Its ” that time of year” again…

 Yep…October for we Church-folks means more than Halloween, Oktoberfest &{ in the north} changing colors of deciduous tree leaves. October is generally  time to start planning the budget for next year’s Church expenditures & therefore it is necessary to discuss stewardship in Christian education, in committee & vestry meetings and ( YES) even in homilies by our clergy. 

Talking about supporting one’s parish & the Diocese makes most people uncomfortable, even during good economic times. But since this Great Recession began, talk of financial stewardship is almost as fun as a trip to get a tooth pulled.

On a personal note: I admit that I dislike talking about church finances even less than the average church-goer. My reasoning for this aversion to discussing church budgets & financial matters  comes from my years spent in a Protestant church with little cash flow in the form of pledges and even less of a sense of financial responsibility.

The lay leadership of this particular congregation also utilized major ” guilt-tripping” in order to encourage{ and I use the word ” encourage” lightly”} folks to give more to what they pledged. Every week’s service leaflet had a breakdown of the church’s monetary inflows & outflows. Yep, EVERY DARN WEEK, congregants were reminded about that church’s dire financial situation. It was one of the worst guilt-inducing tactics I with which I have ever been bombarded.  To this day, although I have forgiven those folks at that church, I haven’t forgotten how” stewardship by fire” negatively affected me. 

I’m the Christian Education Director at my parish, so I must at least somewhat be aware of the parish’s budget in order to make the most our of our collective resources. But please, spare me the itemized expenditures, as I am not good with numerals anyhow & I hate talking about money.

And for the time since that I’ve been part of ” Stewardship Season” at Small Parish, the month-long event gets less painful  every calendar year. I know for sure that I will NEVER be on the finance committee nor chair the annual stewardship campaign, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t something to dread. While I’ll never enjoy  financial stewardship campaigns at ANY parish we might find ourselves as members ” in good standing” .

I may not have a lot of monetary resources, but I’ve much time & some talent to give to God via my parish. I’m reminded of  the widow in the Gospel who gave one small coin…all she had. Though I can only afford a metaphorical ” widow’s mite” for my pledge this upcoming year, I no longer feel guilty. I’ll pray for God to open doors for me to serve God through serving others. God wants us to spread the Gospel not ONLY with our money{ which of course is needed to carry out the mission of Gospel-spreading} but with our minds, hands & souls as well.

Ask yourself: What does God want from ME this upcoming year? I am already asking myself this question & praying for the wisdom to discern what God wants from yours truly, Sarah Beth.

Amen.

"3 legged stool" of stewardship

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