Faith+Lead: Why do you give to the church and/or other non-profit?
Melvin Amerson: Like many, I evolved and developed a spirit of generosity. The gift of giving is an action that connects me with God and community. My eyes, my heart, my hands… Our eyes are often the first to see the needs and plight of the people in the community, which moves the heart, and engages our hands to acts of generosity.
I do much of my giving through the church for a few reasons. First, giving to and through the church is an act of worship, shows gratitude, and serves as a conduit for sharing and providing for people in need. Further, giving is an integral part of Christian discipleship and membership vows in many faith communities.
Supporting other nonprofits beyond the local church is also very important and personal for me. These gifts connect with my unique interests and community on a deep level beyond the church. Impact and transformational gifts are vital to nonprofits who serve underserved communities.
Faith+Lead: How do you prefer to give (i.e., credit card, check, text messaging)?
Melvin Amerson: For years, I have primarily given via credit card for convenience and reward program benefits. E-giving options benefit both the giver and the receiving organization with convenient and regular gifts.Recurring giving options are an added benefit. Online contributions made from home or in the sanctuary still honor God and support ministry. Personally, I do not feel e-giving makes the offering plate obsolete, even though we are trending toward a cashless society. For years prior to the pandemic, I would place a predetermined amount of cash in the offering plate each week in addition to my electronic gifts. This practice is inspired by I Corinthians 16:1-4: “Regarding the relief offering for poor Christians that is being collected, you get the same instructions I gave the churches in Galatia. Every Sunday each of you make an offering and put it in safekeeping. Be as generous as you can. When I get there you’ll have it ready, and I won’t have to make a special appeal. Then after I arrive, I’ll write letters authorizing whomever you delegate, and send them off to Jerusalem to deliver your gift.” The Message
Faith+Lead: What encourages you to give to the church? What discourages you from giving to the church?
Melvin Amerson: I give to the church for five reasons.
- Giving to the church is an act of worship and honors God.
- Our tithes and offerings support the church and its mission and ministry to the community near and far.
- Stories about the impact of ministry are so encouraging and inspiring that I continue my support and participation.
- Supporting the church centers on my relationship with the Lord.
- Leadership is entrusted and empowered to carry out the mission and ministry of the church.
Faith+Lead: What values guide your giving?
Melvin Amerson: Luke 12:48 and the “Generosity Chapters” 8 and 9 in II Corinthians are a few of my scriptural foundations for compassion and generosity. Compassion and concern for others forms and guides my values regarding giving.
Faith+Lead: What does stewardship mean to you?
Melvin Amerson: Stewardship is the responsibility and the act of maintaining all possessions entrusted to us by God, while sharing and gifting resources for the good of community and humankind near and far. This includes caring for and preserving the environment.
Faith+Lead: Do you feel like your giving to the church is making an impact? Why or why not?
Melvin Amerson: The early church in Acts and the Macedonian Church in II Corinthians 8 and 9, illustrate how believers with shared missional focus can significantly influence and impact communities. As a Christian, a member of the body of Christ, and part of a faith community, I feel my gifts collectively have an impact.
Faith+Lead: Who influenced your approach to generosity?
Melvin Amerson: There are many who influenced my views on generosity, but Mr. Wilson, a family friend, and church member made a great impression upon me as a boy. He covered all transportation costs for a big youth group trip. He was a financial leader with a generous heart, often the first to support an initiative.
Faith+Lead: How do you decide how much to give to the church and/ or other nonprofits?
Melvin Amerson: Tithe to the church. Giving money to nonprofits involves some complexity because there are organizations that I regularly support and others when I am motivated by special appeals. Typically, I attempt to allocate a percentage of funds for special appeals on an annual basis—but often exceed that sum.
Faith+Lead: What role does giving play in your financial life as a whole?
Melvin Amerson: Giving is an integral part of discipleship, which means giving is a core component of my financial life.
Faith+Lead: How has your giving changed over time?
Melvin Amerson: After teaching, preaching, mentoring, and coaching stewardship and generosity for years, my giving has evolved in significant ways. Today, I give in a variety of ways beyond cash and checks, and I give both more spontaneously and strategically.
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