One Body, Many Members
The sermon text this past Sunday was Paul’s beautiful description of the church as a “body” from 1 Corinthians 12: For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
It’s a powerful image, not only pointing to the variety of gifts within the congregation, but also to our shared commitment to one another. A perfect text for Pentecost, the Sunday each year when we celebrate the continued gift of the Holy Spirit that binds us together as God’s people. But also an opportunity for us to talk about stewardship.
Over the past few years we have been recalibrating our budget to bring it more in line with our needs as a church, and also the wishes of the congregation expressed in our visioning process.
Our budget and giving have both grown each of these last few years, but unfortunately not at the same pace. While giving last year was the highest since 2010, and among the highest ever, we still ended with a shortfall of about $22,000. Nevertheless, last October our congregation approved a budget increase of around $34,000 (4.8%) for this year.
Why did we do this? Well, first of all know that it this decision wasn’t made lightly. It was a direct result of a visioning process, discussed in multiple committees and at the church budget conference. But it was a decision we felt compelled to make because it was the right thing to do. The increases were mostly due to the addition of a benefits package for the staff, so that we could offer health insurance and retirement for the first time since leaving the SBC program decades ago. It was one way that you, we, the congregation decided to live out our shared life together.
But even though we agreed this increase was the right thing to do, there was some risk involved—that’s always true in living a life of faith. Would we fail to meet expenses again? By how much? What hard decisions would we have to make then?
The rough numbers suggest that in order to meet our expenses this year, we will need to raise around $60,000 more this year than we did last year. Not a small number, but not an unachievable goal either.
Our Stewardship and Finance Committees have discussed ways to emphasize stewardship in worship and education this year. But we’ve also discussed ways to challenge the congregation to meet this need of an additional $60,000 toward the budget this year.
Here’s the plan:
- We have roughly 200 “givers” as a congregation, either families or individuals.
- If each “giver” were to contribute an additional $300 over what they gave last year to the budget, it would total $60,000
- This would break down to $50 a month starting in July.
Isn’t it remarkable what small gifts, added together, can do? Perhaps we can call this the “One Body, Many Members” campaign.
Of course, some won’t be able to do this, and that’s okay. But we’re hoping some can do more, perhaps much more. The important thing is that we all truly do what we can. That we use the gifts God has given us to carry out our shared mission together. I want you to know we pitched this plan to our Deacons and Church Council last week and as of today they have already pledged over $12,000. Audrey and I and the rest of the ministers have made our pledge, too. We’re all in this together.
Know that this is the first step in what will be a renewed emphasis on financial stewardship in the coming months. Like our more recent discussions about race and sexuality, talking about money is often uncomfortable, but it cuts to the core of who we are and what we value. I have every confidence we will meet this opportunity to grow with the same passion and generosity of spirit that has marked our conversations since beginning the visioning process some 18 months ago.
More than anything, I remain exceedingly grateful to be church together with all of you, and wait with hopeful anticipation to see what God will continue to do through us in this season.
If you’d like to make note of your pledge and have Joe add it to your quarterly statement, click this link and complete the form: http://www.fbcxmacon.org/additionalpledgeform
Click here to read the text from my sermon from Sunday, where I expand on some of these things and describe a bit of the conversation Audrey and I have had over the past couple of years about our giving goals as a family.