I've just finished reading Power Surge by Michael Foss, which I'll review later. Foss talks at one point about stewardship and giving in his congregation.
He writes, "We no longer ask for annual pledges. We have come to believe that the Holy Spirit will guide the giving of those who have heard of God's generosity and are open to the teaching of God's Word. So we encourage people to prepare a giving plan - one that only they and God know about. When the plan is completed, we ask them to seal it in a self-addressed, stamped envelope. On a given Sunday, the people process to the altar and leave their giving plans there, in sealed envelopes, before God and the congregation. In a few weeks, we send them back, unopened, to our worshipers. We have no idea what will be giving in the coming year." (pg 104) Foss' church has found this practice to increase giving.
I really like this idea of sending the pledges back to the worshipers, and I'm very intrigued by this idea. But what do you think of the not-asking for pledges? I understand that Franklin Lakes UMC, where I will begin as pastor September 1st, has been having conversations around these very issues. Does pledging help or hinder financial stewardship in congregations? What's the practice in your congregation? Is your giving between only you and God? What models of pledging have you tried? What would encourage you to give more?