Legacy Ministry Training Yields a Harvest That Honors God
The Georgia United Methodist Foundation’s Legacy Ministry Training Program helps churches and church leaders establish, develop and manage long-term investment programs for sustaining vital church ministries. In this Q&A, Rev. Dr. Kevin Murriel, the former Senior Pastor of Cliftondale Church in College Park, Ga., shares the impact their new Legacy Ministry has had on this 53-year-old family of faith.
GUMF: What prompted Cliftondale Church to start thinking about legacy giving?
REV. DR. MURRIEL: After I came to the Church in June of 2015, I proposed the creation of the Cliftondale Foundation to ensure the longevity of our church, our mission, our ministry, and our legacy giving so that we have a mechanism through which people can give bequests and also so that we could accept donations from different entities that might not normally give to a church.
GUMF: What value does GUMF’s Legacy Ministry Training Program offer churches?
REV. DR. MURRIEL: As a Pastor, I would like to thank GUMF for their willingness to train and equip churches like Cliftondale to fulfill the mission and vision that God has given us. More churches need to tap into this very important resource, which has worked wonders for us. You don’t have to be a mega-church to do this. You can be a church of several hundred or several dozen people, and it can still work to sustain your ministry for years to come.
GUMF: How is Cliftondale’s Legacy Ministry helping the Church carry out its mission?
REV. DR. MURRIEL: First, this initiative has provided training opportunities for the Church. People can’t do what they don’t know, and most folks don’t know these legacy ministries exist. Secondly, we believe we must invest in the present and future growth of our church. Most of what we promote through our Legacy Giving is the implementation of significant youth and young adult programs that will tap into the next generation. Thirdly, our Foundation can take the pressure off of our administrative team by dealing with capital giving, capital campaigns, and future campuses, improvements, growth, and pastoral appointments. We are The United Methodist Church. We are connectional, and we are itinerant. I want the Church to be in a position to carry on the mission whether or not I’m here. We now have diligent and equipped servants to deal with these special matters of church growth and ministry.
GUMF: How do you define generosity?
REV. DR. MURRIEL: I define generosity as honoring God by giving back to others based on what God has given us. The way we do that is by tithing and giving through our church and also in our everyday acts of generosity. God loves a cheerful giver. People who give know that their money is going to further build the kingdom. People who don’t give can’t experience the joy of making someone else feel great.
GUMF: How has Cliftondale Church encouraged its members to give to support the Lord’s work?
REV. DR. MURRIEL: When we were launching our endowment program, I preached a sermon on generosity and how God wants to be the priority in your life. When we prioritize God, we show the Lord He can trust us with whatever He gives us. The Holy Spirit will then prompt you to ask certain questions about your life: ‘Do I have to eat out every night of the week, or can I go to the grocery store and save money by preparing healthier meals, which are better for me financially and physically? Do I need a new pair of shoes every month, or can I take what I would have spent, save a portion, and then buy someone else a pair of shoes who may not have any? Can I help that single mother in line at the grocery store whose child wants to buy candy, but she can’t afford it?’
GUMF: Have your parishioners’ attitudes toward giving changed as a result of the Legacy Ministry?
REV. DR. MURRIEL: We have discovered that people are starting to become more generous as they receive more information about stewardship, first fruits offering and honoring God with their gifts. We have tried to link stewardship to mission and worship. When the wise men come from the East with their entourage, they bring gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh and place it at the feet of Jesus. They bow down and worship the Living God with their physical presence, but they also bring something to offer. We bring our offerings as good stewards of what God had given us as an act of worship so we can carry out the mission and vision of the Church, which is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
GUMF: In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church he writes, “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow (1 Corinthians 3:7).” Why is it important we trust God to bring the increase?
REV. DR. MURRIEL: Paul understood his limitations. When we care for the resources that God has given us and trust God by faith to multiply what we have planted and watered, God has a unique way of opening up the vineyard and making things grow a hundred times over. Look at the parable of the loaves of bread and fish and how He was able to multiply that when it was put in the hands of the Lord.
GUMF: Who should consider giving to the Cliftondale Legacy Ministry?
REV. DR. MURRIEL: We want everybody to participate in this very vital ministry because no matter where you are, you can leave some kind of legacy. Our Foundation has helped to equip our members to plan for their legacy. Whenever you are crafting your will, I recommend asking yourself these questions: ‘How much has my church poured into me? What do I want to leave the Church, which has been so important in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? What type of physical legacy would I like to leave?’ I have found that people who think they are not well off financially often discover that they have a lot to leave.