Save this one for next year when you are preaching stewardship! I actually love preaching about stewardship and we had a great response to this year’s stewardship campaign.
Rehoboth Congregational Church
October 28, 2018
Mark 6:30-44, Mark 8:1-10
It is time for my annual disclaimer.
I am going to talk about money today.
And I am really sorry about that.
But, this is not a bad thing, I promise! Who read my stewardship letter this year? If you missed it, here is the gist. I actually like the stewardship season. I enjoy talking about money. I am kind of a geek when it comes to the whole thing. I get excited to think about the God-sized possibilities that a stewardship campaign could bring.
In my stewardship letter this year, I told the story about a conversation I had in seminary with my nonprofit leadership professor. I told him I hated asking for money and he smiled at me and told me he loved asking for money. He explained that he only ever asked for money for organizations that he was truly passionate about. And, in asking a person to donate to that organization, he was asking them to be part of the mission of the organization, knowing that beyond any kind of financial support they might give, there was a good chance their lives might also be changed along the way.
So even though I am going to talk about money today, it really is not all about the money; it is about changing lives – your lives.
Because here is the thing, Rehoboth Congregational Church – I believe in this church. I believe it has the power to change people’s lives, both inside our walls and outside our walls. I believe this church has the ability to proclaim the Gospel in a way that is relevant, meaningful and accessible to all in this generation. I believe we can get people excited about growing in their faith, being part of the Body of Christ and doing church together.
A few months ago, Abbie St. Martin was in my office and we were talking about stewardship. Abbie is the vice chair of the Executive Board and part of her role as vice chair is to, alongside me, oversee the stewardship campaign. Neither one of us was feeling particularly inspired that afternoon, so we did what probably would have made my nonprofit leadership professor cringe – we turned to Pinterest for ideas.
But lo and behold – we saw something that peaked our attention.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
We were immediately drawn to this, because it described the church in the village we have been celebrating for the past two years. As a church, we are stronger together than we are separately. We are more than simply the sum of our parts; we are the Body of Christ.
And that means something.
It means something in the life of our church and it means something in the lives of each and every one of us sitting here.
At the time, we decided on our theme, our logo and the timeline, which included me preaching on stewardship on October 28th, this morning. I remember thinking that at some point I needed to look at our Year of Mark calendar to see what I was already scheduled to preach on just in case it was completely irrelevant and I needed to go in another direction.
And so after the whole demonic pigs drowning on the same day as Charlotte’s baptism happened, you can imagine my sheer delight when I opened my Year of Mark schedule and realized that this morning we would be reading not just one, but both of the loaves and fishes stories.
These stories speak for themselves. There did not seem to be enough food to feed the crowds that had gathered around Jesus and yet, after blessing a few loaves of bread and a small number of fish, there was an abundance of food that allowed everyone to eat their full.
We have all seen this happen at the church. We go into an event or a meal worried that there will not be enough food for everyone and then five minutes later we have to set up another table because we are running out of space.
People always ask me how this happens and the truth is, I have no idea; it can only be described as grace.
But here is what I do know: When we have these loaves and fishes moments at the church – these moments when I see people clearing a space on the floor for another table and hear the familiar sound of those metal table legs banging open – they never happen because of one person. They happen as a community – because we are better together.
Together, we can take morsels of food and feed a crowd that has gathered. Together, we can create a space in this church where all people feel welcome, where we all have a safe space to learn and grow in our faith. Together, we can worship God and teach others that the Gospel is a story that is still worth telling. Together, we can change people’s lives, our own included. Together, we can do the impossible.
And that is why I love stewardship. That is why I have had some of the best and most honest conversations about pledging and giving to the church this year. That is why I was so open in talking about what Bruce and I are going to increase our pledge by this year. That is why I am excited to ask people for money and to prayerfully consider their level of giving for the upcoming year.
Because we are stronger together than we are as separate units. The offerings that we give to this church have more of an impact when they are combined with everyone else’s than they ever would if they were on their own. We have the capacity to make a real difference here, not only to help sustain this church, but to help it thrive in the years to come.
Something really special is happening here, at the church. Momentum is building; I can feel it in the very depths of my soul. God has cast a vision for our church in the village and I can say with absolute confidence that the next chapter of our story is going to be captivating.
This morning marks the end of our official stewardship season and I am humbly asking you a few things:
- If you have not yet turned in your pledge card for the upcoming year, please do so. There are pledge cards in the pews if you would like to do so this morning; fill it out and put it in the offering plate. I know the concept of pledging is scary for some people, but the Executive Board needs to put together a budget for 2019 and they rely on the pledge numbers to estimate what the income is going to be.
- Consider increasing your pledge. Think about the impact that even a small increase in your pledge would have on this church if we all did that together.
- Also consider signing up for electronic giving. It is simple, it is safe and it is a great way to guarantee that you will stay current on your pledge and that our revenue stream will remain consistent.
However you pledge, however you give, however you donate and however you serve – thank you. You are the reason that we are better together.
Thanks be to God!