to my heart, 'Put yourself in that basket, Dave.'

"I remember hearing the sermon in a whole different light after that," he continues. "I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone and serve. I knew I had to step out in faith and do something."

That something for Knapp was to join a mission trip team going to serve survivors of Hurricane Katrina in Slidell, La.

"God has given me a bold spirit," he says. "I'm a car dealer for goodness sake! So, I will gladly go wherever he sends me. The first two times I went to Louisiana, I held back a little, watching what others did. I honestly felt uplifted staying in the background."

As a corporate CEO, Knapp is in charge of a large company every day. He found not being in charge a welcome change. By his third trip to Louisiana, though, he knew God wanted him to do more. God wanted Knapp to lead some of these mission trips.

More mission opportunities followed. Each time Knapp has cherished his time ministering to people who need to see God's love in action.

"What I love about being on God's agenda is that I get to live above the noise," he says. "I can turn off the corporate and just focus on the spiritual. It's refreshing and beautiful."

It's ironic, but Knapp discovered, "When I left my comfort zone, I stepped into the place I am most comfortable," he says with a laugh. He found where he most loves to be.

For Knapp, being a faithful steward with his finances is good, but he sees God using him best outside the church building, serving others.

Polly House,  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.

Reprinted with permission from Interpreter Magazine, online, July/Aug 2014