By Randy Bowman, Conference Treasurer

Why should we give?

There are many reasons that come to my mind, but first and foremost always seems to be gratitude for all that He has given us. As one small personal example, I think back 17 years ago to the time when I decided it was time to look for a more fulfilling and compassion-filled job. After agonizing for years about whether or not I should do that, the very day I finally opened the want ads in the paper (because that’s how you looked for a job back in 2000!), there was an ad for a controller for the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. And I was welcomed into a family that has been tremendously supportive and a job that has been unbelievably rewarding.

But why did I choose that day to finally look for a new job, when that happened to be the only weekend that the Conference ran their want ad? I can only conclude that God was taking caring of me even when I didn’t necessarily know that I needed to be taken care of. When God has given me all of this care, how can I not thank Him for these blessings and give back to Him out of the abundance He has provided me? When God has given all of us the living water to sustain us on our journey of life, how can we not give back to Him in gratitude?

I understand that we have experienced some wildly fluctuating economic times over the past decade. Volatility in the stock market and tremendous political uncertainty are testaments to that fact. Today, some of us may not be in the same position to give that we once were. Others of us are fearful of what the uncertain future may bring and feel like we need to hang on to what we have in case tomorrow is the proverbial rainy day. I can only encourage us all to work as much as we can away from the theology of scarcity that fear represents. And let’s try to move more towards a life of abundance based on a trust in God.

Now I’m not saying that we don’t need to be realistic. Some of us are going to be in a better position to give than others right now. But compared to the vast majority of the world, we all have more than enough. We can probably all make a few small choices about how we spend our money that would better reflect our priorities. I am reminded of that familiar verse from Mathew 6:21:

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Note that it doesn’t say where your heart is, there your treasure will be also. It doesn’t say that we give to things we are passionate about.  It says that what we give to, we become passionate about. We need to make giving to God a discipline that we work at over and over again. We need to give to God so that we can become even more passionate about God.

We are grateful to all of you for giving out of gratitude to God and supporting our connectional ministries through your faithful and generous apportionment contributions.

Now, for those who want numbers, our year-to-date apportionment contributions through April are shown in the following graph:

For the first 4 months of 2017, our churches contributed 26.5% of their apportionments. As you can see from the detailed report, this was 0.3% below both last year and our average apportionment contributions through April for the last ten years. At this rate, we project an overall year-end apportionment contribution percentage of 84%-87%.

Remember that apportionments are a way to look beyond just ourselves. Please do all that you can to help our churches and our ministries continue to change lives by contributing to apportionments as fully as possible in the last 8 months of 2017.

Resources to help you succeed.

Are you looking for ways to incorporate stewardship principles and practices in your ministry with children, youth, and adults? Rosanna Anderson presents a curated collection of current resources to encourage generosity across the generations in this recording of this past summer’s webinar Stewardship Education: Learning to Live Generously. Discover tools to help your church draw closer together to talk about shared values and be inspired to reach out to neighbors as disciples of Christ. Check out the recording of her webinar here.

Find the most recent Desert Southwest Conference Apportionments report through April 2017 at https://dscumc.org/apportionments.

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