Christian community is not just a feel-good thing. Being committed to a body of believers, reaching out and supporting one another, are parts of our stewardship of the church itself. Participating in a faith community is not just a responsibility; it is a gift from God to be celebrated, received, and shared.
“I was very fortunate to have parents who got it,” says Don Hayashi, President of the National Federation of Asian American United Methodists. His parents lived their lives in ways that exhibited mutual sharing and gratitude. Their Japanese American congregation, where his father was pastor, practiced mutual giving and receiving as a part of its ministry. Whenever someone was grateful for what God had done in his or her life, that person gave a “Thank Offering.”
The gratitude could be due to the crops coming in, an anniversary or birthday, surviving an accident, overcoming illness, or some other circumstance. People contributed a few dollars, sometimes more. The “thank offering” was then placed in a separate bank account. Over the years, the “thank offering” accumulated enough to purchase property for needed church expansion. The church members celebrated God’s generosity.
When we share the resourcefulness of who we are and what we have, the whole becomes far more than the sum of its parts. Instead of isolated individuals periodically daring to give time, attention, and support to others, the faith community becomes more like a magnetic field: a cosmic electric grid pulsing with energy, becoming more dynamic, more effective, as it grows.
The church community itself grows and deepens whenever we joyfully, consistently steward our community relationships. By practicing the mutuality of giving and receiving, we become dynamic stewards of God’s living community.
Your partner in ministry,
Written 10/18/2010 for the General Board of Discipleship
of the United Methodist Church