Communications Workshop Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Foundation invites you to attend our 2018 Communications Workshop with Mr. Scott Vaughan Tuesday, October 30 at 10:00 a.m. Participants in the 2017 event gave it stellar reviews.

The day will include information on managing and budgeting for today’s communication, prayer, planning and promotion, Facebook’s changing formulas and an update hospitality ministry presentation.

You do not want to miss this exciting opportunity. You can learn more about Scott at http://www.svministry.com/.

We will be meeting at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church on Old Canton Road in order to accommodate up to 100 participants. Last year’s event filled up quickly, so go to http://ms-umf.org/events/ for more information and registration.

The cost for the day is only $10, which includes snacks and lunch. The Center for Ministry has approved it for clergy to receive ½ CEU credit.


You Are Invited

The Foundation invites you to attend our 2018 Communications Workshop with Mr. Scott Vaughan Tuesday, October 30 at 10:00 a.m. Some sample responses to our 2017 event with Scott:

“Best continuing education event I have attended.”

“Great workshop. Material was presented in simple and easy to understand manner.”

“How much experience, thought and spirit Scott Vaughan brings to this topic.”

“Scott was fantastic, and this was such timely material.”

You do not want to miss this exciting opportunity. You can learn more about Scott at http://www.svministry.com/.

The day will include information on managing and budgeting for today’s communication, prayer, planning and promotion, Facebook’s changing formulas and an update hospitality ministry presentation. The cost for day is only $10, which includes snacks and lunch. Clergy are eligible to receive ½ CEU credit.

We will be meeting at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church on Old Canton Road in order to accommodate up to 100 participants. Last year’s event filled up quickly, so go to http://ms-umf.org/events/ for more information and registration.


Mission in an Age of Anxiety

The world of 24 hour news cycles have a way of ratcheting up our anxiety and making us fearful about the future.  News about the upcoming Called Session of General Conference in 2019 is definitely making United Methodists anxious.  It is so easy to allow our anxiety to lead us into a bunker mentality, where we essentially wait and do nothing.  I want to assure you that the Foundation is not hunkering down and hiding our talent in the ground.

The Foundation continues to conduct its mission of wisely investing funds entrusted to us for the sake of the church’s mission. We continue to provide scholarships because of generous donors creating endowments. The Foundation still provides resources for clergy and other leaders in the area of generosity. We are sponsoring a Communication Workshop once again in October. We have a received a Lilly Grant to encourage clergy to explore their financial reality and future. And the Foundation assists newly commissioned clergy in personal and church finance awareness.

After all, it is not about us or the institution called the United Methodist Church. What we do is all about connecting persons to a loving God made known to us in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is that mission that continues to drive us at your Mississippi United Methodist Foundation.


Elder Financial Abuse

Bernice Napach, a senior writer at ThinkAdvisor, recently wrote about “How Seniors and Their Adult Children Can Prevent Elder Financial Abuse.”   She writes that it is estimated that one in five seniors are a victim of financial abuse of about $37 billion a year.  But, most senior adults have not talked with their children about how they manage their resources.  ‘When you don’t have the conversation, seniors are more vulnerable,’ said Desari Mueller, a consultant for Wells Fargo Advisors.

Most seniors and their children believe that a stranger will take advantage of an elder. The sad truth is that two-thirds is by family, friends or trusted contacts according to a Jewish Council for the Aging study.

Wells Fargo Media suggests eight items seniors should complete for their later years:

  1. Organize documents and passwords
  2. Discuss with the family who will manage affairs
  3. Discuss inheritance plans with family
  4. Have a will
  5. Have an advance health care directive
  6. Have a power of attorney for health care
  7. Have a power of attorney for financial matters
  8. Tell the family how much money there is

A further set of protections:

  1. Direct deposit so others can’t cash checks
  2. Annual credit report checks
  3. Automatic bill pay so other aren’t writing checks
  4. Refuse to sign documents unless others have reviewed them
  5. “Trusted Contact” on file at financial firm/bank
  6. Checks or credit cards locked in cabinets
  7. Alerts of large transactions sent to others
  8. Copies of financial statements sent to others

The local church is positioned help seniors be good stewards of their resources and prevent elder financial abuse. Now is a good time to plan an awareness event for seniors and their families.


Money Study

The best recommendation I have for discussing money and possessions is Simple Rules for Money by James Harnish. It is based on Wesley’s instructions on earning, saving and giving money.  The book is readable, has only four chapters and comes with discussion helps at the end.  If you want to do more, you can purchase all kinds of materials under the title of Earn. Save. Give. by Harnish from Cokesbury.

All the resources available on money and possessions are worthless, if they are never used. If we really want folks to model God’s generosity, it will take time and effort.  The advertising industry is bombarding us with its message of spend, spend and spend some more every day.  And our peers are often modeling spend, spend and spend some more.  It is not easy to live a counter-culture lifestyle when it comes to money and possessions.

I encourage you to make plans today to begin a study or discussions clearly connecting money and faith.


Money and Faith

Richard Rohr, from The Center for Action and Contemplation, shared last week about the power of money.  Rohr refers to Lynne Twist’s book, The Soul of Money.  She states that we have made money more important than humans. We have even given money more meaning than human life.

Rohr writes that we often find our behavior around money at odds with our deeply held values and ideals.  He goes on to say that he truly believes that we really long for the well-being of the people we love, ourselves and the world. The problem is that money often takes over our best selves.

We become willing to sacrifice our health, our relationships, our world and so much more for the sake of money.  No wonder Jesus talked about money and possessions over and over.  Jesus calls us to love God and love one another. And he warns against loving money.  How easy it becomes to confuse what is eternal with something as temporary as money.

This is why we need to help our folks with the discussion of money, when we are not asking them for money. Preaching and teaching on money and possessions does not always need to end with an ask.


Happy Fourth of July!

It is great to have an opportunity to celebrate the best that the United States offers to its citizens and to the world.  This year, we pause mid-week for the celebration, which in a way is a mid-year pause as well. Six months of 2018 have come and gone.

This a great week to look back over your personal and church plans for 2018 and see where you are.  It is especially important to review finances. How are you doing with paying down debt or creating an emergency fund for your household?  Pastors and Finance Committees need to take a good look at numbers for the first six months of the year in comparison to numbers from 2016 and 2017. Are they up, down or about the same?

There are still six months left in the year to get the finance numbers where you want them to be. And there is plenty of time to plan for growth in generosity this year and in 2019. Generosity in a church is not going to grow without a plan and execution of the plan. Inertia will always win.

Praying you will discover the joy of greater generosity.


2017 Charitable Giving Numbers

The latest report from Giving USA is out. The numbers from 2017 report a record high of $410.02 billion given to charitable causes. Religion still receives the largest share at 31% of all gifts, but the number is well below what it was 20 years ago.  And religious giving continues to shrink as a percentage of income. The reality is that as the Builder/Greatest Generation fades away, their giving goes away. And new givers are not making up the difference.

70% of all giving is still done by individuals. And the vast majority of that is done by ordinary folks. There are mega-gifts being made by the Gates and Buffets of the world, but these generally come from their charitable foundations. This tells me that people have money to give, but they are choosing to give in many places besides religious organizations.

Folks, we cannot keep kicking financial support for the mission and ministry of the church to the bottom of our concerns. Our local churches and conference will not last long without strong financial support.  And it will not happen without clergy and lay leadership ensuring that generosity is always integrated with any teaching on discipleship.


Have a Plan

Good Sense Movement recently sent me a newsletter about better stewardship. The newsletter noted, “If you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit it.” That is true in many things including work in stewardship and generosity.  Nothing will be achieved without a goal in mind.  Michael Hyatt offered a couple of suggestions about goals in the newsletter.

The very first suggestion is to be specific.  For instance, teaching the congregation about generosity is too general.  A better goal is, “Offer three classes on generosity in Sunday School or small groups.” This tells the reader what and how.

The second suggestion is to have a measureable goal.  It will be easy to measure how many people attended a class or small group on generosity.  “Develop generosity leaders” is very difficult to measure.  Stating, “We will train three to five coaches in generosity” works.

Now is the time to begin this conversation with your Finance Committee or Generosity Team.  Nothing will happen, if nothing is planned. We are almost half-way through 2018.


Your Investors

Horizons Stewardship published an article by Mick Tune last month about investors.  He begins, “Think of me as a potential venture capitalist for your organization, or as a mission capitalist for your vision. I am not looking to make money back, but I am looking for a real return on my investment. I love my church and all, but you are not the only Godly gig around.”

 

What vision/mission is your church or ministry proposing for funding from potential investors?  By potential investors, I am referring to persons who put money in the offering plate every Sunday or send money to you monthly or quarterly.  How are you telling your story of making a difference in your community? Investors are looking for a return on investment. In ministry, the only return is changed lives.

 

Investors have many choices, when it comes to where their money goes. The church and ministry organizations can no longer just sit around and expect people to give. Our message and invitation to invest must be clear and compelling.