2018 Stewardship - All Saints Pot-luck – 11/4/18
Good Afternoon! and thank you for allowing me a few minutes to highlight a couple of points about this year’s Stewardship effort.
Most of you already know that November is traditionally Stewardship month at First Pres and this year is no exception. Now I know that Stewardship does not rank up there with Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Deer Hunting on your personal-enjoyment scale. But, it is an important event in the life of the church because it provides the Trustees with an indication of how much we can spend next year and whether the budget we approved for next year is reasonable and realistic. In that regard, it is more like Election Day in that it is simultaneously a privilege and a duty.
This year’s theme is “Believe and support the mission of FPCF”. Ben Oliver’s stirring message this morning should have been a strong indicator that the Stewardship effort has started. For the next 3 Sunday’s you can look forward to similar testimonies demonstrating how First Pres is positively and directly impacting the lives and the spiritual journeys of individuals and families. Early next week you should receive a letter from Pastor Joseph and around mid-month another letter from me along with your Estimate of Giving card (what we used to call a pledge card) and a tri-fold of supporting facts and figures. The Stewardship effort culminates on Christ the King Sunday, Nov. 28thwhen we will bless and dedicate our Estimates of Giving to the Glory of God.
That’s it in a nutshell; but, as one of my favorite bosses used to ask.. So What?
Well, this morning’s service gives us three compelling reasons to put First Pres. high on our list of annual giving and pledging.
FIRST, the service demonstrated how blessed we are to have the cohesive, talented, dedicated, hard-working, knowledgeable staff that we enjoy. The staff that continues to work hard every day to keep Fourth Street and Saginaw as an epicenter for advancing God’s kingdom into our neighborhood, the Flint community and the world.
SECOND, this morning’s baptism reminded us of our commitment and our responsibility to provide the facilities and the nurturing and support to help the recently-baptized to learn and grow and thrive as Christians.
THIRD, Ben’s message presented tangible evidence that our church family is having a real, life-transforming impact on people we know and care about.
God’s grace abounds at First Pres and we need to respond with gratitude and joyful giving.
It is very fitting that we review this year’s Stewardship efforts on the day we remember the saints that went before us. A few weeks ago, you’ll remember the narrative lectionary was focused on Joshua. Joshua was addressing the tribes of Israel before his death and he reminded them that they were living in houses and towns they did not build and they were eating fruit from vineyards and orchards they did not plant. From a financial perspective, we find our church in a similar situation. Of the $1.69 million budget for next year, we are anticipating roughly $900,000 or 54% coming from the membership in the form of pledged giving. Stop and think about that for a second. A little over half of the money needed to operate this church on an annual basis comes from the membership and the other half comes from the endowments from those who came before us. So, like the Israelites, we worship in a sanctuary we did not build and to a great extent live off the fruits of the many saints that went before us that bequeathed money to the church. While that does not make us unique. It puts us into a pretty enviable position compared to other churches and we need to continually remind ourselves how truly blessed we are.
So, we find ourselves with the half full / half empty conundrum. On one hand we are bountifully blessed, and we are instructed to place our trust and confidence in God to continue to provide. On the other hand, we are responsible for generating nearly $1million annually so that we can continue to provide the myriad of programs and activities that help our community and, in the process, fortifies our personal and corporate efforts to be more Christ-like. And, simultaneously, we need to protect and sustain the legacy gift we’ve been given to assure that future generations can enjoy the same sense of financial security that we enjoy.
Now, I know I’m “Barking At The Choir” to use a phrase borrowed from Father Gregory Boyle. What I’m asking from you today, is to talk positively about our Stewardship efforts throughout this month to those who are not in this room. God’s spirit is moving through this church but collectively, we must do our part to keep the trajectory on track and the momentum that is building moving the right direction. And remember, Stewardship is not humanity’s way of raising funds for God, it is God’s way of raising humanity to a greater likeness of His Son.