Suggested Donation

Suggested Donation….

A few years ago, a week or two before Thanksgiving my husband went to Wal-Mart to buy his lunches for the week. While he was there he purchased a couple of turkeys, and left them with Care and Share as he left. I wasn’t there when he returned to work, but according to him, one of his coworkers response to his act of generosity was “Why in the world would you do something like that?”

I don’t think most people’s response to giving is so…well…ungenerous! But I do believe there is a culture of scarcity that drives people to accumulate more and downplays the importance of giving. When it comes to the church in particular, I hear comments like, “If the church isn’t here to give [to me], then what is it here for?”….”Why in the world would people give money to the church, it doesn’t need their money.”…”I think it’s crazy that people give to the church first, they should give what they have left over at the end of the month.”

And I have to admit, tithing is a very odd behavior indeed! It is directly contradictory to the wider culture of “more, more, more.” It never did make any sense to me why my grandmother went without food for one day every month to give the money she would have spent on food to the church, and that she would give money to the church while she herself was in need, was a continuous source of family tension.

That we give as an act of worship, acknowledging that God has already given us all we need; That we give because it changes our hearts, growing us into generous, giving, grateful people; That we give because we know that what we invest in grows and we want to Kingdom of God to grow…that we give to the church because it is who we are…took me a long time to understand.

So, in a staff meeting we were talking about wording for upcoming fundraisers and Kent suggested that we just say, “Suggested donation $5.” It is for church fundraising, and I believe the people who will read that will get it, in fact because we are talking about fundraising within a church, I am sure that many will give more than suggested, because they want to support this particular church program.  But what about my demographic? The people who didn’t grow up in or around church? Although, I am sure they would give the suggested donation for a product that they are purchasing, isn’t this an opportunity to tell people why we give? So, on the invitations for our event Stories @ The Edge, I put, “We believe what we invest in grows, so we believe in investing in good things. And we believe this is a good thing, so please consider paying for your meal.” It of course is not a huge thing, just reading this isn’t going to make the unchurched tithe, but hopefully, it does start to plant tiny seeds (maybe the size of mustard seeds?) to get people, both churched and unchurched, to think about why we give.

conversations with the boss

One of my favorite things about working at First United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs are my conversations with the boss, Rev. Kent Ingram. The place he calls church is the traditional downtown congregation.  And he leads us well: pastoring from the pulpit, [attempting] to manage staff (get us laughing and we quickly become a very unmanageable group!), and he spends his time “putting stuff back in the box.” On the other hand, I can’t define the place I call church as easily. The place I call church is on the edges of church and culture and in the people I meet there, in the magnificent mountains, and in the new community that FUMC is helping me build. I am creative, innovative, and [often unintentionally!] taking stuff out of boxes.

As different as we are, we are both deeply theological and reflective. We don’t just do what we do, we spend a lot of time understanding why we do what we do. And I love the conversations that we have. They are food for my soul. Sometimes it isn’t conversations we have, Kent just asks a question that makes me think. Other times he says something, he doesn’t know it, but I agree (or disagree as the case may be), and I wish we could pause life for a moment and talk about it.

Well, I love these conversations and thought that maybe others would like to eavesdrop into these conversations and maybe even join in. And Kent thought it was a cool idea too. So, I am going to invite you in to our conversation hopefully we all learn a little about the church and about one another. I hope to post something weekly starting next week!

Peace!

Tiffany

Tell us about: Sacraments in Ministry

¶324.9.p:  Explain the role and significance of the sacraments in the ministry to which you have been called.

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Tell us about: Being Christ’s Witness in the World

324.9.o:  You have agreed as a candidate for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world and the most effective witness to the gospel, and in consideration of their influence as ministers, to make a complete dedication of yourself to the highest ideals of the Christian life, and to this end agree to exercise responsible self-control by personal habits conducive to bodily health, mental and emotional maturity, integrity in all personal relationships, fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness, social responsibility, and growth in grace and the knowledge and love of God. What is your understanding of this agreement?

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Tell us about: Being Inclusive

You will find and introduction to my BOM theological paperwork here: Doctrinal Exam

 

¶324.9.n:  Describe your understanding of an inclusive church and ministry.

The world is constantly telling us we are not enough, we do not own the right shoes, or drive the right car; we do not have enough Facebook friends or Twitter followers. An inclusive church says the world is wrong.  As United Methodists, we invite all to the table because we know it is God’s table not ours. When I look someone in the eye, hand them a small bite of bread and say “The body of Christ given for you,” I am reminding them that they are already enough. They do not need better shoes or more Facebook friends; they are already a beloved child of God. When I hand someone a small cup of juice, and say “The blood of Christ given for you,” I am saying, “Someone loves you enough to die for you.” If our story tells us that Adam and Eve hid from God because they were afraid they were not good enough, then the inclusive church lives out of the belief that every human being is loved by God and offered God’s grace, no matter their economic, physical, social, political, or emotional location.

 

An inclusive church lives out of that belief by removing barriers that prevent people from experiencing God’s love. We enable all persons to participate in the spiritual life of the church by providing space for worship and community. We provide emotional space, a place of healing, and honoring every person for who they are. We provide the physical space for people by providing accessible worship space to all peoples. An inclusive church is open, accepting, and supporting of all people.

 

I believe an inclusive church is welcoming but more than that, I believe an inclusive church is always reaching out beyond its walls. An inclusive church is one in which the members pass by a homeless person sleeping on a park bench and see a human being. An inclusive church is one in which the members sit with disadvantaged children to help them learn to read; where holding the door for someone, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, or economic struggles, is second nature; a church whose members gather to feed homeless teenagers, make blankets for kids pulled from their home, and get to know names of less fortunate people in their neighborhood…that is an inclusive church.

Tell us about: Ordination

¶324.9.m:  What is the meaning of ordination in the context of the general ministry of the Church?

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Tell us about: Diakonia

¶324.9.l:  Describe your understanding of diakonia, the servant ministry of the church, and the servant ministry of the provisional member.

Continue reading Tell us about: Diakonia