As a pastor, I have heard many people’s opinion on Connectional Giving (apportionments) within the United Methodist Church. (For those who are not UM, we are a “connectional” church, which means that all of our churches are connected under the banner of the District that the church resides in. The District is part of the Conference and the Conference is part of the General church.) The opinions have ranged from being unfair and to a tax on local churches. I believe that some of these opinions are formed due to not having an understanding about what Connectional giving actually entails.
As a pastor, I believe that ONE of the signs of spiritual maturity is giving of one’s resources (money, time, resources) to God. It is Biblical that as disciples we give at least 10% of our earnings back to God. Is this because God needs our money? NO! It’s because money can so easily become lord of our lives and God’s desire is to be first in our life, not our money. I believe Connectional Giving is one of the signs of spiritual maturity in the life of a church. It’s a way for us to give back to God a portion of the blessings He has given to us. That reason alone should be reason enough for all UM churches to strive for 100% connectional giving. However, I want to (over the next several weeks) share with my readers how what we give is used.
One of the ways that our givings are used is to fund the Ministerial Education Fund (MEF). The MEF is used to help people who are called to go into the pastoral ministry fund their seminary education. In my own career as a minister I can tell you that there would have been no way for me to go to seminary without MEF. Not only was I able to go, I was able to graduate with next to no student loans. Praise God and thanks to all the churches who paid their apportionments. I owe a great deal of my seminary education to them.