Welcome back! This is the second column on giving. The intent of the column is to help faith communities with structuring and running pledge drives.
I often think about pledge drives as having two large components:
1) understanding why we give and
2) the specific tactics for running a pledge drive.
In this column, the focus will be on why we give, and in subsequent columns the focus will be on specific tactics.
We often struggle to talk constructively about giving. In the absence of training or education about why we give we can find it difficult to share with others reasons for giving, even when we ourselves routinely give and pledge.
Stewardship is naturally a part of our lives. The Genesis story tells us that we are given dominion over the earth, and in return we must be good stewards of it. Our relationship with God is defined early – we are given all things by God and we are expected to manage those gifts as God would have us do.
I believe this is reflected in the impulse to give that most of us have and act on. Most members of our faith communities (and those outside them) want to give. If we got to the end of year and realized we had not yet given ourselves in mission or our money in support of mission we would feel we had missed an opportunity. This need to give is so deeply embedded in so many of us that I believe it is almost an instinctual response to God and God’s many great gifts to us.
But God knows we need to be challenged to be our best selves and God has repeatedly set the tithe as the standard and goal for our giving. You don’t have to tell me that tithing is difficult, I struggle with it and have only gotten close a few times. But I know that is where God is calling me. God will not love us any more or any less if we do or do not tithe. But when we want to become the person God is calling us to be, we will strive for it and reach it, just as we might hope and pray for one of our children to become the person we believe they can be.
As someone who has run a number of pledge drives, I have often looked for sources of inspiration for giving. The weekly lessons and Gospels are my best go-to resource. Just a few weeks ago we heard in Acts 2:42-47; “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.” The way we manage our money in church is still a reflection of that model – we give as we can and the Body of Christ makes decisions about how to allocate those funds. Unlike the secular world where we make and spend on our own, in our faith community we are expected to live as one body where we give collectively and share collectively of what is given.
I hope this has been helpful, I would like to serve as a resource on giving and pledge drives to anyone who is interested. In the next three or four columns we will talk about the other major aspect of pledge drives, the actual tactics of executing in a manner that builds community while leaving no stone unturned.
Many of us have run or been a part of pledge drives and you have seen them at their best and worst. Let’s talk about it! We have a chance to build a future of giving in our faith communities where our relationship with God becomes deeper and more joyful. If you have a story or question to share please send them to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (952) 457-8660. The answers to our giving challenges are out there. They can be found in listening to God and in the experiences and knowledge already in our congregations and faith communities.