Sunday, August 1, 2010

It's a Privilege, Not an Obligation!

Today was the last class in "Methodism 101" and our concentration was on matters of church polity. Now, I will tell you that The Church of the Nazarene, of whom I am still a member, stole liberally from the Methodist polity. Nazarene polity is simpler and more representative in general, with at least one less layer of government. Another difference is in the matter of choosing pastors. But I am not here to talk about that. I am here to talk about one of the similarities.

The United Methodist Church gives "apportionments" to its churches--amounts of money that local church is responsible to give to the general church (I suppose the correct Methodist term would be General Conference) for missions, education, relief, etc.

[Naz Note: A "budget" by any other name is still a "budget"!]

Here's the thing: Rev. Wendy Chrostek reminded everyone that the local church is not some solo operation on the corner. That the local church, like COR or any other UM church is part of the entire world, and as such, has the opportunity to reach out to the wider world through the apportionments. She put it in such good words that my note taking failed me, because I was so blessed. If we can get people to catch this vision--this idea that money you give in Grandview, Missouri or Wolcott, Vermont, or Leawood, Kansas can bless people on the other side of the world--then meeting these giving goals would be much easier. I always liked what we had started doing in Grandview in the latter years of Pastor Severson's time: we set aside 10% of monies received to use to fulfill the budget obligations. I was glad to take this step of faith--and it was faith when you know the electric bill is due!

In the end, it is a privilege to be a part of paying these apportionments or budgets. It's a way of being part of reaching around the country and around the world. Churches (and boards and pastors) often look at them as an obligation to be filled. Better to look at them as an opportunity to take advantage of--an opportunity to educate young people, bring food to the hungry, and the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have not yet heard or those who need teaching, loving and discipling in other parts of our country and the world.

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