An Educational Presentation from the BRIDGE/Stewardship Committee

The purpose of our annual giving campaign is not only to raise support for the life-changing ministries of Grace, it is also to help members of our faith community explore intentional and proportional giving as a spiritual practice that reflects gratitude and generosity for all that has been given to us from God. This communication explores the reasons we are asked to pledge at Grace Church, our hesitations, and why proportional giving is our best means of doing this.

Why Pledge?

As baptized Episcopalians, we make a commitment to be followers and disciples of Jesus Christ. That commitment is reflected, in part, in how much we’re willing to follow Jesus’ call to us to give. Giving deepens our faith and enables the church to do God’s work of changing peoples’ lives.

At Grace, everyone is asked to make a commitment in the form of a pledge. Making a pledge is an important step in one’s spiritual journey; it is a commitment to give of oneself to God on behalf of the church for the benefit of others.

From a purely practical perspective, our pledges are the best way for our church to effectively recognize and apply our resources toward our mission at Grace. While non-committed, occasional giving is deeply appreciated, it doesn’t become visible until it’s given and collected. Pledging allows the church to successfully plan and budget for the year ahead.

Fears About Pledging

Some of us hesitate to make a pledge commitment because of the fear we’ll be unable to fulfill it. While this is an understandable anxiety, nothing precludes us from changing our commitment should our financial status change. We have seen this play out with a number of our members every year. We encourage our pledging members to advise the church any time they experience apprehension over their ability to meet their commitment, and we’ll adjust our mutual expectations.

Others fear the confidentiality of a pledge: please be assured, pledging and discussions around pledges remain confidential.

Why Proportional Giving Makes Sense

Many of us fear the discipline of “giving off the top.” This is when we identify a portion of our income at the beginning of the year to be given back to God. We don’t do it because we’re afraid there just won’t be enough, so instead we “give off the bottom,” giving back to God what’s left over, rather than showing our gratitude for God’s generosity up front. This often results in a very small percentage of our income being given back to the church and to God.

Doesn’t it make more sense that we show God our gratitude with our “first fruits”? Once this amount is planned into our individual budgets up front, it is no longer a source of anxiety or fear. Instead of giving God the leftovers, we give to God first.

One advantage of giving back a percentage of our income, rather than an amount, is that it helps us adjust our giving as our income goes up or down. When we have less money coming in, we give at the same percentage, but the actual amount of giving is reduced. We can do so knowing that our relative generosity is unchanged.

Another benefit is that proportional giving is much easier than trying to figure out a dollar amount. We can simply apply the percentage to our estimated income and the dollar amount is determined.

How it Works

If you take a look at what you gave to Grace in 2012 and divide that amount by the amount of your estimated income, you can determine your current proportional giving-level percentage. The Stewardship Committee endorses a proportional giving level of 5% as a starting-point in our journey toward a culture of true spiritual giving and generosity at Grace.

Our goal is to view and accept giving as a percentage rather than an amount. If we’re below the 5% threshold, we attempt to reach it by increasing the amount we give each year as we gain confidence and faith that this can be achieved. It is an incremental process and it may take years to attain. If we’re already at 5%, we try to build on that starting-point each year as we experience the exhilaration of generous giving and see how it changes us spiritually, as well as the lives of those in our church and the community.

Take a moment and view the short video provided under the link below: “Proportional Giving.” This video was created by the Diocese of New Hampshire during a recent stewardship campaign. The people who created the original messages shared these clips with the hope of spreading their message, and that message resonates with our stewardship vision this year at Grace.

Click on this link to watch video: Proportional Giving

Reflect on your personal situation and on God’s generosity to you. If you have not pledged in the past, make this your year of commitment. Use the guidance provided in this communication and reach out for God’s help through prayer.

John Adams
Co-Chair, BRIDGE/Stewardship Committee

Sources used for this communication:
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