My pledge card just arrived at home. Yours should come today or tomorrow. It is wrapped in images and information that tell the story of our ministry at First Congregational, Darien. When yours arrives, place it prominently, where you’ll see it. Do so because you’ll need it this Sunday. Do so because I want you to ponder and pray over the many ministries you will support in 2014.
Last Sunday I lifted up the challenges we must face to enter into new places where God calls us forward. I didn’t talk about your needs and my needs, but God’s needs, as represented by our ministries. We need to expand our corps of lead givers, generous in giving a proportion of our income, and the multiple thousands given. We need to invite middle-of-the-road givers to risk new generosity by moving up into the thousands range. We need active members who pledge below our median $1600 pledge at least to edge up toward that median. We need to invite new members to pledge as a core Christian practice, like prayer and Bible study. We need to teach the 1/3 of our membership who doesn’t pledge at all how essential pledging is to our planning. To these latter two groups, just make a “starter pledge,” much as we will buy a “starter home.”
We have too few who are doing too much, and that is not a healthy long term plan for ministry. Of course, I hope against hope that such as these, who give sacrificially, won’t back off in 2014.
This Sunday—Thanksgiving Sunday—we celebrate by ingathering our pledge cards, just as we did last year. Some who thought this might be corny were surprised to find themselves deeply moved to bring commitments forward in solidarity with our entire faith community, feeling a personal ownership in God’s cause here. After the morning offering is received, the music will continue. At that time, please rise as the Spirit moves you and place your sealed pledge card in the basket upon the communion table. If you forget your pledge card, we’ll have extras in the pews. Please pray and discuss this with your spouse and family before making this big decision.
Because FCC, Darien is our spiritual home, we best give an amount not comparable to what we spend on pizza or ski lift tickets in a year. Because what happens here truly matters, we best give in line with what we lay out on college payments or the beautiful vacations that we enjoy.
Finally, all of this is not about grim obligation or heavy burden. This is about joy at being able to give back to God, when not doing so–given all God has put in our hands–would be painful. Last night I told Council that compared to checks I write for the IRS or root canals, the checks I write to First Congregational and the other benevolences I support are the cheeriest checks I write.
See you on Sunday, to sing the familiar Thanksgiving hymns. Bring your pledge card and a smile.