expanding our mission and giving

What a great annual meeting!  Thanks to everyone who prepared a great brunch and thanks to the 130 or so folks who came out to elect vestry and celebrate the ministry of St. Andrew’s!

If you missed the meeting, I’ve posted the audio of my report on the website at http://standrewsgso.org/news-and-media/.


Our 2013 budget calls for a modest increase in pledged income in order to take some significant steps carrying out our mission.  And thanks to one parishioner for asking how much we need to think about growing our giving in order to take those steps: the answer is 3 or 4%.  Our hope is that those who can grow in their pledging by that amount will do so, even if it’s a stretch. And we especially hope to see folks who have not pledges in the past will choose to do so.

But another parishioner came up to me afterward and said that we missed a great opportunity in not responding by asking for more. Why limit our hopes to 3 or 4%?

If the direct answer to the question is “let’s expand this year by 3 or 4%” the real answer is a lot more challenging.  I read recently that mainline churches tend to receive pledges that are about 2.8% of families household income.  (The real numbers are of course all over the spectrum: some simply cannot give much at all, whereas others give at the level of 10% or higher).

This leads me to wonder what our church would look like – and what impact it could really have in our community – if the average household pledge was more like 5%, or 7%, or even 10%.  That’s a real frame-bending question, because a great many of us have shaped our lives around commitments that make such giving very hard to imagine.   Yet if we could radically reconsider giving, we could begin to see the church do some things in this world that might seem unimaginable.

This is hardly uncharted territory: there are are great many in our churches whose generous and sacrificial gifts make possible the ministry that binds us together.  These are folks whose stories will expand our vision of what the church can and ought to be doing, and how our gifts make that happen.


About bernardowens

I'm an Episcopal priest in Greensboro, North Carolina.
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