United Methodists are a generous people. In 2014, alone church members gave well over $500 million to denominational and church-related causes and in disaster relief and other designated giving.
The fact remains, however, that average church members in the United States give about two percent of their income to the church
"Together we do more" is what actually happens when United Methodists pool their gifts of money, time and talent to do mission and ministry.
"Together we do more" is also an online collection of resources from the connectional giving team at United Methodist Communications. Check out umcgiving.org/togetherwedomore for ideas and information for pastors and other church leaders can use to encourage generous living among their congregations.
"We have created these resources because we wanted to provide a comprehensive/holistic approach that pastors can use to encourage generosity," says Elsie Cunningham, director of connectional giving. "Pastors can use the generosity resources during their worship services or in small group settings."
The "UMC Year-End Giving Playbook" is among the new resources created for the online kit. Many pastors and leaders agree generosity and giving should be year-round topics. However, there are reasons to make a push for contributions in November and December. Among them are:
- Without an emphasis, opportunities to give to the church can get lost among many other appeals.
- The end of the tax year means contributions to your church can improve a taxable-income situation for givers. For many, this is a major giving incentive.
- Year-end bonuses or checks may be the bulk of income for the year.
- Many givers wait until the end of the year to tithe when final acknowledgements and accolades come from clients and employers.
- December is the largest giving month for most churches.
The Rev. Phyllis M. Bowers, executive director of The United Methodist Stewardship Foundation since 2005, wrote the forward to the playbook. She describes it as "a year-end giving blueprint to help you enter that crowded 'marketplace' (of year-end appeals) and communicate to your members in a way that is encouraging, exciting and a life changing, life-giving experience for all involved.
She says year-end campaigns provide opportunities:
- "to influence the consumerist impulses with a biblical, grace-based generosity message;
- "to communicate your vision for the year and to build momentum going into the new year;
- "to focus ministry efforts on felt needs" in the congregation, the local community and in connectional ministry."
The Social Media section features inspirational quotes to help engage congregants in generous living.
Downloadable bulletin inserts, mini-posters, podcasts and videos are for use in worship, with small groups and in other settings.
Worship resources include offering talk illustrations and slides, and sermon illustrations. These resources will help you share the good news of generosity.
There are also ideas and illustrations for children's sermons.
To learn lots more visit www.umcgiving.org/togetherwedomore.
UMC GIVING is the main connectional giving website which features information, stories, downloadable worship resources and other materials to promote each of the apportioned funds and the six special Sundays with offerings.
The Connectional Giving Online Course: "Missional Storytelling: Creating a Culture of Generosity" gives church leaders a holistic and biblical view of generosity. Find complete details of the free online course, which can be accessed at any time, at www.umcom.org/learn/connectional-giving.
Compiled by the Rev. Kathy Noble, editor, Interpreter and Interpreter Online.
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.