Giving as a Prophetic Witness | UMC YoungPeople
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July 2017

Giving as a Prophetic Witness

By Jay Campbell

By Jay Campbell

I have been involved in youth ministry for the vast majority of my 20s and I absolutely love it. One of the joys of youth ministry is recognizing the gifts each young person has. One way I often tried to do this is inviting youth to take a spiritual gifts assessment so they can begin to see and nurture the gifts that God has placed with in them.

One pattern I have noticed over the years is that when we reflect on our “top gifts” is that the spiritual practice of giving is almost always at the bottom. Though I must remind myself that I did not understand the beauty of giving until I was nearly 20, this saddens me because I believe Christians should be the most generous group of people that exists.

Christians should be the most generous group of people that exists.

For my life and faith, giving has been one of the most formative and faith-shaping practices that I have experienced. I love when the Apostle Paul invites us to be cheerful givers, “for God loves the cheerful giver” (2 Con 9:7). What if we saw giving as an invitation to participate in the action of God in the world? What if giving invites us to be a part of bigger and more beautiful story? Something I have noticed about youth, is when they are asked to give and to participate in God’s good work, they respond yes!

I often hear the critique of giving to organizations that funding charity does not create systemic change. But what if we gave to create systemic and lasting change? There are many organizations doing such great work. The challenge we must confront in our own faith is to say that if we do not give, then we are saying that 100% of what God has given us is to be used on ourselves. This, to me, sounds so counter to the gospel. Christians should be a generous and giving people, and how we use our money speaks deeply to our understanding of God. At the end of the day we will give our money to something. What we give to reveals what we value. May we give to continue supporting the work of God, and in doing so may we find ourselves swept up in the story of God as we get to be instruments of God enacting change for the kingdom of God.

How we [as Christians] use our money speaks deeply to our understanding of God.

And it’s not about how much we give, it’s about beginning somewhere and giving with a prayerful heart that seeks to align our lives with the movement of God brining restoration and healing to all places and all people. Giving can be a powerful prophetic, counter-cultural act that witnesses to God’s love in the world by saying that money doesn’t have a hold on us, instead we chose to be generous givers, participants in movements that bring God’s shalom. And when asked why we would give money away, we respond, “because that is how Christians live in the world.”

Discussion Questions: What role do you believe giving has in the individual and communal life of Christianity?

Jay Campbell is a provisional elder in the Virginia Conference. He lives with his wife Katie and their dog Rue in Alexandria, VA.