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Category Archives: Five Practices

Extravagant Generosity

Jesus, consistent with the Old Testament,  speaks unabashedly and repeatedly about wealth, greed and generosity. In Mark 12.41-44, Jesus relates a story comparing the giving of the rich to that of poor widow who gives two very small copper coins. Jesus comments …

They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.

There are many things that can distract us from faithful living, and money is one of them. We can become distracted by working too long and too hard, by comparing what we have with what  others have or by desiring earthly recognition for our giving, desiring our reward on earth and by giving with the wrong motivations.

What motivated the generosity of the poor widow that Jesus observed?

It was NOT the religious system; the religious system was corrupt. Prior to this passage, Jesus says, “Watch out for the teachers of the law … They devour widows’ houses …” We cannot base our generosity on the Church, the denomination, or the pastor. Our giving is to God.

The widow did NOT give out of her abundance, but out of her poverty. She gave everything she had to live on. She sacrificially gave all that she had as Jesus in two days would give his life on a cross for us.

The widow did NOT give in a showy manner, as the rich “threw” their money in such a way as to make some noise. The widow “put” her money in. No one needed to know but God. And God did see, just as Jesus saw. No offering goes unnoticed by God.

Her offering was small in value, but big on proportion. Some point to tithing as an Old Testament teaching, not present in the New Testament. Here Jesus lifts up proportional giving as: “all she had to live on.”

The widow was faithful and spiritually mature. She was thankful to God for his provision; she knew it was God who provided and cared for her. Implicit in this passage, she is a joyful giver–her attitude is right.

Questions for Reflection

  1. From whom have you learned your patterns of giving?
  2. Are you continuing to learn? Every aspect of our lives is touched, including our giving, when we grow in Christ.
  3. What proportion of your income do you give? Have you ever figured out the percent of your income that you give? If not, why? Why are you resistant?
  4. In what way does this story speak to you, inspire, touch you? To whom do you relate: the rich, the poor widow, the disciples gathered around Jesus to hear him teach?
  5. Finally, who do you love? In whom do you trust? Have you found your purpose in sharing Christ with others?

Intentional Faith Development

Bishop Schnase is clear in his definition that faith development happens outside of weekly worship and that it happens in community. Faith development involves practices by which “we mature in faith; we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God” (Cultivating Fruitfulness 43). Our spiritual growth never stops, it is never to…

Passionate Worship

I have always thought that worship is something difficult to describe. We can come to worship at a weekend service but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have worshiped. Worship cannot be done for us. We don’t attend a worship service and passively watch others worship. We all are participants in worship. We all are…

Radical Hospitality

Schnase defines Christian hospitality as “the active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ.” It is active: that means we have to do something! It is offered to strangers, those we don’t…

Cultivating Fruitfulness

The theme this Lent at West Side UMC is based on Bishop Robert Schnase’s Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations: Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Faith Development, Risk-Taking Mission and Service, Extravagant Generosity. The purpose of this study is to move toward greater fruitfulness for the glory of God. Schnase points out these five practices “are…

Intentional Faith Development 3.0

A year ago, Centre Grove’s church council began reading Bishop Robert Schnase‘s Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. I’m blogging the journey and have written several posts tagged Five Practices. It’s been a while since I’ve written about our experience with the Five Practices, partly because we’ve been slowly making our way through Intentional Faith Development…

Bishop Schnase Visits Pennsylvania

Last week, Bishop Robert Schnase (Bishop in Residence of the Missouri Area of The United Methodist Church) came to teach on the Five Practices in our conference. Since we’re working our way through the Five Practices at Centre Grove, the event was partly review for me, but it was also good to hear Bishop Schnase…

Intentional Faith Development 2.0

In my last post, I blogged reflections from Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Bishop Robert Schnase. In this post, I’ll share some practical ideas that are coming out of Centre Grove church council’s discussion of the reading. Earlier this week, we talked about what we’re currently doing in the area of faith development (including…