We are the hands and feet of Jesus.
At First United Methodist Church we believe you have a unique contribution to make and we are excited to partner with you to make a difference! Serving and giving are tangible acts of worship and gratitude. Join us as we reach beyond the walls of FUMC to share God’s love in the Franklin community and around the world.
On Sunday August 27, 2017 worshipers at the First United Methodist Church in Franklin were invited by ministers David Beam and Margaret Freeman to participate in a “Kingdom Assignment".
The Kingdom Assignment (borrowed from the Rev. Denny Bellesi, Coast Hills Community Church, Aliso Viejo, CA) is a tangible expression of the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew (25:14-30).
Three hundred individuals accepted the challenge and received $100.00 each with three stipulations:
1) This is God’s money
2) To use the money to somehow further the work of the Kingdom of God
3) Return 90 days later (Sunday November 26) and report the results.
Pastor David Beam says he cannot wait to see how God transforms the church. “I am expectant that God will move powerfully in the lives of those who accepted the Kingdom Assignment and their lives and the lives many others will be affected by our embracing the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is truly “afoot” at FUMC and will be made known in the actions and stories of outreach and passion for God’s people! I can’t wait to see how God will transform our lives, our church, our community, and beyond…..we ain’t seen nothing yet!”
As you read the accounts in the coming weeks, allow God to speak to you through Jesus’ parable and ask yourself, ‘what will I do with what I have been given’…to glorify God and care for God’s people?
14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” 21His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” 23His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The Kingdom Assignment Blog, by Molly Phillips, Church Council Chair
Week 14 (November 26, 2017)
Dear Church Family, Sunday November 26 was a great day of worship as we celebrated the culmination of the Kingdom Assignment! Our thanks to all who shared their stories in worship and also thanks to all of you who received the challenge and have done incredible things with what you have been given, “well done good and faithful servants….enter into the joy of your Master!” We are still receiving your reports and celebrations through December 10 so please write and share your stories of how you have experienced God and done the work of the Kingdom! What an amazing step of faith the Holy Spirit has led us to take through the Kingdom Assignment. God will continue to inspire and challenge us to see ourselves and all that we have been given as a gift of God and call us to be good stewards! Thanks be to God for His grace and goodness and all of you for your response!!
In Christ, David
Week 13 (November 22, 2017)
$31,000 in one-hundred dollar bills for 310 people.
$5,000 for the youth.
$1,000 for the children.
All to spread God’s Kingdom around the world.
Would you like to share your story? We still need volunteers willing to tell about their experiences for this Sunday’s worship. This was such a personal assignment for so many of us, and I understand wanting to keep it to yourself. But God wants us to share our faith journey…the imperfect ones, the ones difficult to express…and especially the ones that are life changing.
If you will share your Kingdom Assignment experience at either of the two services, please contact David.
And, as we sit around tables this Thursday with thankful hearts, I hope you can include your experience as something to be thankful for in 2017.
Week 12 (November 15, 2017)
A little housekeeping item before the story…..The 3rd rule of the Kingdom Assignment (come back in 3 months ready to tell your story) is approaching. Thanks to a group of wonderful volunteers, we are compiling all the stories into a booklet that will be available online or in print for the congregation. Please have your story turned in to the church office by December 1. You can send it digitally by clicking here, or place a hard copy in the secretary box at church.
Now, on to this week’s story, which comes from Florida resident Gayle Conn. A common theme I’ve observed from this assignment has been how people are noticing the need around them with more clarity, and are responding to God’s call in multiple ways beyond the $100. Gayle’s story is no exception.
I, like everyone else on that August morning, was shocked and taken back by the $100 gift for the Kingdom At first, I was overwhelmed and filled with doubt as to how I would be able to give this gift of God’s money back, and multiply God’s gift. I also prayed continually as to how this would work.
My first thought was “food for the less fortunate,” so I bought groceries over a few weeks shopping for BOGO items, thereby multiplying Gods money to help the less fortunate. After all, I was never in need of a good meal, nor were any of my children or grandchildren and this was a need dear to me.
Then one day after the weeks sermon on when we help one of the sick or poor we are helping (or in not; passing by God), I passed a family asking for help due to falling on hard times. Being skeptical on how truthful these individuals were, I passed them by and then remembered the previous weeks sermon. I turned my car around and returned to them, leaving $25 and a business card from the church that we were told about when we "pass it forward.”
Also, while praying on how to help do God’s work, I received a friend request asking for money on a “go fund me” page for a friend who had surgery gone bad and the medical bills, coupled by loss of income due to lost wages, was in desperate need. Here again, God answered prayers for need.
The next step was how to help a need for veterans. This is a cause near and dear to me due to my son’s military service. Wondering how I was going to do that, I prayed, and then last minute just happened to attend the pumpkin roll and saw a booth there to help the homeless veterans. Here it was, right in front of me, the last answer to my prayer! Now, neither of these last three steps were ways to double God’s gift, but then if I donated $100 of God’s money (which He has given to me) back to the church, then I was doubling the gift and enabling the church to do more good in missions, the food bank, or any number of ways that our church helps people every day.
This was such a wonderful lesson in faith and I am truly grateful for the challenge.
Week 11 (November 8, 2017)
All of the Kingdom Assignment stories have warmed my heart, but this one in particular struck me this week. Maybe it was because I read it on a chilly, rainy day, and it was easy to imagine this young man – our neighbor right here in Macon County – trying to better his life with what little he has, now better equipped with tools to help him achieve his goals. What better way to spread God’s love?
Matt (not his real name) is a student at Macon Early College. He lives with his mother, who is unemployed. They have no transportation and move frequently. Matt is quiet, polite and a good student in spite of his situation. A school official said he is pretty much raising himself. His school clothes were sweatpants and well worn sneakers. He needed help, so we took him shopping with our kingdom assignment money. He told us that he had never had any new clothes. We bought two pairs of jeans, four shirts, a sweater, tennis shoes, winter coat and personal items. He didn't even have a toothbrush. As we drove him home that day, his face was beaming with a smile that was worth more than the money. I think it was the first time anyone had done anything for him. A follow up with the school indicated that Matt was doing well now. We are blessed to have been able to help him and we will continue our help. Thank you to our Church Leaders for making this possible. Donna and Pat Patton
Week 10 (November 1, 2017)
If you aren’t on Facebook, or you just missed it in your feed, you might not have heard the story of 9-year old Charlie McSwain’s Kingdom Assignment. Charlie’s ingenuity had her utilizing multiple resources to fulfill her mission to help the animals in Macon County.
Read more about her story as submitted by her grandfather, Michael…
Charlie McSwain, knew immediately what she was going to do when she received her $100.
Charlie loves animals and her heart goes out to the ones who are sick, injured, or unwanted. Her mom, Michelle, gave Charlie her $100 and Charlie then added $50 dollars to the fund from her piggy bank – money that she was saving to buy a bunny rabbit.
Armed with $250, she got permission from K-Mart to set up a table outside their door and, via a sign, pledged to match any public donation up to $250. In early October, she was able to donate $750 to Noah’s Ark Humane Society’s Angel Fund! The organization takes in animals from the police and injured animals, makes them well, and tries to place them. They also do free vet work for animals whose owners cannot afford it. Animals are very important to many people. I am impressed with the
granddaughter, but even more impressed by the generosity of so many people. It restores my faith in humankind!
Week 9 (October 25, 2017)
A letter for a member on their Kingdom Assignment and how it impacted her life.
I just completed the Kingdom assignment and I wanted to share the story with you. At first I was troubled by the huge responsibility that $100 bill represented. It seemed like a lot to handle. I didn’t want to fail. So I prayed and I watched for something, for God to show me what to do. I was nervous… kept thinking about the wailing and gnashing of teeth.
There was no bolt of heavenly lightning. But slowly a thought began to grow. I love children and believe in education and I realized I was going to do something in that area. I looked some more. Prayed some more. I asked my daughter (currently student teaching at an elementary school in Durham) to see if there were any fund raisers planned for the near future at her school. She didn’t find anything. So I broadened my perspective. Was her school planning a book fair? Kids always need more money than they had at a book fair. And we love to read. It was perfect. But she didn’t know when the book fair was going to be held and we had only a few weeks left to complete the assignment. I kept praying but I wasn’t as nervous. I began to trust that God would help me.
At the same time that I thought of little children and school, I realized I wanted to give back to FUMC in some way but I couldn’t just put the money back into the offering plate. David said it could not come back to the church. So I decided to match my God money with my own funds. I began giving more each Sunday to the Laura Jones Scholarship (a fund I have always supported). That was also supporting education. I gave an extra $100 - match completed - but still could not see what to do with the original money.
I began to lose focus. I wasn’t thinking as much about my God money. It was still in my wallet but it was getting lost. Then the lightning bolt hit.
Last Friday one of my co-workers casually mentioned she gave her daughter $5 but she still did not have enough to buy the book she wanted at the book fair. Boom! Book fairs were going on now! Right here in Macon County! God wasn’t letting me forget. Another co-worker said her school had already had their book fair and I panicked. It was too late. I had procrastinated and I was going to be in trouble. Wailing…. Gnashing….Teeth…
But I went out on Macon County School’s website and looked up East Franklin Elementary, the school where all three of my children went. It was the place where they learned to love reading and the very site of many book fairs where they NEVER had enough to buy all the books they wanted (we have a lot of books in my house). I looked for the phone number.
And right there on the website was a little announcement that the Scholastic Book Fair would be coming Friday, October 27th. Boom! More lightning! Thunder! I looked for a contact and discovered the media coordinator was Lynda Elliott, a dear friend from the past whose family had joined us in Scouting for many years. Our boys grew up together. Lynda and Dewey were great people with strong Christian values. Woah!!! Are you kidding me? I had no idea Lynda even worked there. Do you realize how perfectly this was coming together? There was no doubt in my mind now… God has this planned.
I emailed Lynda and told her I would like to donate to the book fair. I explained the Kingdom Assignment and all of the interventions that had led to this moment. She was excited to learn I had looked online and said she was so glad she had put the announcement out there. She almost didn’t but by now we know better. It wasn’t even a surprise to hear her say that. Of course she agreed to help. How could she not? God has this planned…
So mine (and my husband’s because he really liked the idea too) God money will be used to help children buy books at East Franklin’s Book Fair. Maybe a student will be a dollar short. Maybe another won’t bring any money from home. Maybe there isn’t any money for a book fair. Lynda will help all of them until the funds are gone. This will help a lot of children! Although it will all be done anonymously, I wish I could see their faces when she tells them it will be ok if they are short a quarter.
I will have to step up my contributions to the Laura Jones Scholarship until I match my husband's God money but we have 30 days to get that done. Plenty of time. I know God has this planned…
I can see so clearly now. I realize how foolish it was to worry. There were so many parts and pieces to this Kingdom Assignment and they all fell perfectly into place. Right when they were supposed to. The seeds first planted…the worries…the dead ends… they were part of the process but in the end, it was perfect. My coworker… the website… Lynda… I know God knew exactly how this would work out. My faith journey? I’m more confident than ever in it. There will be times when things look bad. There will be dead ends and worries. But in the end, it will be exactly as it should be. Perfect. I know more than ever…God has this planned….
Week 8 (October 18, 2017)
This week, I'd like to share a letter:
$100. Give it away.
That should be the easiest thing on Earth to do, right?
When the money comes with the caveat that it’s God’s money and should be used to further His kingdom, that task can become overwhelming.
Sure there are a lot of organizations out there doing God’s work that are deserving of His money.
I could drop the $100 in an envelope, match it with another $100 and move on with my life. That would be easy for me.
But it was that second line, the part about furthering God’s kingdom that made the assignment more complicated.
I’m a private person with a public life so I struggle, daily. Stepping outside my close-knit circle of family and friends is not a comfortable place for me.
I can talk about church, quote a Bible verse, say a prayer in public, and talk about God’s love.
What I struggle with is talking about faith and how the God I know has impacted my life in a personal way. How, for me, being a part of God’s kingdom and following Jesus is difficult and complicated. How I struggle to reconcile anger and hurt with love and grace. How hard it is to forgive and move forward without looking back. How accepting God’s love, grace and forgiveness is an on-going journey. And how that journey is often filled with three steps forward and two steps back.
And in the midst of all this, there is a $100 bill in my wallet.
God’s money. To further His kingdom.
Giving away $100 suddenly became very difficult.
It took six weeks and help from friends to complete my Kingdom assignment.
Along the way I had the opportunity to share the project with others, to pull them in to the idea of making a small little corner of two young children’s world a little brighter.
I’d like to think the Kingdom assignment is finished, completed, behind me. But it was never really about one task, one time. It was a reminder that faith is an on-going journey that starts and ends with love and grace and the willingness to live in God’s kingdom, here, on Earth.
Week 7 (October 10, 2017)
“I feel like God was trying to get me to understand that this was just the beginning of the assignment…”
If you’ve already “completed” donating your God money, do you feel like it is a task now checked off your to-do list, or is it still speaking to you?
Today’s story is from a member who is still hearing from God, even after she had donated her Kingdom Assignment money. I invite you to hear April Innis’ story and reflect on how the Assignment may end up being more powerful in the coming months than it is right now.
The Kingdom Assignment was quite a surprise. One that makes you see things a little differently.
I had a hard time trying to figure out what to do with this gift. I was so afraid of being like the servant who buried the master’s coins. I couldn't think of anything on my own, so I prayed. At the time of the Assignment, Hurricane Irma had flooded Houston. My oldest daughter and I thought about it and we felt compelled to use our gift for the city where so many were hurting. I wanted to make the gift go further or multiply so I donated it to the Red Cross through Google, who offered to match donations.
I felt good that we had done this, but I still didn't feel that I did enough, or maybe I jumped too soon and I should have used the gift differently, especially when I heard of how some other members had used their gift. I thought, "Why didn’t I think of that! " Then I feel like God was trying to get me to understand that this was just the beginning of the assignment; that even though I had already given what was given to me that morning at church, it didn't mean that I couldn't keep giving of what God had given to me. So, I started seeing other opportunities to give or other situations where help was needed. One example was a company that helps provide insulin and other diabetes management supplies to areas affected by natural disasters or war or poverty. I thought of my 4-year old who can't survive without these things and how would we care for her if we lost everything. I have more ideas in the works as well. I hope to keep this going.
So, in a way, even though my initial gift wasn't very creative or original, I feel like the gift has been multiplied because it has inspired me to constantly seek opportunities to give.
I am grateful to FUMC for this opportunity. It was a valuable lesson and a needed wake up call.
April Innis and family
Week 6 (October 3, 2017)
I was driving into town yesterday and saw a member of FUMC putting bags of groceries into the Franklin Little Pantry, located in front of Ace Hardware. I won’t mention her name because I didn’t ask permission to write about her; in fact, she didn’t even see me. She wasn’t looking around to see who observed her doing a good deed; instead, she was quietly extending God’s Kingdom without fanfare, praise or a clap on the back.
That 30-second witness of character was so moving to me. While David has asked us to report back on our Kingdom Assignment, we all know it’s not for bragging rights. Sometimes, the best moments are ones done quietly. Turning in your own story may feel weird and self-congratulatory. But his request isn’t about showing everyone how wonderful we all are. David’s intent is to help us all see the unique ways in which God’s Kingdom is being extended into the world, and help us to think of other ways we can make a difference once this assignment’s over.
I wonder if that woman’s actions would have felt so moving to me if this Kingdom Assignment didn’t happen. I’m going to think about that….after I head to grocery store. I have a Little Pantry to fill.
Week 5 (September 27, 2017)
I was with friends last night and talk eventually turned to the Kingdom Assignment; something that I’ve noticed happens a lot when I’m around other church members.
It’s been almost a month since David gave us “God’s money” and, while hearing reports on how the money is being used has been great, what I most love about this challenge has been seeing an increase in chatter about faith, love, and how it’s changing our daily perceptions about helping others.
It’s also been a good study in personality. As my friend said last night, “How God is using us individually is so unique; even in how we’re making the decision to spend His money – whether we’re contemplating for weeks or taking action immediately – is a testament to how different we all are.”
But what’s cool is that NONE OF IT IS WRONG. If you are making decisions in a thoughtful, prayerful way, you are honoring God. Don’t feel guilty that someone next to you in the pew is “doing it better.” Don’t feel less worthy because you chose to help one individual, rather than a huge group. Don’t judge how God is working in your life with this project. Instead, be thankful that God made you unique, to fulfill this Kingdom Assignment the way that only YOU can.
Philippians 2:13 For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Week 4 (September 19, 2017):
Sometimes, Kingdom Assignment moments can happen when you least expect it. While we pray for guidance (and, dare I say, CONTROL over the situation?), God is already making plans to use us in ways that are meaningful to both strangers and friends.
This week’s story comes from someone who was originally hesitant to share her name - her experience was that personal to her. But, as Mary Lynne Spivey told me, she hoped it may help someone else on their journey. Mary Lynne’s experience came in two parts; one includes strangers; the second showed the love of friends. Was God more pleased with one over the other? Or do you think He was just glad she put His love into action? I’ll let you decide. Read Mary Lynne’s story here.
Week 3 (September 12, 2017):
Wes Hirsch handed me a typed piece of paper Sunday that he said had "something" to do with the Kingdom Assignment.
I was intrigued.
I love Wes; I lovehis sermons, insights, questions, and faith journey. So I couldn't wait to read how he was responding - in what I was sure was in a faithful, Godly way that most would expect from a proper retired minister.
Turns out, it wasn't about his response, but God's response to Wes.
Week 2 (September 6, 2017):
Week two of the Kingdom Assignment and I'll be honest - I'm stumped. My $100 sits in a jar at home, ready for action.
I'm praying for direction. And I see so many places where help is needed. Macon County school kids. Someone in the hospital struggling with their bills. Hurricane Harvey (and now, potentially, Irma) victims. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
I've heard some great ideas people are thinking up; ways in which they are using their gifts of sewing, cooking, photography, music, etc to raise more money. Some of you are pooling together with other members to make a bigger impact. Still others are worried - worried that they are doing this wrong; that if they can't double their gift they are failing.
Don't worry. Don't dismay. This gift was inteneded to help us all grow spiritually and spread the Kingdom, not be a burden. Whatever you choose to do should be done in the spirit of generosity and love. That may mean splashy, headline - grabbing ideas for some, but it also can mean in a quiet, pay-it-forward-type way that still makes an impact to the life you helped.
Continue to pray for direction and, if you need help, contact our ministers for guidance. And when you're ready to tell your story, let me know! Big or small, they each have a purpose.
Week 1 (August 28, 2017):
What a day at FUMC Franklin Sunday! Were you surprised? Did you wonder if Pastor David had lost his mind?
Three hundred people. One hundred dollars each.
Can you imagine the impact this could make inour community? Is it overwhelming? It is for me. Our family, which includes our 10-year old daughter and 8-year old son, talked about it a lot Sunday afternoon. My son thought God might want him to buy that Lego set he has been wanting for a long time. Clearly, we need to work on the meaning of this project with him.
One place we'll be visiting to help him understand a little more is this site. As you think and pray about your plans, maybe you'll also be inspired by the stories you'll find there. Maybe it will spark an idea or invoke a passion you didn't realize was brewing in your heart.
Just remember David's three rules:
1- This is God's money.
2- Use the money to somehow further the work of the Kingdom of God
3- return 90 days later (Sunday Novemeber 26) and report the results.
What will you do with what you have been given?
In 2013 FUMC took a close look at our relationship with God and how He is leading us to share His love with people in our communities and globally through our connectivity with the United Methodist Church. Following a path, inspired by God, we adopt the DARE mission:
DARE TO TRUST. LOVE. SHARE. SERVE.
As we live out this mission we invite you to join us in finding opportunities to serve others and grow in faith.