A Moment for Mission
“But the Lord said to Samuel, … ‘God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart.’” — 1 Samuel 16:7, CEB
One of my favorite Bible stories is found in Mark 12:41-44, CEB: “Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury. All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live on.’”
Here was a woman who placed God first in her life. Often, it seems, we forget to give from our abundance. We look at our bank account and start tallying expenditures. Housing, utilities, food, transportation. Somewhere on that list, we might add “church.” Or we might not.
The Bible encourages tithing 10 percent of our income. If that sounds like an unreachable goal, consider what you already give to the church. If it’s 3 percent of your income, try increasing it to 4 percent. Keep adding incrementally until you reach 10 percent.
Most people don’t give everything they have to the church, but you can make stewardship a central discipline in your spiritual life. Live out your faith. You’ll begin to understand the saying, “Giving is an act of worship.”
Loving God, sharing from our abundance isn’t easy. Show us new ways to live out our faith. Give us generous hearts. Make our giving an act of worship. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Third Sunday after Pentecost — Lord of all bounty and blessing, the gifts we offer to you are like seeds. Some will take root nearby, and we will see them grow and bear fruit. Some will be carried far beyond where we can see, and we have faith that they will find good soil and thrive. We thank you for the privilege of being called to sow. Bless with the joy of good fruit the seed we will see and the seed we will never see. We pray this in the loving name of Jesus, gardener and savior. Amen. (Mark 4:26-34)
How can you encourage giving in your congregation? Here are six easy ideas:
- Read what the Bible says about giving and stewardship. Consult a concordance and discover a wealth of Scriptures about sharing your wealth! You may be amazed at what you find.
- Choose hymns that focus on God’s faith, giving and receiving. Don’t stop with the Thanksgiving favorite, “We Gather Together” (The United Methodist Hymnal, no. 131). Branch out to include newer hymns like “The Gift of Love” (UMH, 408).
- Model and encourage generous giving. Each week, before the offering is collected, ask members to present mission moments about why they give, how they started tithing and so forth.
- If your congregation supports community ministries, invite a representative to preach about the agency’s mission.
- If your congregation supports a United Methodist missionary, invite that person to visit the church and tell about his or her work.
- Offer in-person or online money-management and financial planning workshops.
Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, retired from UMCom