United Methodists give much. 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 now also an online collection of resources from the Connectional Giving team at United Methodist Communications. Check out umcgiving.org/togetherwedomore for ideas and information that 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."
New materials will be added on an on-going basis.
Year-end giving vital
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 one's 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, 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.
Among the downloadable e-books are the Apportioned Fund Resource Book with a large question-and-answer section, Five Most FAQ about Generosity and A Theology of UM Giving Apportionments.
"Simple Rules for Money" and "Generosity Series" are included in the list of generosity curricula. There are small-group studies and options for home study in conjunction with a sermon series.
Individuals or small groups can use podcasts and videos of sermons on generosity.
Compiled by the Rev. Kathy Noble, editor, Interpreter and Interpreter OnLine.
To learn lots more ...
"Together We Do More:" umcgiving.org/togetherwedomore
UMC GIVING: The main connectional giving website, www.umcgiving.org, features information, stories, downloadable worship resources and other materials to promote each of the apportioned funds and the six special Sundays with offerings.
Connectional Giving Online Course: "Missional Storytelling: Creating a Culture of Generosity" gives church leaders a holistic and biblical view of generosity. Access the free online course at any time at www.umcom.org/learn/connectional-giving.