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Giving time and service

Isabella Tinte is a young adult United Methodist. She actively serves her congregation – in large part because of what she experienced as a child and teen.

"Growing up in the church, I've always been surrounded with so many 'ates' and 'kuyas' (older sisters and brothers)," Tinte says.

"They were my teachers at VBS. They were members of the praise and worship band. They were my leaders at Christmas Institute, a winter camp for young people where they can grow spiritually and develop leadership skills. They came to serve as my role models in life whether they realize it or not."

They are much of the reason she now serves as a member at Beacon United Methodist Church in Seattle.

"Their constant presence and service in church leadership inspired me to follow their footsteps and become a role model for the next generation of youth. Today, I find myself leading worship, teaching the children at VBS and training to be a leader at Christmas Institute. I believe that leading by example – through our actions – is how we leave our mark on the world and how we can inspire others to continue the faith."

The Rev. Ricky Duncan (right) of Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church and parishioner Randall Lester help remove flood debris from the home of a neighbor in Alderson, W.Va.

When asked to serve on a church committee, volunteer for an event or lead a mission opportunity, how likely are we to say "yes" to these opportunities? Do we view the giving of our time and talents through the church as opportunities to live out our discipleship? Are these times to make real our membership vows and our understanding of who we are in relationship to God, to one another and to the world?

Whether you live at a frenetic pace, overextending yourself to the point of exhaustion, or the type who is most comfortable budgeting your time, one thing is certain: As Christians, we are called to be good stewards, balancing the resources given to us by God.

"A life of discipleship requires all three things – time, talent, treasure," says Kelly West Figueroa-Ray, a United Methodist doctoral candidate in religious studies at the University of Virginia. "Devoting these to the church is part of a full life of discipleship. Discipleship is not a hobby, but a way of life."

Many people say they want to make the world a better place today and for future generations. They live out that desire by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, supporting GoFundMe projects or providing scholarships for young people to go to church camps and leadership events – and by serving through the congregations of which they are part. The call to serve Christ as a member of the church carries with it commitments lived out by serving God and neighbor.

Generosity, Missouri Bishop Robert Schnase says, is an aspect of character, extending beyond the act of giving financially. It is not a spiritual attribute someone acquires apart from the actual practice of giving. It becomes discernable through action.

As leaders inspire more and more of their congregation to give of their time and talents, they will see disciples being made, the world being transformed – more and more young people like  Isabella Tinte  following their example.

Sophia Agtarap, media consultant and freelance writer living in Nashville, Tennessee.

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.

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