To: Congregation, NUMC
From: Chris J. Beam, Finance Team Leader
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Ah, there’s nothing like a good sports cliché; the “seventh inning stretch”, and the “4th quarter is ours” are two of my favorites. Well, in the life of the NUMC Spending Plan, we’re there – the 4th quarter, the seventh inning. I recently asked Pam to add to the bulletin information to show you where we should be relative to where we are regarding your gifts and offerings. I’m glad to say that as a body, we’re “catching up”. As I noted in July, we tend to get behind during the hustle and bustle of summertime, and it appears that as faithful stewards, we’re now responding as we’re lead to fulfill our heart’s commitment. We’re not there yet, but I’m delighted with your continued commitment.
Rev. Alan just preached a series on discipleship – what it means to be a good disciple. Disciples love one another, are willing to take up their cross, abide in the word, and bear fruit. The last sermon, “Disciples Bear Fruit”, is still fresh in my mind. “Fruit is the result of life, the by-product of our lives.” As I thought about fruitful living and did some reading online, I came across the website of Bishop Robert Schnase, the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church. He’s actually written a program of study on “The Five Practices of Fruitful Living”. One of the five practices is “Extravagant Generosity”.
Extravagant Generosity is essentially a creative approach to giving through and by the church. However, it’s more than the funding of ministry and mission, as essential as that is. The objective of Extravagant Generosity is to, over time, change the culture in a church from “fund raising” to generosity as a core value of discipleship. The careful use of the word generosity is part of the change in communication. The traditional term used in our approach to finances in the church is stewardship. While I believe we are all called to be good and faithful stewards, the term stewardship can also carry some negative connotations for some members. The practice of generosity, on the other hand, describes a Christian’s unselfish willingness to give in order to make a positive difference for the purposes of Christ.
Congregations that practice Extravagant Generosity provide ministries that address our spiritual need to give in ways that exceed all expectations and extend to unexpected measures. Fruitful congregations thrive because of extraordinary sharing, willing sacrifice, and joyous giving out of love for God and neighbor.
As you consider your personal reasons for your continued commitment to NUMC, think about the mission and ministries of our church. This is what the church is all about. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the daily tasks that need doing in order to maintain the church. The nature of the Finance Committee, the Staff Parish Relations Committee, and the Trustees is such that we develop a host of administrative, pastoral, program, and physical needs that can easily disperse our attention from the primary focus – inspired worship services, building relationships that bind us together, and connecting with people in the community and the world. The mission and ministry of the church is not an incidental, but the fruit that we bear for God.
As we close-out the Spending Plan for 2011, I pray your heartfelt generosity will well within you as you experience God’s extravagant generosity in your own lives.
Thank you for your continued prayers, presence, GIFTS, service and witness for Christ Jesus.