A pastor has the power to translate God’s will into actionable items for his or her congregation. At times, it can be difficult and trying for church members to understand what God wants and expects from them, especially when it comes to generosity and stewardship.
Discussions about money complicate many situations – and church fundraising campaigns are no exception. The follow letters are one pastor’s explanation of the need to commit to and support his church’s annual stewardship drive.
Pastor’s Stewardship Letter – Week One
Dear FPC family,
Last Sunday we began our annual stewardship drive, Living the Future. Questions come to my mind, and maybe yours too: Aren’t we always living the future? What is that supposed to mean?
I think what grabbed me about this is that we aren’t often living the future. We are thinking ABOUT it, but not actually living it. I have these words etched in my brain from long ago, “A boat doesn’t sail on yesterday’s wind.” What we did yesterday is great, and past achievements should be celebrated. But we live in the present, not the past. So when we called our Stewardship Campaign Living the Future, it was a call upon us to actually live our dream.
This church has over the years called upon its members to engage in mission around the corner, and around the world. We want to be a community, a family, a place for people who are cut off and alone, and we want to foster a culture of generosity that lives with abundant care for one another and for God.
This is not something someone else does for us, it is something we do together – each and every one of us. God’s Spirit is the wind that propels our mission, but it takes the commitment of all of us to harness that energy and live it daily to make the boat that is First Presbyterian Church sail.
We all have different reasons we commit, and different things we wish to see communicated before we will commit. If there is something you are waiting for I hope you will reach out and ask me, because I’d love to sit down and talk with you about your commitment. I cannot say all that I wish to say here; already you are getting a bit bored reading this (Really, you are – even if you won’t admit it!)
So here a couple of thoughts:
One of the greatest gifts the church has is intentionality. Almost everything we do can be done elsewhere, some of it can even be done better elsewhere. But we exist to make sure it actually happens. Every day I wish I would get up and go running… but I don’t. And there is no one actively encouraging me to do so – and helping make it happen. The church is your spiritual running partner, and here you find intentionality to grow together in service and love.
This community at First Presbyterian has a yearning to do and be more. This is not a status quo church content to just live our days doing what we always have done. There is a long list of dreams: a fine arts music program to take advantage of the beautiful Sanctuary and wonderful organ, as well as strengthened mission partnerships with more dedicated giving from the budget and not simply individual families supporting individual causes. Taking our feeding ministry to the next level – meals more than once a month for the homeless and beginning to cross-pollinate those meals with our fellowship time. When I really get dreamy, I’m thinking of growing our own produce on the roof, and hiring a cook to do daily meals for the downtown community. (This one I wish we could do sooner rather than later, let’s find a way!) Imagine what all we might be able to do.
Those dreams can’t sail unless we harness the energy and make them real. There is no lack of ways for us to reach out beyond ourselves to engage our larger community in mission and ministry. But like with my dreams of going running daily, it takes commitment, encouragement, and discipline. Not just what would we like to do if it so happens that we can… but what will we commit to do because we understand it’s an essential part of who we are. We have dreams. The stewardship campaign can sound like it’s about paying for a building and staff – but it isn’t. First and foremost it’s about grabbing hold of the opportunity to make the dreams God has given us a reality.
Let’s do this, together!
Grace and Peace,
(Pastor’s name withheld)
Pastor’s Stewardship Letter – Week Two
Dear FPC family,
This Sunday is Pledge Sunday.
If you haven’t already sent in a pledge – and many of you have, thank you! – please bring your pledge card with you on Sunday to place in the offering plate as we dedicate our pledges and our lives to fulfilling what God has called us to in 2014.
Like every pastor, I’ve heard grumbles before that the church shouldn’t talk about money, or if so we should just get it over with and get on to our regular business. Fortunately, I haven’t heard those grumbles here in the year (and change) that I’ve been here… are you storing them up???
When I hear that comment I usually have two reactions. First, I think that I don’t really enjoy talking about this either so I hear what you are saying. And then secondly I think… unfortunately God seems to think it pretty important. God thinks it IS our regular business. In fact, money is one of the most reoccurring themes in scripture with over 800 references to money in various forms in the Bible. It is also the subject of much of Jesus’ teaching. (And yes, the disciples groaned and grumbled about that too!)
Why? Why does God zero in on money?
I think the answer lies in something a friend told me once long ago. She said, “Money is energy.” This quote resonates with Matthew’s Gospel when Jesus says, “Where you treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
Money is energy. We invest our money in things that we think have value. Thus it makes sense that Jesus would be an observer of the flow of money. Does the flow of our money speak of our values? I do not believe that God thinks money is evil. I think God believes it reveals our values, our interests… where our heart is.
With this in mind, I remind myself every year I pledge that I’m making a statement far beyond money. I’m making a statement of what community I’m invested in, where my energy is going, what I value. I’m pledging to the mission and ministry of God in this place. I’m pledging to make that happen with all the resources at my disposal. Money, time, energy. Because I believe this community makes a difference for good in the world, and I’ve pledged to be a part of it – of you, of us: Living the future together.
Grace and Peace,
(Pastor’s name withheld)