Part of our life of faith together is cultivating a joyful generosity. Yes, I am specifically talking about financial generosity. An essential expression of our gratitude is our willingness to generously support the mission and ministries of the church. It is through the church that God has chosen to transform the world with the Good News of Jesus. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8):
The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
Financial generosity is not only necessary to continue the work of the church… its good for us personally:
- Giving money to someone else makes people happier than spending on themselves. Giving to charity excites parts of our brain associated with feelings of pleasure, social connection, and trust.
- Giving contributes to better health. People who volunteer, serve, and provide emotional support to others reap health benefits such as lower stress levels and blood pressure.
- Giving increases our chances of health, wealth, and happiness because it builds broader social connections, greater trust, and more positive relationships which are likely to reward us.
- Finally, ‘pay it forward’ really works! When we give we encourage others to give as well. This causes a ripple effect in our communities and beyond really making the world a better place.
(From the University of California at Berkeley, December 13, 2010 by Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you)
Even with all the statistics about the personal and social benefits of generosity, still one of the most negative yet popular criticisms of the church in our day is that: ‘The church is too concerned with money”. Yes, the church needs financial support, but we are far more interested in partnering with people who share our faith in Jesus Christ and our mission to serve the world in faith, hope, and love.
Anyone, at any time, can support our church with their time, their talents, their financial gifts, and their prayers. We understand that someone’s ability to financially support the church and/or their time available to volunteer may change. But, the following outline sets some general expectations for giving and serving at St. Andrew UMC.
Visitors: Visitors are with us for the first time through the first 3 months. Regardless of how long (or short) a time one has been a Christian, we all start as visitors. Visitors are learning about who we are, what we do, and where they fit into our family. Our mission and ministries serve our visitors, so we do not expect visitors to give financially or volunteer. Visitors should attend, get involved, and grow in faith, hope, and love! If you feel moved to give or volunteer please do so, but it is NOT expected.
Guests: Guests are with us from 4 to 8 months. Guests are in the process of growing in their faith and building relationships in our church family. Guests are discovering and exploring all that we have to offer as a church family and how our mission and ministries are serving the world. It is appropriate for guests to ‘give as they go’ and contribute when they attend, $10 -$20 is a good suggested weekly contribution to start. Guests are encouraged to join us as volunteers for specific short-term projects and events. This provides a short-term opportunity to work side by side with our church without the long-term commitment of leading or supporting an ongoing mission or ministry over the course of a year.
Partners & Members: At St. Andrew UMC there is NO practical difference between ‘partner’ and ‘member’ in terms of expectations. Both have been involved in the church for at least 9 months and are committed to being involved consistently in the worship, mission, and ministries of the church. A member has made a public commitment to this for the official church record, an active partner has not yet made this public commitment. It is appropriate for both partners and members to support the church both financially and with volunteer service. Based upon the average giving of our partners and members $35 -$100 is a good suggested weekly contribution for EVERY week of the year (under normal family financial conditions and depending on your level of income). Partners and members are the backbone of the church family and, as such, are expected to volunteer not only for specific short-term projects and events but also commit to long-term leading and supporting the ongoing mission and ministries of the church. Based upon the average commitment of our partners and members to lead and support our missions and ministries 2-4 hours a week is a good suggested place to start.
May you experience the joy of giving thanks by giving generously this week and throughout the year!