Monday, September 13, 2004

Stewardship Campaigns - God and Money

This week as the gospel lesson in the lectionary has us reading the fascinating and perplexing Luke 16:1-13, where we read that we cannot serve two masters, God and wealth, my mind is turned to the Stewardship Campaign that gets underway in my congregation in November every year. In the United Methodist Church, local churches make a commitment to pay apportionments, money that supports ministries beyond our local church walls. We at St. Paul's have a hard time making these payments - we pay our own bills first, and by the time we get to our apportionments, we usually only scrape out about 50% of what we owe. I hate this fact! I wish we paid 100% every year. But, of course, that means people have to give more money! This past year, the first I completed at a pastor, was the first year I ever pledged in my life, and the first year I tithed from my income. It has been hard. But I know it has been the right thing for me to do.
So, some questions for you who are involved in congregations in some form or another - do you have a successful stewardship plan that you'd like to share? As a pastor, how much do you share about your own financial giving? I've been thinking, this year, of laying my cards on the table to my congregation - this is how much I make, this is how much I give, and this is how difficult it has been for me. What makes people want to give as much to the church as they give each year to McDonalds? I've been looking for some new resources, but everything I've found seems too contrived for my personal tastes. Help! :)
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