Stewardship involves much more than raising money to support the mission of First Presbyterian in 2024. That’s important but it’s much more than that. If stewardship was just about raising money it would be easier to begin Bingo Nights or raffle off a Chevy Suburban.
A steward is a caretaker. It is someone entrusted to care for something valuable. We are stewards of God’s dreams, God’s hopes, God’s purposes of healing and restoring this broken world with love. We are stewards of God’s Holy Earth. We are stewards of this one wild and precious life we have been gifted, as poet Mary Oliver puts it.
Giving is a spiritual practice of generosity that shapes us into a faithful people who are growing in generosity. Are you a more generous person than you were 12 months ago? When we determine how much to give and pledge, whether it be pledging our money, our time, or our gifts, it is tempting to make that decision based on what is reasonable, comfortable and safe. It is tempting to calculate what we have left to give. The Bible encourages us to give to God first as a spiritual practice and expression of our faith and trust in God. The Bible encourages us to invest more and more of ourselves and our resources in God’s purposes for love’s sake. Giving generously helps us live from a place of faith and trust in God’s abundance rather than from a place of fear, self-centeredness and sense of scarcity.
Ultimately, stewardship is a chance to seriously reflect on how we are living in relationship to God and God’s purposes.
We need to talk about money in church because Jesus talked about money…a lot. In fact, Jesus talked about our relationship to money and our possessions more than anything else.
I realize talking about money in church makes people nervous. Worship attendance was noticeably smaller in one of my previous congregations when I delivered the annual stewardship sermons. One person told me, “I don’t want to come to church and be made to feel guilty about how much money I do or do not give. Money is private. What I give is between me and God.” ( I think he missed that verse that says God loves a cheerful giver.)
I agree that how much we give is a deeply personal decision. As I said, it is a spiritual practice. It is important to talk about money and the power we give it in our lives and in the world. Our culture talks about and shapes our view of money 24/7. It is important we challenge our culture’s story of money with the Jesus story.
Money and how we use money matters to God. Martin Luther said humans need to experience three conversions in order to fully live our faith: a conversion of our heart; a conversion of our mind; and a conversion of our purse. The act of giving our money is as much a spiritual discipline as the act of bowing in prayer.
Your financial pledge supporting the mission of First Presbyterian in 2024 is a personal and prayerful decision. We simply ask that your financial pledge express your faith, generosity and commitment to the work God is seeking to accomplish through First Presbyterian.
Our average pledge is approximately $3200 for the year. Some have the means to pledge significantly higher and some pledge much lower based on their capacity. The average for our denomination is approximately $2600, which shows that First Presbyterian is and has always been a generous congregation.
We are simply asking you to determine the kind of pledge that reflects an ALL IN kind of love and generosity for you.
First: Small donations add up and make a big difference. If you are tempted to consider your pledge “too small,” please remember that it does not stand on its own but joins with all other pledges large and small. Every pledge – large or small – matters! It is not the amount but whether your pledge shows that you are growing in generosity and is an expression of your faith and trust in God.
Second: Participation is as important as dollars. Pledging demonstrates your support and can increase one’s sense of connection and belonging in our organization and community. Your pledge not only helps First Presbyterian continue its ministries but also powerfully demonstrates your faith and commitment to our mission and vision.
We need everyone to be ALL IN. We would love to grow the number of people who pledge by 20%.
Whatever amount you pledge, you get to decide how and when, whether you give when you pledge or donate over the coming year. Donating incrementally makes fulfilling a pledge much easier for many people. You can specify how often you’d like to pay.
No matter how you set up your pledge, we strongly suggest setting up automatic deductions from your credit card or bank account. Our treasurer, Patrice, or our Finance Director, Boyd, can help you with that.
Pledges help with planning, which is essential to the health and growth of any organization. Many who make a financial pledge for the year also make donations in the weekly offerings on top of their pledge.
This is such a good question. In fact, Oregon ranks 4th highest among all 50 states in terms of the number of nonprofits per capita. Bend rates 6th highest nationwide for number of nonprofits per capita, which is 3x the national average. And there has been a marked increase in nonprofits in Bend in the last 10 years. This means there are many organizations competing for your charitable giving. Most, if not all, of these organizations are worthy and doing important work. I happen to support and sit on the Board of Directors of Bethlehem Inn, CASA and the Peaceful Presence Project.
One of the reasons our income at the church has been a challenge the past few years isn’t because people are less generous. It is because there has been an influx of nonprofits competing for your charitable giving. I am not in any way suggesting that you not support those organizations that speak to your heart.
I am asking that you consider prioritizing First Presbyterian. It is imperative that First Presbyterian remain a bold and visible witness to the love of Christ at a time when Christian influence and presence in our society is diminishing. First Presbyterian has a reputation in the community as being the church you can count on when and where love is needed the most. Your generosity is necessary to continue that reputation.
In generously supporting First Presbyterian, you actually support many nonprofits. Our mission includes supporting the homeless, the hungry, families in need of affordable childcare, those in recovery, support for children and youth, mental health support, grief support and so much more,
Our vision of Spacious Christianity is vital at a time many are rejecting Christianity viewing it rigid and restrictive. Our mission to live the spacious and radical love of Jesus so that all might flourish is a mission that needs each of us to be ALL IN.
Life happens. We understand. If unexpected life circumstances occur and make it necessary to change your pledge in 2024, simply let us know.