Stewardship Information Month, week 2
Fr. Cunningham kicked off Stewardship Information Month with his article in the October Trinity Times. The month will culminate with our annual pledge in-gathering on Sunday, November 3. The following questions and answers have been compiled to help you be well informed as you participate in the process.
Q: What is a pledge?
A: For our purposes we use the word “pledge” in the context of our annual pledge in-gathering as, “your good-faith estimate of your ordinary tithes and offerings for the upcoming year.” What you write on your pledge card as your estimate will be kept strictly confidential. Only the treasurer and the bookkeeper will ever know those specifics.
Q: Why do we ask for pledges?
A: We ask for pledges for two reasons. The most obvious reason we collect pledges is to provide a source of data to help estimate the church’s income for next year’s budget. Asking for your estimated giving is one of the things we do to practice good stewardship of your offerings. Second, the period of the “pledge drive” provides a framework for discussing the church’s finances with the congregation.
Q: Why do we need to talk about money?
A: On one hand, the church operates a lot like a large household. We have income, expenses, possibly debt, and we try to save something for a rainy day and larger planned and as well as unplanned expenses. You will be pleased to know that we have no debt. On the other hand, unlike an ordinary household, our sole source of income is your weekly tithes and offerings. Our expenses in some categories are also dramatically larger than most households because of the scope of our facilities and our calling. One of the upcoming articles this month will outline our financial projections for next year.
Q: Isn’t money the root of all evil?
A: The Apostle Paul wrote to his young co-worker, Timothy, that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (ESV 1 Timothy 6:10), warning about harmful cravings for money. This is often quoted out of context. Money is not intrinsically evil. It could be said that money is the fuel behind our ministry.
Q: What if I’m unable to be present on November 3 to submit my pledge?
A: After November 3, pledge cards may be dropped off at the church office. We will also provide an opportunity to submit pledge cards on Sunday, November 10. Shortly after November 10, we will mail pledge cards along with an informative letter to those persons known to us who have not yet submitted pledge cards. And then we will consider the pledge in-gathering over for the upcoming year.
Q: I want to start tithing but I find that my monthly expenses already exceed my income. What should I do?
A: The apostle Paul wrote the church at Corinth, Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7, ESV) That’s a good guide to use while working to bring financial realities into alignment with where the heart has already arrived.
For most people, a sudden decrease in income or an increase in expenses will require some adjustment over time. A wise mentor once told me, “our needs expand to meet our means.” Without a plan, there will not normally be much left over.
Planning and keeping a budget will often help. That way church offerings can be included along with other off-the-top items such as rent, electricity, insurance, taxes, paying off debts and so on. If the numbers still won’t work, then think long term, perhaps years. If you could use some help developing a budget, please ask.
Q: I am retired and live largely off of my savings. How does the tithe relate to my situation?
A: This is a very interesting question. What has been revealed to us in the Bible about tithing comes through the laws given to a largely agrarian and sometimes nomadic people. Retirement, as we think of it today, did not exist. The question does not have a simple mathematical answer, but asking the question shows that the heart is right. Factors that might come into play in deriving a “tithe equivalent” might include:
Were tithes given on the money saved and on the interest earned? If so, no tithes remain and all further giving is a love offering.
What is God revealing to you?
Sometimes people simply give more generously as they grow older. As people grow older, God has had more time to influence the state of their inner spirit.
Q: I have other questions. Can you help?
A: You are encouraged to submit your own questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting the church office. Personal questions will be kept confidential.
~ Andy Figueroa
For further reading, you might find this article helpful: The Truth About Tithing.