Tuesday, September 27, 2005

On Giving (and getting gifts)

It was remarkably simple logic. "To encourage people to give you money make it easy for them to do so". I first heard that when the camp board I was on was trying to start a donation drive. And it make a lot of sense -- people should be more likely to give if they don't have to work hard to do so (although it also makes it sound like the givers are slightly lazy ;) )

But of course it never really works out that way. In the church we have made it incredibly easy for people to give us money (less so for them to give their time and talent). They can give weekly, or by post-dated cheque, or by pre-authorized remittance (PAR for UCCan folks), or by a cheque whenever they remember. They can come in person or mail it in. According to the above logic, money should be coming in torrents right? Anybody out there have that problem--money coming too fast? Some how I doubt it.

Of course the first paragraph misses one key point. We need to show that we are worth giving money to. Not that we need it--the church has all sorts of ways to say we need your money--but that we deserve to get it. There are a lot of voices out there asking for our money, why should we give to the church? And this, I think, is where we in the church (or at least in the UCCan) have fallen down. We think that people know what is done with the money we get, or more appropriately what that money allows to happen.

We are in the midst of a Stewardship campaign and I have realized that we are missing the boat. We don't have a money problem (we just don't have the money). We have a vision/passion problem. We quibble about the cost of running a building without talking about what the building allows to happen in our community. My sermon title for the week is Many Ways of Giving. I was going to talk about PAR, about bequests, about giving time and talent. But I think that will be more of an intro. I think it is time to say "This is what your gifts can make happen". That way I can lead neatly into the fact that our problem isn't spending too much--in fact I don't think we spend enough, having cut back wherever we can--but that we have lost sight of who we are called to be, what we are called to bring to the community.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm, it seems so much easier/safer to talk about how to give. But then who said life had to be easy or safe?

1 comment:

  1. This resonates so loudly with me, it has almost made my head hurt. On Thursday I came home from an excellent conference, arranged and funded by the diocese, to feed clergy and laity and inspire us with a "Passion for God's People". That same evening my church council debated whether or not they could afford to contribute to a "mutual support fund" which the diocese is creating, to enable richer parishes (which definitely includes us) to help to support the ministry of those who can't fund their own mission. They so don't get it. Passion for God's people? Enthusiasm for sharing the Gospel? It's devastating, really...where to begin, beyond alot of prayer...But you're right, until they've got the point of the exercise, stewardship campaigns are going to be heavy going at best.