If you've been in churches for a while you've probably heard someone talk about being a "cheerful giver." Its a reference to 2 Corinthians 9:7 and usually that means they want you to give lots of money to the church and not grumble about it. At Hillsdale United Methodist Church we want people to give cheerfully, but we also know that this one verse can be twisted in ways that are not helpful. Read it again from another version of the Bible called 'the Message:'
"I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. "
Don't be manipulated into giving to the church because someone begged you to, or because you felt like you "had to." Give because God has done a work in your heart and you want to respond in gratitude! When the Apostle Paul wrote this verse he was reminding the Corinthian people that they had committed to support his work voluntarily - no one made them do it - but that they should follow through on their commitment.
In our church that means we expect our members to support the work of the church with financial gifts that keep us going. We don't necessarily ask people to give ten percent of their income (that's what many people think a biblical "tithe" is, but actually it was more like 23 percent of your income), but we do ask people to be generous and give all they can to support the important work of the church to change hearts and lives for the good of the world and to build God's kingdom here on earth. For those that are near the poverty level we don't expect them to have to choose between supporting the church and putting food on the table. For those that make more we do expect them to choose between supporting the church and getting more stuff, or supporting other organizations. Only the church is making disciples of Christ, building God's kingdom. This is holy work.
At Hillsdale United Methodist Church we ask each member to assess their finances once a year and commit to give generously as God is generous to us. We ask that you give to the church first instead of just giving whatever happens to be left over. We also ask people to share their stories of how God has blessed and transformed their lives.
But its not just about what you do. The church needs to be responsible, too! That's why we are moving towards a zero-sum budget. That means no money is allocated automatically for groups in the church - they only receive what they can justify for expenses. That saves the church money and means your valuable resources can be redirected toward mission and outreach. We also follow basic good practices of separating those who receive money and those who sign checks. Lois receives money and has kept your information confidential for twenty years! Cindy writes checks and balances the books. She was trained on the job several years ago and keeps our records in great shape. Tom oversees the committee and brings his experience as a successful small business entrepreneur running a Nursery School to our church. He gives monthly stewardship messages in church and runs our yearly campaign. He also makes sure your money is safe by having two people count it each week. We are audited each year by someone independent and outside of our finance committee - obviously they do not have check-signing authority. We do everything we can to make sure your money is safe and that it is directed towards the missional purpose of the church, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Call the church office if you have any questions or would like to look at our financial records. We keep no secrets here!
We invite you to give generously to support the work of the church