From the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation or Facebook/ - 1-888-903-9863

The Paradox of Generosity - July 2017

 “for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” (2 Corinthians 8:2b)

Extreme poverty overflowing into a wealth of generosity is another of those grace-filled paradoxes we find in Scripture: those who humble themselves will be exalted, those who lose their life for my sake will find it, blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Sometimes we United Methodists act as if, while struggling to make ends meet in our churches, we are suffering a “severe ordeal of affliction.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. In 2016, the 35,231 United Methodist households in Wisconsin were blessed with incomes totaling about $2.5 billion. Even assuming we put away ten percent of that for retirement, college educations, etc., the tithe on our remaining earnings should be about $172 million. Instead, in 2016, we gave just over $52 million, about 3%. Our wallets are not afflicted, but our faith may be. Our paradox is though blessed with much, we withhold much.

What would we be able to achieve if we tithed? In addition to “paying the bills,” each church could feed the hungry in its community, support overseas missionaries, sponsor and provide scholarships for Volunteer in Mission trips around the world, provide tutoring after school, build a youth center, create a multi-platform communication system that provides your community with access to sermons & Christian education, and hire staff to develop, organize and manage all these activities.

And, consider this. As we start doing so much more in the community, our congregations will grow in both membership and attendance as well. When these new and newly revived members model their giving on your example, they will increase the church's capacity for good even more. Now that is Stewardship!

Jim Wells, Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation

Sue Koch