Take Pledge Card, Write Big Number, Move On.

Dear Sharing Stewards:

This year I asked our Session and committee moderators to prepare their budgets before we moved forward with our stewardship campaign. In previous years we’ve asked for your pledges first and then struggled to fit a budget into that amount. Some of you remember the days when Session returned to the congregation asking for a second round of pledges because they were not comfortable trimming expenditures to match projected giving; records indicate that a few generous souls met the challenge, and the year moved forward. For 2019, I was thinking we could use the budget to inspire our pledging; but after 30 years, I must confess, I’ve no idea what works. 

Perhaps my biggest mistake has been the assumption that honesty is the best policy and people respond to clear information. I’ve used charts and graphs to explain what can and cannot happen depending on the benevolence of our members. I’ve held listening meetings--for the past two years, Dani and I (well, mostly Dani) made dinners over which we talked about FPCLG’s history and vision. I’ve worked with committees that colored graduated thermometers or little bricks in a growing wall. I’ve preached sermons about how God has given and we must share, and how our future possibilities are driven by our current generosities. To some degree all of it worked--every church I’ve served has figured out how to pay its bills. But to another degree it’s failed--I’ve yet to serve a congregation that exceeded its stewardship expectations. Therein I find my ambivalence. What in God’s name do we expect?

If you haven’t noticed, I’m obsessed with reclaiming the offering time in our Sunday services as an act of worship; it is our response to God’s Word, a response that may or may not include money. Generosity should flow from the Good News of grace, but, as I have frequently mentioned, generosity comes in many forms. In the post-sermon moment, a musical interlude affords us the opportunity to reflect on how we will live our generosity in the coming week, a reverie I refuse to clutter with appeals to pay the bills or build an addition. That message screams, "God has given freely, so you better pay up!"

This year I’m approaching stewardship season with a different attitude. In the next two weeks you’re going to get a brochure with a pledge card and some information about our proposed 2019 budget. Our stewardship theme, inspired by our Gabriel Loire stained glass window, is “Reflecting the Light”. On November 4 and 11 there will be a presentation about the window’s artist and history. I find the piece inspiring; I hope you do too. 

If you need additional information regarding contributions and expenditures, it’s always available. I will guarantee this: an increase in pledging will result in an expansion of ministry programming and a continuation of facility upgrades. If pledging remains the same, we’ll have the same. If pledging drops, I’m clearly wrong about this and we’ll do less. Please, don’t make me pull out the thermometer.  

Already satisfied with your honest best, I remain,

With Love,
Jonathan Krogh
Your Pastor