I know, most of us really don’t want to talk (or read) about money in our church life. But stay with me a minute.
We just got through Black Friday, Cyper Monday, and Giving Tuesday… all unofficial secular holidays of finance.
Holiday is actually a funny word to use, since a holiday is a “Holy Day”; Holy Days of finance- makes one wonder how to stay grounded in God’s love and presence, in holiness, even as credit card numbers fly. Bishop Tom Shaw used to tell us that it was good to pray for money- nothing like a counter-cultural narrative flip, huh?
We shy away from talking about money in church, because we don’t want people to get the idea that we see our membership or our visitors as potential donors. We don’t want to emulate the history of church financial abuse; from indulgences to TV evangelists whose congregants buy them private jets. All of that makes our stomachs turn.
But money matters. We can’t pretend it doesn’t. Refugees matter, and money is required to help them toward safety. Poverty matters and money is required to abolish it. Parish-based ministry in general (and St. Paul’s ministry in particular) matters and money is required to keep it equipped to keep going.
I have heard it said that you can tell a lot about someone’s priorities based on what they do with their money. This is one of the reasons that faith leaders in various traditions recommend giving away 10% of what we have. That 10% keeps us anchored in a life intensionally lived beyond self. For those with higher levels of resource, that 10% mark is a starting point. For those with lower resources, that 10% is only recommended after your own basic needs are met. Money matters. It matters how we talk about it, how we use it, how we share it, and how we work to redistribute it in a very out-of-balance world.
While some of you are still deciding whether or not to commit a certain amount of money to this church for 2022, I want you to know a few things:
1.Your pledge to our 2022 life is more appreciated than you know, no matter the size. Truly.
2.We all figure out how much to give in different ways. I calculate 10% of my salary, make half of that a pledge to church, and the other half goes to other places where I see God’s hand in the world. Some give much more than that. Others start with $50 or $100 a year and then increase incrementally each year as they are able. Still others discuss the matter with a financial advisor.
3.Always it’s good to pray about how much you want to give.
4.Always it’s good to know that unlike other non-profits, St. Paul’s doesn’t draw on 1000s of donors, we are solely supported by our small membership. And your gifts go directly to making ministry happen, not to making anyone rich.
5.Salaries, benefits, electric bills, cleaning services, and copying machine contracts are not “overheard”, they all enable ministry.
6.Your commitment to church in 2022 has a direct impact on the staffing choices, building repairs, and programming that we are deciding on in the next couple of weeks.
7.I am available to talk and pray with you about this if that is helpful.
8.Money matters. To us. To you. To God’s movement in the world. We can use what we have to make clearer pathways for God to heal us, and pour love into the hearts of creation. Or we can avoid it, and miss out on an opportunity to define ourselves with more intentionality.
You are amazing for reading all the way to the end of a message on money. Thank you for your partnership in this work of bringing about God’s ways of love where we are. If you feel ready to make a financial pledge to help make church happen for 2022 here at St. Paul's, click HERE!
Yours in Christ,