Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16
We want you to know brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints -- and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the LORD and then by the will of God to us...For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness." 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 & 13-15
I love that the United Methodist Church is connectional. I love that we share pastors and prayers, stories and mission. I like that we share in the triumphs of churches half way around the world and we share in trials of our brothers and sisters in Diecke in Guinea Africa. That is the way the early church worked -- holding the need before the whole and then figuring out how God inviting the church to respond to need.
That's why my tiny brain is occasionally confused by the working of United Methodist Churches in the United States of America where we run our churches, not by assuming that all "our" resources belongs to God and trying to figure out how much we need to keep for our local needs. But rather by assuming that if someone in "our pew" gave money it's "our money." It is, of course, a reflection of the wider American culture which tells us constantly that if we have something it belongs to us. We had the smarts to earn that money (no one is asking who gave us the smarts). We had the work ethic that helped us succeed (no one is asking the question what might it look like if we had been born without legs).
My brain is tiny enough that I think that everything that we have belongs to God. All of our money, all of our cars, all of our inheritance, all of our energy, all of our passion. And that God can be trusted to make sure that we get what we need. We don't have to watch our backs, God has our backs. We need to remember who the Author of Life is -- who gave us everything we have. When I hear people complain about apportionments ("a portion meant for others") saying that they don't want to send "their money" to other places it makes me think that we have failed spectacularly. When one of the churches in our district can employ multiple pastors because they have the financial means to do so but it doesn't occur to them to wonder about the church across town that doesn't have the means but does have the needs.
I once heard Peter Story (former Bishop of South Africa) speak. He told the story of his son, a pastor in South Africa, who went from being a pastor of a large church in an influential part of town to being the pastor of a church in the ghettos of Soweto. He had met another Methodist pastor and they had decided to switch pulpits every six months. Six months with your family living in plenty (perhaps excess) and six months with your family living in the ghetto. That kind of commitment to the gospel would change how we fell about the ghettos and how we feel about the "safe secure" places to live. That kind of commitment was criticized by his son's white friends, "how can you do that to your children?" Perhaps the bigger question is why can any of us stand to let any of God's children live in the ghetto?
I don't have an answer to the bigger question of how to eliminate "pay as you go" churches in the United States and get back to an early church model of actually only keeping what you need and sending everything else out. Part of the reason why it's difficult for me to imagine a solution is that I think we are mistaken about what we "need." But I do appreciate knowing that some Methodists have figured out part of the puzzle. The reason is was easier for Peter Story's son to switch pulpits is because ALL Methodist pastors in South Africa are paid the same amount. There is no "pay as you go" with respect to clergy in South Africa. They are walking the "connectionalism" talk in that way. I do know that it is something that I get to continue to pray about and think about and dream about.