As the seasons change and the air grows crisp and cool, we are reminded that life and the church have their seasons, too. Baptisms and funerals, friendships and marriages, work and retirement, in church we experience the different seasons of life – whether they bring illness, sorrow, anger, and loss or health, joy, love and peace. Stewardship season at Westminster is a time to reflect on the blessings we have received and how we can respond to that blessing through our gifts.
This year we have aspirational stewardship goals:
100% membership participation in pledging
A goal of a 4% gift as a percentage of income
A total pledge amount of $240,000
Let’s look at each of these goals in turn.
Our goal of 100% membership participation reflects an understanding of membership as participation in all aspects of the church. Giving is measure of commitment. Not that the biggest givers are the most committed, but that we each give as we are able. We ask every member to give $1 to symbolically share in the support of the church. Of course we need you to give more if you are able, but giving a single dollar makes a difference in achieving our goal of 100% participation. We are all in this together and that $1 pledge is valued as a sign of our mutual commitment to our shared ministry.
Our goal of giving 4% of income as a target gift amount reflects the national average for churches with healthy ministries. Giving is a measure of spiritual health. If every member of the congregation gave 4% of their income we would be amazed at the abundance. Our church does lots of good in the world -- from Albany to Africa. The measure of our efforts doesn’t just lie in our works outside the walls, however, as we also need to tend to our member’s spiritual health. Why wouldn’t you give 4%? Is it because you fear that you will need the money for other uses? Do you fear that God’s Providence will somehow skip over you in the future so you have to hoard your blessings of today? All that we have, all that we earn, all that we have ever been blessed with comes to us as a gift from God. Giving 4% of our income back to God still leaves 96% for our own purposes. Can you see how the goal of 4% giving is tied to spiritual health?
Our goal of raising $240,000 in total pledges while simultaneously raising $500,000 in capital campaign funds looks dauntingly ambitious. Yet the resources are here within our community. With 380 members and other friends not on the rolls we have the ability to give at this level. Yes, it is more than we have given in the past. However, it roughly equals $12 per member per week, less than $2 per member per day. Can we give this? Yes, we can!
Arthur Fullerton is a Ruling Elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany, NY, past chair of Board of Trustees, current chair of the Budget Committee, and Vice Moderator elect of Albany Presbytery. He consults with nonprofits about fundraising and organizational leadership. You can reach Arthur by email firstname.lastname@example.org.