It is stewardship season, and I know that people sometimes get tired of hearing about giving money. For those of you who have been taking note and giving for many years, what I am saying is not new. There is a lot of understand about the financial realities of a church like ours. Some of us are newer to the process though, and I want to provide some helpful information as we grow in giving. I always appreciate feedback about whether this is helpful.
By the way, I do not like “asking for money.” I do like “inviting generosity,” because generosity is joyful and life-giving. Generosity is a way that we connect with God, who is generous beyond imagining.
Our campaign goal is that 75% of our households will pledge for 2017. Last year we set a record with 70% (378 households). Participation in pledging is more important than the amount pledged. At the same time, in order to accommodate the growth we have experienced and the realities of life in a vibrant parish such as St. George’s, we need some growth in our offerings.
We have lots of ministry dreams. One of my dreams is to grow our income (right now our budget is just over $1 million) to a point where we can adequately compensate our staff and have enough staff to enable and empower the ministry we all want to do together. A big portion of our budget is spent on personnel. In a large church like ours, staff are essential. By investing in staff, we are investing in the ministry of the whole. For several years, St. George’s has gotten by with a staffing arrangement in which some staff are not paid, some are not paid enough, and all have more than enough to do. I feel fortunate to be leading a staff team that is willing to make big sacrifices to do the work they love. I would like to invest more in staff so that our ministries can continue to flourish. I’d like to hire a part-time priest so that we can give more clergy attention to pastoral care. I’d like to hire a part-time youth ministry staffer, so that clergy can focus less on logistical details and have more time to help equip youth and adults for youth ministry. These additions will require an increase in giving.
As you contemplate what you may offer in 2017, ask yourself, “Am I giving as much as I believe I can?” I can only guess at the average income level in our parish. The average pledge was $2393 in 2016. If every household in the parish gave 5% of their income, we would probably have much more than we need. The Biblical standard of the tithe (10%) may not be realistic, but there can be great joy in working toward it.
There’s more to say, and I’ll offer a few more posts along the way between now and October 21 when we hope to have all the pledge cards returned. Thanks for being generous listeners and generous givers.