As the parent of three – and soon to be four – young children, I can attest that there is no shortage of children's books declaring the virtues of generosity. From a young age, award-winning books ranging from Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree to Marcus Pfister's The Rainbow Fish abound to share why, paraphrasing the familiar Bible verse in Acts 20:35, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
The message of generosity isn't only for children. It's a lifelong message. The Bible is filled with dozens of passages about generosity, nuggets of wisdom for all ages. "Give, and it will be given to you" (Luke 6:38); "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord (Proverbs 19:17a)"; "…for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7b)"; "You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way" (2 Corinthians 9:11a).
The essence of United Methodist connectionalism is based on the idea that together we can do so much more than we can do alone. Every United Methodist congregation is connected throughout the denomination through a unique, interlocking chain of conferences. United Methodist churches share their resources, both financial and human, to support ministries beyond the local congregation. It is this common mission and shared governance that result in United Methodists' collective impact for the Kingdom of God.
You can read more about how United Methodists share the gospel and impact the world in future stories about the many ways that the 12.4 million members of the denomination give generously to transform people through education, advocacy, ecumenical ministries, disaster relief and other outreach.
United Methodists, according to statistics from the General Council on Finance and Administration, gave more than $135 million to support various ministries of the church in 2014. More than $373 million benefited benevolent causes, such as soup kitchens, clothing drives and non-United Methodist benevolent causes. When disaster hit, United Methodists contributed $28 million for disaster response locally and internationally. [Source: "State of the Church Report," Interpreter, January-February 2015)
In a word, the people of The United Methodist Church are givers. The single generous action, repeated over and over, by United Methodists in more than 135 countries enables The United Methodist Church to provide ministries and services that advance our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Because, together, we know that we are more blessed to give than to receive.
Dan Krause, general secretary of United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tennessee
This article first appeared in the July/August Interpreter magazine. Reprinted with permission.
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 giving click here.