Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Sing to God a thanksgiving hymn, play music on your instruments to God, Who fills the sky with clouds, preparing rain for the earth, Then turning the mountains green with grass, feeding both cattle and crows.  Psalm 147:7-9  The Message (MSG)

Your Foundation staff thanks you for allowing us to partner with you in making disciples of Jesus Christ. Your investment in the Foundation allows us to work with newly commissioned clergy, create cultures of generosity in congregations, and bring fresh ideas to spiritual leaders. Endowments created by you fund over 100 scholarships for college and seminary students from Mississippi United Methodist Churches.

You make a difference! So we give thanks to God, who provides the resources for making disciples. May you be blessed this Thanksgiving.


Special Offerings

Special Offerings

 

Thanksgiving is almost here with Advent and Christmas arriving soon. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of receiving a special offering for these days and seasons.  People have a strong desire to give in November and December. The vast majority of folks are not going to take money out of their regular giving for a special offering. Most will give additional funds as they are able. But they will not give, if they are not given the opportunity.

 

Yes, you are correct about everybody asking for money this time of year. That is because everyone knows that people are more receptive to an invitation to give during the Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas Seasons. Do not use the excuse that the church should not be on the list of inviting folks to give because everyone else is asking. Be prepared to invite your folks to give to a special need in the church or budget needs.

 

Do not guilt them into giving, nor talk about how much the church needs the money. Rather, focus on the giver’s need to give in response to God’s generosity and love.  Use specific envelopes or other tools for folks to respond. Just give people the opportunity and allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest.


#GivingTuesday Is November 28

Giving Tuesday is a wonderful opportunity to encourage persons in your circle of influence to give to a United Methodist cause through the Advance. You do not even need to mention the Advance, but simply share the project and how to give.

 

Giving Tuesday is a global movement designed to balance the spending of Black Friday and Cyber Monday with charitable giving. It is an excellent opportunity for the church to help focus that giving through the Advance. All kinds of ideas and support can be found at www.umcgivingtuesday.org. Choose a project you wish to support and invite your friends to give.  You can even invite giving by using your social media platforms with hashtag, #GivingTuesday.

 

The UMC Giving Tuesday site suggests taking a “selfless selfie” by holding up a sign with a UMC #GivingTuesday graphic. You write, “Please join me in supporting _____________. You can even list the number of an Advance project along with how to give. It means that you need to look at the Advance website and pick a project that inspires you. Then let #GivingTuesday assist you in raising funds.

 

If you are looking for End of the Year Giving templates, you can find them on our website: www.ms-umf.org. Look for the resource tab under services.


For All the Saints

For All the Saints

 

Today, November 1, is All Saints Day. This is day to honor those who have gone before us in the faith. I realize that most congregations will celebrate this day Sunday, November 5. What a special time to give thanks to God for the lives of our brothers and sisters in the faith, who now rest from their labors. We give thanks to God for the sacrifices these men and women made to establish and support our congregations.

 

We often find ourselves taking for granted the very places where we gather for worship. We neglect the people, who had a vision to create a community of faith, and then gave of themselves to make it happen. These saints gave generously for the sake of the kingdom of God.

 

The founding generations of our churches reached out into their communities to invite and disciple new believers. These saints were willing to engage new methods to reach new people in their day and time. Founding generations gave their time and resources to support pastoral leadership and construct places of worship. Founding generations lived out their faith in such a way that it made a lasting impact in their communities. Now it is our moment as the saints of the church to model generosity and faith for new generations.

 

How are we reaching out into our communities to invite and develop new disciples? What is the measure of our generosity?


Holy Day Offerings

Holy Day Offerings

 

Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas are quickly approaching. Now is the best time to think about special offerings for these days and seasons. The Sunday before Thanksgiving will be a perfect time to receive a special offering expressing gratitude for all that God has done for us. It will require advertising the offering for two to three weeks before receiving the special gifts. A set of Thanksgiving offering envelopes mailed to the congregation or available in the sanctuary is helpful.

 

You will need to decide about the purpose of the offering. Will it be used for budget needs, a special need in the congregation, mission shares or projects in the community? If you need money for operating expenses, do not feel guilty about the offering simply going to the general account. Emphasize the opportunity for people to express their gratitude to God for all the wonderful blessings of life. Do not talk about how the church needs the money. If the offering is for a special need, lift that up to the congregation.

 

The same process can be used for Advent or Christmas. There are several calendars for Advent that invite persons to set aside an amount of money daily. Coin folders are great for children, but not for adults. You may purchase offering boxes or create your own for the offering. Or you may focus on bringing an offering for the Christ Child at Christmas Eve or the Christmas Sunday Service.

 

Folks, leaders of the church do not need to protect their members’ pocketbooks. They will do that on their own. Special offerings are a way to allow persons to express their faith during special seasons and days of the year.


Use the Map

Use the Map

 

My wife and I were recently at a meeting in Philadelphia, PA. Our hotel was right across the street from the Philadelphia City Hall with a statue of William Penn on top. But without a map I did not know where city hall was in relation to the rest of the city, and I certainly had no idea how to find the Liberty Bell. The problem was solved with a simple map of the city. Once we knew where we were in the city, we could plot a course to the Liberty Bell and other sites. The same approach works for church financial planning.

 

Three quarters of the year has come and gone, so now is a good time to see where you are financially. Look over the receipts to date in light of the past two to three years. Then look at expenditures to date in light of the past two to three years. This will give you a good sense of where you are. The next step is to find where you want to be financially.

 

Does year end need to see an increase in giving or spending? Does the end of the year look like familiar compared to past years? Maybe it is time to find a totally new destination. This might be the year to finally break through to a new level of giving. What route will you need to plan to get there? You may wish to look beyond the close of this fiscal year to next year’s destination.

 

The current numbers within the context of recent years will give you a good sense of where you are. Now, the question is, “Where do you want to be and how will you plan to get there?”

 


Giving Tuesday, November 28

Giving Tuesday Is Coming November 28

Giving Tuesday is now entering its sixth year. It was created as a day to give to non-profits in the midst of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. It provides a perfect time for churches to lift up the work of the United Methodist Church throughout the world through the Advance.

The Advance is the mission arm of the church that encourages additional giving to missions. If you can think of a project, you will probably find it at www.advancinghope.org. Click through to mission giving. By making a gift through the Advance, 100% of the funds go to the chosen project. This may be done by churches, Sunday School Classes, or individuals. Last year more than 2,550 persons in 19 countries contributed a total of $853,909.78 to United Methodist mission projects and missionary support through the 2016 UMC #GivingTuesday campaign.

I know that many people focus on giving to children at this time of year. That are numerous projects that directly impact children living in poverty in other parts of the world. You can be a part of providing school uniforms, additional nutrition and a Christmas program. The list goes on and on.

Go to www.umcmission.org/giving-tuesday for more information.

 


New Christians and Money

Bill Easum’s Advice about New Christians and Money

 

The Effective Church Group recently shared an article by Bill Easum regarding new believers and money. (www.effectivechurch.com)  Easum believes that moving new Christians to generosity does not begin with sermons but small group experiences. Easum states that a method of weaning people off of the culture of consumerism is necessary. The need is to teach folks how to live within their means. And this happens in small groups of new Christians and seasoned generous givers. It becomes a place to share and to learn.

 

The next step is concrete action by participants reducing debt and avoiding more debt. Then comes the time to share about Jesus and money. This will lead to a “standard of giving creating a standard of living” according to Easum.

 

I have witnessed giving going up, when credit cards and debt go down through “Financial Peace University.” We can preach about giving all we want, but it will not work without our folks learning new money habits.


Children and Giving

Children and Tithing

 

A recent Leading Ideas article from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership shared about teaching children to tithe. Dan Pezet writes that giving to God is a core value of our faith. I agree with him. Giving is at the heart of who we are as Christians. God lives out of generosity and invites us to live out of generosity as well. Our children will never learn this concept unless we teach it.

 

I remember our children making it very clear that toys belonged to them with a shouted, “Mine!” Only through encouragement and stern words would they freely offer to share a toy with brother, sister, or friend. We are not naturally generous. If we are not taught about generosity, we will never learn to be generous. As Christians we believe that the church and the home are to form us in faith and generosity.

 

Encouraging children to give to God a portion of their allowance is an excellent way to build generosity. It also requires parents to model generosity through their own behavior. It is not enough to tell our children to do something. It requires our children seeing us do the same. This also includes the rest of the congregation.

 

What is your congregation doing to model generosity? Do children have an opportunity to participate in the offering? Is the church providing teaching materials for the home related to generosity?


Reasons People Do Not Give

Some Reasons People Are Not Giving

 

Horizons Stewardship shared some of the following information written by Dustin Cooper. He suggests that there are four reasons why active church families fail to give. The first is personal debt. People just cannot give because they owe too much on student loans, mortgages and car payments. We need to begin offering personal financial resources such as Freed-Up Financial Living by goodsensemovement.org.

 

The second reason Cooper offers for persons failing to give is the power of the consumerist culture in which we live. We are convinced that stuff will bring joy and happiness. He suggests an answer is get persons involved in direct mission work. This adds balance to life.

 

Cooper suggests that a third reason people fail to give is fear. People worry about the future and its financial needs. Cooper calls upon pastors to preach a message of hope through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Finally, people fail to give because they have flawed perceptions. The non-givers believe that any sermon about money is about paying the church’s bills. And most believe finances are personal. These folks often see generosity sermons and plans as “beg-a-thons.” We need to shape the conversation around money at times, when we are not asking for money.

 

For more information go to: www.horizonsstewardship.com.