First Quarter Review

Numbers for the first quarter of 2018 should be ready for your finance committee and generosity team to review. What trends are evident compared to the previous two to three years? Is giving stable, rising or declining? What do you see about expenses?  The numbers should guide next steps.

Falling revenue with stable expenses might indicate the need to develop a better generosity plan beginning immediately. Falling revenue and rising expenses is a call for immediate generosity work and expense control. Rising revenue and stable expenses might be a call to expand mission and ministry. Rising revenue and rising expenses probably indicate an effective mission that invites generosity.

Yes, the finance committee is responsible for expenditures, but it also responsible for raising adequate funds.  Now is the time to explore the numbers and respond. Waiting and watching is only avoiding reality.

The Dickson Order

I had the honor of recognizing the Rev. L. A. Cumberland and Mrs. Mary Alice Cumberland as the newest members of the Dickson Order of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church. The presentation was made at Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, where Rev. Cumberland served in retirement until his death in 2001.  Mrs. Cumberland was present in the service along with her children.


The recipients receive a plaque and their engraved image and names are placed on a board displayed in the headquarters of the Annual Conference. Individuals, churches or groups may honor a clergy or layperson by donating at least $1,000 to the Dickson Order Fund. The fund’s proceeds are used for seminary scholarships.

Creating a Culture of Generosity offered by The Mississippi United Methodist Foundation

Creating a Culture of Generosity is an experience for churches of the Mississippi Conference designed to develop a lasting culture of generosity.  All of the required tasks are easily scaled to fit a variety of congregation sizes.  The selection of optional tasks make it easy for those just getting started with a comprehensive plan for generosity.

The experience comes with a $500 grant from the Foundation to cover expenses incurred by the congregation. The Foundation also provides the required reading for the experience.  Satisfactory completion of the experience within 12 months allows the church to apply to another year with some additional tasks and another grant.

Give us a call or send an email to request your complete resource guide.  The Foundation promises to walk with you throughout the journey.  We believe that God calls each of us to be generous with all that God has entrusted to us.

Find more information here:

Fellowship In Christian Stewardship

The Foundation has partnered with the Rev. Kurt Appel’s “Fellowship In Christian Stewardship” ministry for the past two years. The ministry assists churches in executing an excellent pledge campaign for the annual operating budget. Kurt’s work with ten pilot churches has resulted in over $800,000 in new giving. This includes a total of 226 households with no previous giving record making commitments in 8 of 10 churches.

The plan does require work on the part of the church staff and leadership. Kurt guides the work and offers excellent resources, but the leaders of the church must be actively engaged in the process.  The current formula is best suited for congregations averaging over 125 in worship.

If you would like to know more, please contact the Rev. Dr. Kurt Appel by calling 228-342-0777.

People of Faith Do Not Automatically Give

Many leaders in churches are Boomers, who think about giving to the church in the world of the Builder Generation. The Builders are more faithful in attending and in giving to the institutional church. The Builders generally did not need encouragement to give. But the Builders are disappearing from our churches because of death. And Boomers have not really learned or taught their generations and others about the spiritual discipline of giving. Thom Rainer had some reflections on this recently.

Rainer reminds us that Boomers and Gen X have high incomes, but do not give consistently or generously to the church. Millennials give, but they do not have the financial resources to give large amounts. The problem is that Builders are being replaced with Millennials. So the shift is from more generous to less generous givers. And there is more.

Millennials are more inclined to give to purposes rather than organizations. Churches must demonstrate how the funds are going to be used for a meaningful purpose. It is not enough to say, “Give to the church.” It needs to become give to the church so that we can continue to feed the hungry on Sunday afternoon, etc.

Folks, if we really expect our churches to be effective expressions of God’s Kingdom, it will require us to teach biblical generosity. It is not going to happen, if we do not engage in the process. Sitting around on our hands is not going to get it done.


He is Risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Opportunity to Give

Easter is quickly approaching. This is an excellent time to receive a special Easter Offering. The use of the funds will depend upon your financial circumstances and goals for ministry. You may wish to simply invite people to make a gift for Easter. The money would then be available for the most pressing financial need. Or you may wish to connect the offering to a special church project.

The special project may be updating a part of the building, children’s ministry, youth ministry or senior adult ministry. It may be time for new stoles for the choir or new choir robes. Maybe you need some new paraments or offering plates.  It might be that you wish to support a mission group or Advance Special. I think you get the idea.

Be sure to have a special envelope for folks to use for the offering. People, who wish to give will give. But if you do not ask, no one will give.

Lenten Disciplines

One of the most talked about disciplines for Lent is that of fasting. People often choose to give up sweets, chocolate, soft drinks, etc. I suggest that we might also want to think about a fast from stuff for a portion of Lent.

In The 7 Experiment, staging your own mutiny against excess, Jen Hatmaker addresses possessions.  She specifically invites the reader to think about a couple of questions:
“How can you cultivate a sense of God’s presence in your home?”
“What can you do differently to be sure possessions don’t steer your heart?”

Hatmaker suggests the reader find a way to give away at least 7 things a day for seven days as a sign of freedom from possessions. The seven for one day may be items from one room or the whole house.  The seven could be kitchen items, home accessories, furniture or linens.  Clothes are a great way to produce seven items.

The whole idea is to realize that we do have a lot of stuff and that stuff does not equal worth and value.

The Deadline for Scholarship Applications Is April 2, 2018

The Mississippi United Methodist Foundation reminds you that we have moved up the scholarship application deadline. The move was made in order to assist students in making decisions about school choices. The applications are due April 2, 2018 and award letters will be sent the first week of May.

Applications may be found on our website under download forms. Or you may call or email the Foundation to request an application. Please note that non-seminary students may only apply for up to four awards. Seminary students may apply for an additional three awards.

Students must be active in United Methodist Church in the Mississippi Annual Conference. This is certified by the pastor’s signature on the application form.

We are once again partnering with the Wood College Foundation in awarding twenty-five $1,000 scholarships for undergraduate students. Other Foundation scholarships range from $200 to $700 per year. Seminary scholarships may be higher.

Generosity Begins with Beginning

As a pastor I heard many people over the years say, “When I am in a better financial place in life, I will begin to tithe.”  What they were really saying is that they will begin to give. Tithing is generally considered to be 10% of one’s income. These folks usually were giving nothing or less than $200 per year.  The problem is that these folks never seem to reach some kind of financial mark in life to begin generosity. So many people make the mistake of equating generosity with the level of one’s financial resources.

Many believe they will give more when they have more. The problem is that a failure to be generous with a small income will never result in becoming generous with a larger income. Generosity is about making a conscious decision through the power of the Holy Spirit to give freely and sacrificially of one’s financial resources. It is not about the level of one’s financial resources. Generosity is about being generous.

Generosity really does begin with being generous.