Apportionments One-Liners

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ONE-LINERS ABOUT APPORTIONMENTS
FOR YOUR CHURCH BULLETIN OR NEWSLETTER

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Apportionments are our shared connectional ministries a way to reach out to transform lives beyond the reach of any single congregation.
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Not a tax but real, live ministry! Through Apportionments, we sustain vital work through hundreds of channels nearby and around the world.
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Thanks to our apportionments, more than 800 fulltime mission personnel work on our behalf around the globe, when disaster strikes, in ongoing ministry and self-development, as the Body of Christ at work in the world.
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Giving is an act of faith: faith in God at work through the multiple ministries of the United Methodist Church in the world.
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Ministry comes in extended forms, when we give for Christ’s work beyond our local community through Apportionments, sharing through our church’s worldwide connection.
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Apportionments are people who serve others in the name of Christ on your behalf.
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Apportionments change people’s lives, renew them, save them and give them hope.
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Our network works! Apportionments are people committed to Christ through our connectional system of ministries.
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Apportionments mean people of faith are in mission for Christ’s church in the world: our way of living out our faith.
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“Apportionment” means “a portion meant for others”, in our district, conference and around the world.
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Thanks to our Apportionments, the Conference Center is a gathering place for ministries beyond the work of conference staff. In any given year, dozens of groups use the building in West Sacramento, coming from our local churches, districts, conference and denomination. Thanks to you, we have a gathering place to share.
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Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians that our good works cause others to praise God, for this is proof that your deeds are as good as your doctrine. Apportionments allow members of our faith to connect with one another in doing good deeds are the world, every day.
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When an earthquake strikes San Francisco, the United Methodist Church is there with relief. When a typhoon hits Hawaii, or an earthquake tears apart El Salvador, the United Methodist Church is there with relief. When a hurricane blows through the Carolinas, or floods ravage the Midwest, the United Methodist Church is there with relief. Our Apportionments help clothe, feed and house people in need, all because of Jesus.

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Having a Mission-Based Financial Commitment Program

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We talk about mission. We do mission. So how can we make our church’s annual financial commitment program mission-based, instead of sounding like one more “sell job” about our church’s programs?

1. Keep the main thing the Main Thing. Most people really do hear what we say. It’s just that they have lots of buttons that get pushed from their previous experiences. So if we refer to a line-item budget anywhere in the process, they’ll think the “campaign” is about “raising the budget.” That’s where intentional language comes into play. Most shorthand ways to refer to the financial commitment program point in the direction of selling. And that implies that they are customers and consumers buying the church’s services.

So do not do a line item budget until after members have had a chance to respond to God’s work in the world. Do a narrative budget instead – by dynamics of your mission, not by program categories. Divide staff and facilities time, as well. Make your narrative primarily visual, and interlace it with in-person stories. The point is not “What our church can do for you,” but “Look at what God is doing in the world!”

2. It’s all about attitude. The purpose of a financial commitment program is not just to fund our ministries. Its main purpose is to connect our living and giving with God’s overwhelming generosity towards us. Whether we have a lot or a little in money, possessions, time or personal involvement, the issue is our attitude. Do we think we own what God has entrusted to us, or do we want to spend it well, according to God’s priorities, in line with God’s overwhelming grace towards us?

3. Highlight First Fruits Living. “First fruits living” is giving the first and the best to God and managing all the rest according to God’s generosity.1 It refers to all of our resources and relationships. It challenges us to give and use 100 percent of what God has given us. Teaching first fruits living can help people let go of fixations on magic percentages or static money amounts, and focus on responding to God’s generosity towards us with all of who we are and what we have.

4. Look for changed lives. People give to honest-to-God change that makes a difference in people’s lives. And they are savvy consumers, suspicious of hype that masquerades as the real thing. So go overboard answering the “So what?” question from the start. In your preparation time, discover children, youth and adults who have been touched by God, through your involvements. Look for a personal connection, which usually exists only three degrees away.

We all want to invest ourselves in what the Living God is doing in people’s lives. It may be one person at a time in a specific youth or senior, child, adult or family, whether they are right in our neighborhood or around the world.

5. Link to worship and small group life. Give people a chance to discuss God’s generosity towards us and our growth in generous-hearted living. Make the program theme your worship theme for five weeks. Offer a small-group series for people to explore the topics out of their own life experiences.

6. Make it part of a Generosity Plan. It takes a written plan to help the congregation keep growing in generous-hearted living. Use the new United Methodist Guidelines booklet, Stewardship: Nurturing Generous Living2 to create a Generosity Team and establish a twelve-month Generosity Plan. The booklet will guide you with essential elements, how to support the work of the church’s other ministries, and how the financial commitment program fits into the larger picture. Start with a few baby steps, but start. You can’t grow vibrant, faithful stewards if it’s always connected to fundraising or stuffed into one season.

7. Remember Who’s in charge. Your congregation is God’s church and ministry. Put your leadership into it, but trust God to transform lives through the giving.

Betsy Schwarzentraub

Written 8/2013 for Yellowstone Conference UM Foundation

1 = Cf. Betsy Schwarzentraub, Afire With God, p. 91 and the writings of Lynn Miller and Mark L. Vincent (Herald Press).
2 = Copyright 2012 by Cokesbury (Abingdon Press).

Having a Mission-Based Financial Commitment Program by Betsy Schwarzentraub is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Mission Shares Part 2: The Local-Global Balance

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Okay, so it’s an art keeping local and global ministries in a healthy balance. But paying our Conference Mission Shares helps us hugely on both fronts.

To begin with, Mission Shares help us fight consumerism. Yes, our whole society swims in those waters. But the consumer attitude can seep into our churches – like the view that when we give financially we’re buying the church’s services instead of participating in God’s work. We can see ourselves as recipients, even consumers, and that “if some services are good, more are better.” We can assume that the local church exists to serve us, and “you get what you pay for.”

But regular, intentional participation in our Mission Shares reinforces a different viewpoint: that it’s an honor to participate in God’s work in the world. As we hear how they support life-changing situations, they also give us a sense of hope, knowing that we are actually doing something specific to help transform people’s lives.

For example, Mission Shares empower Congregational Development work in this Conference: not only creating new worshipping faith communities, but also helping existing churches revitalize by reconnecting with their local communities. The “Nu Places for Nu Faces” course prepares members to strengthen new churches, while the Conference Lay Servant Ministry equips United Methodist to be a force for revitalization in their churches by teaching, training and leading in all facets of congregational life.

Second, Mission Shares remind us that we are baptized into the global Church. When we were baptized, it was not into a single congregation or even a particular denomination. It was into the Body of Christ worldwide, beyond all partisan labels. When we pay our Mission Shares we give “a portion meant for others” (hence “Apportionments”) so the whole Body of Christ can heal, grow, and transform this world, both nearby and far away from our front doors.

And third, our Mission Shares help us express our United Methodist vows. The more aware we are of where our money goes and what ministries it empowers, the more we can pray for one another, be present to one another in direct and indirect ways, and offer our monetary gifts, our personal service of involvement, and our witness to the power of the gospel in our lives.

All this presumes that God – the true Sovereign of the universe and Redeemer of our souls – really does transform people’s lives through our connectional giving. If you’re still not sure of that, ask any Yellowstone Conference leader about where they see God changing lives, congregations and communities. Then check out http://www.umcgiving.org to glimpse where our General Conference Apportionments go. Through our Mission Shares, we participate in an exciting local-and-global ministry, spreading out from right outside our door, all the way around the globe!

Betsy Schwarzentraub

Written 7/2013 for the Yellowstone Conference UM Foundation

Mission Shares and the Local-Global Balance by Betsy Schwarzentraub is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Mission Shares Part 1: Long Arms and Jesus’ Feet

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God doesn’t work just with United Methodists. We can glimpse God’s activity all around us! So why participate in God’s work through our Apportionments, or “Mission Shares”? For starters, it has to do with long arms and Jesus’ feet.

First of all, our Mission Shares really do support mission.  “It’s an amazing thing when people in rural Montana and Wyoming can be part of the things going on in Angola, Cambodia and Mongolia,” says Sally McConnell, our Yellowstone Conference Missions Coordinator.

Yes, our Mission Shares support hundreds of fulltime missionaries here and around the world, but Yellowstone has a special relationship with three of them. We know they’re real people in real situations, and they keep in touch with us. For example, Ken Koome, missionary in eastern Angola, will visit churches in our Conference this September 4 through 16, traveling from Montana to Cody, Wyoming within that time frame. Watch for dates and locations so you can hear him.

The “Mission Inside and Out” event this spring was another great example of bringing our mission connections home.  Jim Gulley, our missionary in Haiti, shared stories about the work being done and affirmed the long history this Conference has with them by providing money and sending mission teams. And local churches brought their contributions, as well. For example, the people from Missoula brought supplies for Family Promise, which helps homeless families, including school and health care supplies.

Second, Mission Shares reach beyond where a single congregation can go. Without our ministry connections, even the most mission-minded congregation only has one arm’s-length for direct, hands-on mission. But thanks to our worldwide network, all kinds of collaborative ministries are taking place, far beyond one congregation’s normal reach.

The Mission Extravaganza at Annual Conference Session this June not only raised a lot of money for Imagine No Malaria, but also raised awareness of human needs and of our great resources when we work together. Imagine No Malaria is an exciting second-mile effort (not part of our Mission Shares) where our denomination has teamed up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others to wipe out malaria around the globe. But this “extra effort” would not be possible if it weren’t for our existing mission network already in place, church-to-church and Conference-to-Conference, across the United States and elsewhere.

Third, Mission Shares put Jesus’ priorities into action. Jesus’ life and ministry embody love of God through love of neighbor. His Risen Presence and ongoing witness urge us to pay particular attention to people on the margins of power. So our Mission Shares have much to teach us about the gospel (what Paul calls “spiritual blessings”), even as we share our material blessings with them.

For example, together we support the Blackfeet United Methodist Parish, by providing the salary for a pastor who serves three congregations on the reservation. The Parish has a strong youth group there, and provides a clothing bank and other community services.

Speaking of youth and young adults, Mission Shares also support Campus Ministries here in our Conference. The students gather not only for worship and fellowship, but also for personal mission. Just this past January, a campus ministry team went to Haiti to help out.

Fourth, Mission Shares help us guard against turning into a club. They sustain people who live and work in our Conference to help us make connections with others. They help us fight against the tendency to become inwardly-focused, and so keep us being the Church, Christ at work in the world.

One of these Conference resources is Sally McConnell, our Conference Missions Coordinator. She keeps churches connected and helps bring them together to brainstorm responses to mission emergencies both nearby and far away. She raises awareness of needs and resources, and coordinates our responses. “It’s not glamorous, but somebody needs to do it,” she says. “There are good things happening all over, but it’s hard to put it all into words.”

So Mission Shares aren’t just a practical way of doing ministry together. They support honest-to-God mission. They give us a whole network of ministries that extend our reach. And they keep us living as the Church, focused on Jesus’ priorities.

Betsy Schwarzentraub

Written 7/2013 for Yellowstone Conference UM Foundation
Mission Shares: Long Arms and Jesus’ Feet by Betsy Schwarzentraub is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Ways Local Churches Can Increase Their Apportionment Payments and Lift Up Our Shared Ministries Connectional Giving

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+ Highlight one Apportionment category in worship on the second Sunday of each month, with a special offering for that ministry. Publicize beforehand in church newsletter, bulletin, and bulletin board. Emphasize the 4 Annual Conference Apportionments over four months, the 2 Jurisdictional Apportionments together one month, and the 7 General Church Apportionments over 7 months. One churchwide event can feature a speaker who’s involved in a district ministry to present the district askings.

+ Break down your yearly Apportionments figure into an amount per week, and send that amount in weekly to the Conference Treasurer. Use the breakdown amounts to publicize the purpose and cost of our connectional ministries.

+ Think of all the personal connections to each dimension of ministry. Invite that person or someone related to the ministry to come speak in worship. For example, invite someone from your District Council on Ministries to share what our district askings are doing to transform people’s lives.

+ Borrow a Connectional Giving Display from your district or the CA-NV United Methodist Foundation, to have it up in your own local church for a specific period of time. Invite Connectional Giving Interpreters or Stewardship Associates from the Foundation, active or retired clergy, or clergy in Extension Ministries to come speak. Invite someone to speak who is involved in a ministry near you, directly or indirectly supported by the District or Annual Conference.

+ Hold a Church Family Night to highlight the eleven new Mission Initiatives of our United Methodist Church! Contact the Foundation or one of the Connectional Giving Interpreters to make a presentation or bring part of the “In Mission Together” video. You may choose to have one event for each of the four areas of the world. Or you can show a little about each country in one shortened presentation. (Provide separate video movies for the children to watch that night.)

+ Invite your local church Lay Leader to meet with the District Lay Leader (who is also a Connectional Giving Interpreter) and your Lay Member of Annual Conference Session. Work together to draft a local church connectional giving interpretation plan, then reshape it together with your pastor. Invite area clergy on extension ministries and retired clergy to join the team.

+ Call our Conference chair for missionary itineration, and set dates for missionaries to come speak to your local church, cluster, or district

+ Connect our Apportionment giving with United Methodist Women’s studies (Schools of Christian Mission and Reading Program). Talk with the leaders of your United Methodist Women about having a UMW program on our connectional giving, including the UMW Caring Connection.

Written 2/2007 for the California-Nevada Annual Conference