Thursday, October 27, 2016

Introducing Online Giving & Text-to-Give

“Your generosity produces thanksgiving to God through us.”
(2 Corinthians 9:11)

I’m pleased to announce two new ways that you can now give to God through the ministries of LaGrange First UMC:  (1) Online Giving through our church website; and (2) Text-to-Give through your own smart phone.

Both methods accept donations either from checking accounts (EFT direct debit), debit cards, and credit cards (although we encourage givers to use the checking account method, as this is the lowest cost option for the church and the most financially sound method for the giver).  What’s more is that your giving can be made either as a one-time gift, or can be scheduled as recurring donations with several giving options.  If you are a church member, you can even choose to link your giving to your online member profile via a link emailed to your inbox.

Overall, these new options make life easier for you while also yielding significant benefits for your church:
● Your transactions are financially safe and secure
● Setting up your giving takes just a few easy steps
● Recurring donations help you to create consistent and faithful giving, resulting in a more stable base of income so that your church can more easily focus on its mission
● Online giving helps your church be more efficient through simplified accounting and gift processing
● Your current and past giving records (which only you can see) are immediately viewable online - there’s no need to wait for a paper statement

Of course, our traditional giving choices remain: members and guests may continue to give cash or checks using our paper  envelopes during worship on Sunday mornings, or by mailing them to the church office during the week.  But these two forms simply add two new ways to give.  And in the weeks to come, those using these giving methods can also participate in the Sunday offering symbolically by placing an “I Give Electronically” donation card in the offering plates/baskets.

To give online, simply follow the instructions on the “giving” tab of our church website, or text “LGFUMC” to “73256” to use Text-to-Give.

My wife and I have chosen to use online giving as our preferred method of giving our tithes and offerings to LaGrange First UMC, and I invite you to join us in this if you are so inclined.  But regardless of how you give, know that your giving (your “generosity”) produces thanks to God through your church!  Always remember that God loves you and I do, too!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

first: putting GOD first in living & giving

“Seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all
these things will be given to you as well”  (Matthew 6:33)

Do we worship idols? The answer may surprise you.  During this month, our church will hear about God’s generosity and our response as we experience our stewardship program, first: putting GOD first in living and giving, developed by author and pastor Mike Slaughter of Ginghamsburg Church.

We are made in God’s image and are meant to be creators of life and hope, not the consumers of our culture’s shiny gods.  We have the ability to change the world and create a legacy that will live forever in the lives of generations to follow. That legacy starts when each of us takes the hard steps of financial discipline and fulfilling the call to generosity that God has placed in all of us.

The goal of this stewardship program is not to make anyone feel guilty, nor is it to say that any of us have to be exactly like someone else.  No, the goal is for all of us to ask questions of ourselves and be open to the possibility that God will lead us in new directions in our lives.

During the four-week program, we’ll be challenged in a number of different ways.
            ● We’ll be asked to look for the idols in our own lives (Hint: Most of them aren’t animals made of gold) and name the ways these idols enslave us, holding us back from living in the true freedom that God desires for us.
            ● We’ll be challenged to consider the place that money, work, and debt have in our own lives. What are our common understandings of these, and might the witness of Scripture lead us to some different understandings?
            ● We’ll be challenged to ask ourselves what it means for us to be faithful, to save, and to give. How do we balance all the competing interests in our lives? What priorities does God want us to have?
            ● Finally, on Sunday, October 23 (“Celebration/Commitment Sunday”), we’ll be challenged during one combined and blended 10:30am worship service in the Sanctuary to give with our hearts, not out of obligation or a sense of duty and not just when we think the recipient deserves our gift. We’ll be challenged to give the way God gives -- freely, fully, with no favorites or expectations of repayment.  We’ll follow that service with a great church-wide luncheon: we’ll provide the BBQ; you provide the side dishes.

It’s my prayer that, at the end of these four weeks, we’ll all have begun to grow into the individuals and church that God knows we can be. So, as a response to God’s invitation through this stewardship program, I invite you to join me putting GOD first both in your living and your giving.  And always remember that God loves you and I do, too!