Submit your Pledge here
My Last Will and Testament
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Reflection by Lillian Daniel
As an adult, it took me far too long to make a will. Who wants to consider the time of one's death? I didn't. Besides, there was nothing complicated about my estate, I reasoned. Anything I had would just go to my family. Wouldn't that just happen naturally?
Later, I learned that I was making some big assumptions. There's more to a will than money. There are other decisions to be made, from the care of my children to my own wishes for myself in a medical situation. Without a will, I was not being responsible to myself, or my family. But I still didn't want to do it. It was depressing.
But when I finally did it, I discovered something wonderful. In my will, I could be extravagantly generous to the institutions that have mattered most to me. It wouldn't cost me a thing, or cause me one worry or make a dent in my lifestyle. My children are already used to the notion that we don't keep all the money we earn, so they won't be surprised that they don't get to keep all their parents' money later. In fact, I like to think that the gifts we give to others might even bring them a little joy at a sad time.
It gives me joy to think that one day I can leave a surprising and unexpected gift to a church that has long since forgotten my name. (And yes, I would prefer that enough time has passed that they have forgotten my name. That is definitely my preference.)
These churches will get a gift they didn't expect from someone they may not remember, unearned, no strings attached. It's a small gesture compared to the gift of life eternal, and the legacy of a cloud of witnesses bigger than us all.
Dear God, I thank you for all the gifts that have been left to the church over the centuries, for the generosity of the givers and for the mighty cloud of witnesses that shape us still today. Amen.
The following article entitled "10 Stewardship Lessons for 2010" is reprinted from "Connections," the North Central Region of the Connecticut Conference newsletter. The article is written by Brad Leeper, used with permission.
1. A bold vision with meaningful results will rarely be underfunded. The church that consistently and creatively articulates a compelling vision and celebrates its successes will attract giving in hard times.
2. Conversations about giving must move beyond stewardship toward spiritual formation. Try a vocabulary shift in 2009. Replace stewardship with generosity and unpack the stories of how the generosity of your church changed lives. Watch your giving flourish.
4. Churches must speak more intentionally about finances.
The church that preaches and teaches about sound, biblical financial practices will create a long-term culture that gives abundantly to match its compelling vision.
5. Churches can still raise financial resources for major projects if ...
People eager to give generously look for certain qualities in a project before giving. Their decision-making grid is radically different than even just a few years ago.
6. The church must intentionally build greater trust with its people.
Most church giving, especially project-driven giving, is in direct correlation to the trust account balance with its people. How often and how creatively can you build the trust connection that gives people instant freedom to say yes to a spiritual investment?
7. Potential larger gift donors need pinpoint coaching and encouragement. As leaders, we hear an outstanding vocalist and we encourage them to move into the music ministry. We find a young leader gifted as a communicator and we prompt them into ministry options. Yet, we find a person with financial capacity to give large sums and we go into silent mode.
8. Leaders must model sacrificial giving. We cannot lead people where we ourselves are not going. Our people are hungry to view authentic leaders living and giving in the context of faith.
9. Human need trumps brick and mortar. A clear connection on how personal giving reduces human need throws gasoline on the flame of generosity.
10. Free yourself from the past. Your church members have
The recent Barna report on giving in 2007 repeated the same theme from prior years. Just 5% of American adults tithed. The most generous segment, evangelicals, only topped the charts at 24%. The numbers have remained steady over the decade. We are anemic as a church in prompting generosity. If inspired, motivated, or simply prompted, people would still rather give to their church. Our silence leaves them uninspired, unmotivated, and believing that we have no need of their financial resources.
ConclusionAs we consider ministry plans for 2009 in the midst of economic uncertainly, understand the urgency of making adaptations to your giving practices. You will find the process engaging, energizing, and incredibly meaningful to your people. They will be transformed in an amazing collaboration of their investments and God's call on your church.
Frequently Asked Questions about Pledges to First Church
- Why does the church ask us to pledge financial support each year? Like any business or non-profit organization, the church needs revenue to pay its expenses. Donations from each of us are the primary source of revenue. So that the church can develop an annual budget and know how much money it will have to pay expenses each year, it asks us to make a pledge or promise of the amount we will donate next year.
- Doesn’t the church have fund-raisers and endowment funds that will pay for current expenses? No. The church has very few fund raising activities and they are used to raise money for outreach programs. The church does have an endowment but the income from the endowment and rentals covers only about 10% of operating expenses.
- How much should I pledge? Biblical scripture talks about the tithe or giving an offering of the first 10% of the gifts God gave to us. In the current day, the church suggests that we give 5% of our annual income to the church and 5% to other causes that we want to support. If we each did that, our church would easily fund all of its programs and outreach activities.
- What if I am only giving 1% or 2% of my income to the church today? We ask that you consider increasing your pledge each year until you are giving 5%.
- Are my contributions to the church tax deductible? Yes. You will get a year-end statement from the church that will serve as your receipt as required by the IRS.
- When does the church need my pledge? Consecration Sunday is October 26th. We ask you to bring your pledge card to church on that Sunday or mail your pledge card to the church office. Getting your pledge card to the church promptly will reduce the work of our volunteers who make follow-up phone calls. If you need another pledge card, they will be available in the church pews or in the office. You can also click the above link to pledge online.
- How do I pay my pledge? You may pay your pledge in cash, check, or appreciated stock. You may pay weekly, monthly, or annually. The church will provide you with the envelopes in which to put your payments if you request them. If you use online banking, you can set up regular payments that will fulfill your pledge and leave you free to lead your already busy life!
- Why can’t I just send money and not make a pledge? Pledging helps the church know how much money it can budget for. If you send money but don’t pledge, your contributions will not be included in the budget estimates that are prepared for 2009.
- What is the money used for? To pay all of the expenses of the church including staff salaries, utilities, church school and office supplies, outreach programs the church supports and maintenance expenses. The church budget details all the expenses and is reviewed and approved at the annual church meeting in February.
- What if I have questions about the budget? The Cabinet Chair and Treasurer welcome any questions about the budget.