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Stewardship

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?

Comments

Christopher said…
In my 1 year of pastoral ministry, I have yet to ask a single dime in pledge. I even cringe at the offering. But I like the idea of the self-addressed envelope.
Unknown said…
I can just hear it now:

But how will people keep track of their own giving? How will we know we have enough to meet our budget?

In my first two years at my church, the truth of the matter is that our current pledge process is consistently 20-30k behind budget anyway.

This sounds like a great idea and I think I'll push for it this year.
Anonymous said…
Hi Beth,
Did I work with you on a college women's task force with the Women's Division years ago? It's Cheryl Hemmerle with United Methodist Communications (now) in Nashville, Tennessee. Thanks for using the Sharing God's Gifts logo on your Blog. I'm just putting the finishing touches on our Connectional Giving course to debut in late September or early October. Thanks for your questions about giving and stewardship.
Beth Quick said…
Hi Cheryl - Yes! It is me! UMCom, eh? Hope you are enjoying that - I was in Nashville not too long ago for the Festival of Homiletics. I'll have to stop in and say hello next time I'm down!
Anonymous said…
Long ago I stopped asking for pledges. But I did start something different.

When it's time for the Offertory Sentences I tell a story about something the money does. I might tell them about a homeless person that got a handout from the church the week before, or a family we helped. Or I'll get a story of the UMC website and maybe tell about a seminary student, making the point that church helped him/her get through school by giving to the Ministerial Education Fund. I'll conclude with something like, "So the money you're going to put in this plate will not just pay the light bill, it will touch a life.

Everywhere I've used this consistently fifty-two weeks a year, it's increased the giving.
Anonymous said…
I served New Sharon UMC (Iowa) 15 years. When we asked for pledges people gave grudgingly and we did increase giving, and barely met the budget. But what really changed things was when we dispensed with pledging altogether and talked about tithing at all levels of the church--Sunday School, young adult small groups, etc, together with small groups on money managament. We ended each year with a $10,000 to $20,000 surplus in giving. Our budget went from $60,000 to $300,000. Our apportionments went up the maximum 10% (Iowa annual conference) every year and still we had $10--20,000 surpluses. Tithing is Biblical, and works. We had people give testimonies about how it changed their life, and how God provided. Dump pledging, talk about tithing. We did on every level twice a year. Have your leaders cover it in prayer, preach it from the pulpit. It was amazing what happened.

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