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Connectional Funding – Keeping The Focus on the Ministry of the Local Church

By Keith Boyette

Global Methodists connecting together for the mission of the church.

An overarching goal for the Global Methodist Church is to ensure that as much of the tithes and offerings given in the local church remain in the local church to advance its ministry in its mission field. Its mission field certainly includes the community in which it is located but extends to the ends of the earth. The GM Church intends for each local church to have a role in fulfilling the Great Commission around the world.

In the GM Church, connectional funding is structured to keep our focus on the ministry occurring in and through the local church.

When I pastored Wilderness Community Church in Spotsylvania, Virginia, our church knew we were to advance the Gospel and make disciples in our region, but we also sensed God was calling us to focus on one distant region of the world. After much prayer and study, we discerned God calling us to invest in fulfilling the Great Commission in the Ayacucho region of Peru among the Quechua, descendants of the Incas. For 15 years, the church annually sent three to four teams to that region to train pastors, build churches, provide medical care, and offer vacation Bible schools for children.

My prayer is that every Global Methodist church will, with thanksgiving and generosity, deploy financial resources for advancing the Great Commission in their given mission fields. And of course, I hope their commitments will also involve the personal offering of their individual members’ gifts and skills.

In addition to the work of each local church, our connectional funding shares represent the way GM Church congregations band together to provide resources for the work of the general church and the annual conferences to which they belong. Connectional funding is established as a percentage of a local church’s operating income. Rather than establishing a budget at the general church level and apportioning that budget to all local churches, the amount paid in connectional funding is determined by the local church. And what the local church pays in connectional funding determines the budget of the general church and the various annual conferences. The system encourages grass roots initiative, investment, and innovation.

Connectional funding is addressed in ¶ 349 of the Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline. All local churches are asked to contribute one percent of their operating income to the funding of the general church. Among a number of things, these funds are used to cover the costs required for organizing the church, to recruit and train its leaders, to incubate and support its growth in challenging locations all around the world, and to invest in planting new churches and revitalizing existing ones. In one way or another, the funds are to support the entire connection in fulfilling the Global Methodist Church’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly.

Where provisional annual conferences are not yet operating, local churches are also asked to pay an additional one percent of their operating income to underwrite the formation of annual conferences in their regions. Where a provisional annual conference has been established, the connectional funding rate is established by the initial conference leadership and then ratified at a convening annual conference meeting. At subsequent annual conference gatherings, lay and clergy delegates representing local churches will set the connectional funding share amount between one to five percent of a congregation’s operating income. These resources are for annual conference operations.

You can read more about connectional funding in the Global Methodist Church in two articles: Connectional Funding in the Global Methodist Church and Preparing the Way: Baptisms, Connectional Funding, and Benefits.

Connectional funding is the Global Methodist way of partnering together to accomplish the larger vision and mission of the church. During this season of transition a small number of churches have asked for and been granted relief from the payment of connectional funding due to the significant financial strains of disaffiliating from one denomination in order to join the GM Church. These requests for relief are perfectly appropriate in this transitional season.

Other churches, not facing such onerous conditions, are going above and beyond the percentages mentioned above. Recently, a congregation sent two percent for its general church connectional funding share and six percent for its annual conference funding. It did so as a way of expressing its thanks for God’s blessing and as a sign of its commitment to the GM Church – not because they were required to do so.

Another church shared their story of having more resources to do ministry in its local community and beyond. Having aligned with the Global Methodist Church, the finance committee calculated its connectional funding for both the general church and annual conference. Its connectional funding amount was just 27 percent of the amount it had paid previously in apportionments. This meant the church had a considerable additional sum it could use to advance the Gospel in its community and beyond. Such circumstances exist because Global Methodist Church members are staunchly committed to creating innovative, nimble, and modest general church and annual conference structures.

It’s a new way and philosophy of ministry where God given resources are directed to telling the story of Jesus: his amazing love and sacrifice, the miracles he is still working in our midst, and the transformation he is bringing into lives near and far through the ministry of his disciples.

You can learn more about the Global Methodist Church by exploring its website.

The Rev. Keith Boyette is the Transitional Connectional Officer of the Global Methodist Church, its chief executive and administrative officer.

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