Having a good question makes all the difference. Too often we frame things in an either/or way. Will I pledge money to the church’s budget next year, OR will I give as I can? Will I increase my pledge OR will it stay the same? Either/or thinking limits our possibilities.
I would like to suggest this question to help frame our discernment about “Giving as One and Growing as One”: “How am I called to give?” Giving to the church is a response to God’s abundant gifts of grace and God’s call for us to live life abundantly. It’s a way to give thanks as well as support our mission and ministry together. How is God calling you to give thanks? Is making a faithful pledge to offer your money to God on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly basis part of what will help you grow in your relationship with God? Making a commitment ahead of time, whether it’s to give, to pray, to serve in some way, might be part of how you are led to grow. If you are pledging already, maybe you are called to stretch and increase the pledge as a sign of growing faith and love.
On a practical level, pledges are very helpful to the church. Even though there is no guarantee that people will give what they pledge, they do help us know what we can hope to receive in the coming year. That helps us form a budget, set goals, etc. I’d like to hire some additional part-time clergy and staff in 2017. If I know ahead of time that people are giving more than last year, I might feel better about taking the leap of faith to offer someone a job. So we certainly would appreciate your pledges from that practical point of view.
As pastor of this congregation though, I’m more interested in your relationship with God than I am in the bottom line of the church budget. If you are trying to decide whether or not to pledge in 2017, whether or not to increase your pledge…start by looking at your life, the blessings you receive, the ways that you’d like to grow as a person and as a member of a community. How is God calling you to give? Then make your offering as a sign of giving and growing as one person who is a part of our one giving and growing community.