Numbers never tell the whole story.  At the same time, numbers (or metrics) do offer critical insight that must not be ignored.  One yearly numbers (or metrics) ritual in the United Methodist Church is a year-end close out of Connectional Mission Giving.  It is an important mile-post in our collective understanding of covenant with one another and our missional responsibility with the larger church. I vastly prefer the language of Connection Mission Giving or CMG to the old tired label of apportionments.  Apportionments sound like taxes; and who likes taxes?!  In reality, the year-end payout is a witness to our missional generosity, our wider connection in serving the Lord Jesus Christ and the “least of this my brothers and sisters” (Matthew 25:40).  These financial resources are used both locally and globally.  Places like West, Cleburne and Granbury benefited directly in tornado relief because of our great missional generosity.  Future pastors were educated in seminaries and children live today in America and Africa because of CMG.  (As a rough formula approximately 60% of a local church’s CMG goes to missional outreach through the church both locally and globally.  The remaining 40% goes to pay for what a business person would call “overhead.”  It is worth noting that the so called non-denominational churches spend a similar amount in overhead though in a different way.) Link the above brief explanation of CMG with one of the basic elements of Christian discipleship – extravagant generosity.  In our vows as Methodist Christians, we commit to serve the Lord and His church through our gifts, our stewardship of our resources.  In numerous ways Jesus himself stresses the importance of such faithfulness with our gifts. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24). So how did we, The Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, do in 2013 in missional generosity?  At this point the report is only preliminary but the metrics tell a story of outstanding missional generosity! Overall “payout to CMG” went up 4.08%.  This represents an increase of $188,712.  Outstanding!  Well done thou good and faithful servants! According to David Stinson, Comptroller/Treasurer of the Central Texas Conference, pay out by the numbers consists of the following data for CMG: 97.23% Paid in CMG in 2013 93.15% Paid in CMG in 2012 269 Churches Paid 100% in 2013 257 Churches Paid 100% in 2012 30 Churches Paid Less than 100% in 2013 40 Churches Paid Less than 100% in 2012 20 Churches Paid 100% in 2013 but not in 2012 10 Churches Paid 100% in 2012 but not in 2013 247 Churches Paid 100% in 2013 and in 2012 209 Churches Paid 100% in 2013 and in each of the previous 5 years 185 Churches Paid 100% in 2013 and in each of the previous 10 years (Those who are into careful counting and analysis will discover that the number of churches reported does not match the number of churches in the Conference.  This is because a few churches have not yet filed a report; additionally, this report is preliminary and needs refinement.  Still it is essentially accurate and represents a great increase!  We hope to reach 100% to the General Church when all the work is completed.) I am proud to be the Bishop of The Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Great is our faithfulness in Connectional Mission Giving!  Again I stress, well done thou good and faithful servants of the Lord!