Palpable Presence


What an outstanding experience I had recently — training the first half of our stewardship associates and meeting with all of them by phone! These nine people from across the United States will help teach stewardship and generosity in the local church.

The first event we are offering is a workshop called “Annual Funding and Extravagant Generosity.” The workshop shows church leaders how to develop a plan for cultivating generosity in their congregations, and it explains how an annual funding program fits into the big picture. It also introduces a great, new local church funding resource called Extravagant Generosity: The Heart of Giving. A stewardship associate will lead the first half of the workshop, and one of the Extravagant Generosity co-authors will lead the second half.

I couldn’t resist promoting the workshop we have to offer. But what I felt most when we gathered with the stewardship associates was the presence of God, right there with us. It reminded me of 2 Timothy 4:1 (NRSV), which says, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, . . . I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; . . . encourage with the utmost patience in teaching.”

Persistence and patience make a powerful combination, especially when we have a message — when we have a Person — who is true and loving and working through us (even despite us), right here and right now. The palpable presence of God, through a team of committed Christians — What a gift!

Your partner in ministry,
Betsy Schwarzentraub
Written 5/23/2011 for the General Board of Discipleship
of the United Methodist Church