Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

OKUMF leaders encourage “hilarious” giving


By Chris Schutz

Putting money in the collection plate may not feel hilarious, but it should.

That was the message of “Hilarious Giving,” one of the workshops at this year’s Annual Conference.

The workshop referred to 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

The Greek word for “cheerful” sounds like it is related to the English word “hilarious,” said speaker Mike Wiley, a senior advisor at the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation.

Years ago, his daughter Brook provided him with an example of hilarious giving. His birthday was coming so she took him into the card store, had him lift her up to reach the card and then asked him to pay for it.

“What made this special was a burning desire in her heart to honor her father. Then I watched her celebrate,” he said in a handout to the workshop.

“Now I get it – I am no different than Brook. There is little I can do without the help of my Father … I certainly cannot pay the price for my salvation without him.

“We need to respond and honor God by giving back those things he has already given us; then we need to learn to celebrate … hilariously!”

These days, members of the Baby Boom generation are floating the church with their giving, said Wiley and Alan Herndon, director of planned giving for Oklahoma City University.

“Boomers are not going away,” Wiley said. Many of them are holding leadership positions in the church, making younger generations think they “are not going to get their chance to lead.”

Wiley also said younger people must “take ownership in church.”

One approach may be to introduce online giving, which he believes can appeal to younger members of the congregation. That “does change how people give,” Herndon said.

Wiley encouraged trying the online method, even if people think “we’re too old a church.” To put something in the offering plate, online givers can get a card to put in the offering plate indicating the electronic gift.

Wiley also suggested hosting a special fellowship meal for online givers as a way to thank them.

Herndon encouraged churches to send personal thank-you notes to givers. “They look forward to them,” he said.

He also suggested offering the congregation copies of a “narrative budget,” which explains where the church’s money goes.

The men said one priority is to schedule meetings to get to know the individuals in the congregation. A good administrator will be needed to set up the interviews.

Mike Wiley and Alan Herndon said one way to encourage hilarious giving in the congregation is to get to know individuals during scheduled meetings. The OKUMF leaders recommend that pastors ask their congregants the questions listed below:
  • Ask about their family: who are the parents, grandparents and siblings in their lives?
  • Ask about spouses, places of employment and occupations.
  • Ask about children and grandchildren.
  • Does the family have faith traditions?
  • Ask about their relationship with God.
  • Whether they are close to people at church?
  • Where they turn for spiritual support?
  • Who has been the biggest influence on their relationship with God?
  • Are there areas of your life you’d like to improve?
  • What do you do to stay close to God?
  • How do you share your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness?
  • What ministry excites you, or what ministry do you want to be involved with?
Course materials for "Hilarious Giving" and other workshops from the 2018 Annual Conference are available at okumc.org/2018workshops


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