“You should each give, then, as you have decided, not with regret or out of sense of duty; for God loves the one who gives gladly.” 2 Cor. 9:7
These words are on the reverse side of a new “Offering Card” that we’ve placed in the pew pockets at church. Seeing the card at another UCC church, I liked the idea and I stole it for our use. Later, I told the pastor that I took her idea. She laughed and said that she stole it from some other church. We both agreed that this is a good kind of theft and a nice example of our denominational connection at work.
The front of the card reads, “Part of my worship is giving back to God – with Joy and Gratitude – from all that I have received. I have already given for this Sunday, so today I celebrate this commitment, using this reusable card as a reminder of my act of giving.” It can feel awkward not to put money in the plates when the ushers come around. But, in a way, I’m encouraging that.
Actually, what I want to discourage is a “pay per visit” mentality, which weekly giving envelopes may accidentally encourage. When our giving is tied too closely to our attendance I worry that we tend to view our giving in terms of “what I get out of it.” We develop a pay to play mind set.
But, ultimately our giving should be tied to our commitment to God and to God’s work through the life of our church. Our giving is rooted in an understanding that through the faithful generosity of others we’ve been blessed. And, through our own giving (and participation) others are also blessed. When our giving is rooted in commitment rather than attendance we’re better able to see it as a ministry for others rather than a service for ourselves.
At a former church I noticed that a woman had stopped attending. She also stopped bringing her children to Sunday school and youth group. I was concerned, so I gave her a call. She explained, “We’re struggling right now financially, and I feel guilty taking advantage of church programs when we can’t afford to give.”
We talked it through and I was able to put her concerns to ease. Later, I thought, That’s exactly why I give to the church. That’s why I give joyfully. I love knowing that my giving helps others experience God’s love in ways they might not otherwise get to experience. Furthermore, I could have very easily pointed to a whole group of other givers in the church who felt the same exact way. They gave because they were committed to nurturing the spiritual lives of others and to the building up of a church family that could embody Christ’s love in many different and powerful ways for many different people.
Angela and I will make our pledge to TCC out of the same sense of commitment. We’ll send in our offering once a month regardless of our attendance (though, I plan to be here pretty regularly!) Most of the time we’ll put an “Offering Card” in the plates so that our gifts are celebrated and lifted to God in thanks along with everyone else’s. (Plus, it won’t feel awkward when the ushers come around.)
Thank you for giving prayer and thought to your pledge for 2015. I look forward to celebrating the results of our pledge campaign and to knowing the joy of ministry as we serve Christ together.