This weekend we are celebrating Stewardship Sunday all weekend long. It is the one time of the year when we reflect on the financial stewardship of Church of the Nativity.
We have been increasingly disciplined about this in recent years, eliminating fundraisers and other distractions from the giving God wants. We talk about giving that is
- Planned: not an afterthought or an impulse
- Priority: part of people’s budgets, but not just any part, the priority in people’s budget, what they do with money before they do anything else
- Percentage: we want our parishioners to be giving a percentage of their income. The Bible teaches about the tithe, or 10%. This is a hard sell in Catholic communities, where teaching about giving has, at best, been confused, and oftentimes flat out wrong. Instead of asking them to do something they’re not going to do, we just challenge people to become percentage givers by picking any percentage and starting there. Then we ask them to do one other thing: give in a way that is….
- Progressive: we challenge parishioners to look again each year at the percentage they’re giving and look for ways to increase their percentage so they continue to grow closer to the tithe.
After our Stewardship message we ask parishioners (and regulars, even if they’re not officially members) to fill out a commitment card, which we then collect at the Altar as a sign that this offering is a worship offering. The card also provides the opportunity to enroll for electronic giving, which we call Automatic Worship Offering. This is the easiest and best way to give; the more members a church has giving in this way, the stronger and healthier giving will be in the parish. It also cuts down on the liability of cash and the hassle of processing lots of checks. It is the way to give and the way forward and we wish all our members would give in this way.
This year we have a very special message planned; it will include testimonies, read by our staff members, from our parishioners about what has happened to them at Nativity. Some are funny and some are touching, but all of them tell the story of the wonderful, powerful way God is working at Nativity.
Chris and Brian have come up with a surprise after communion that is supposed to be funny, we’ll see. Brian will also be updating us on the success of our Project Thanksgiving program and the impact it will have both here in Baltimore and in New Jersey, in response to super storm Sandy.
And of course we’ll have wonderful music, great kids and students programs, and the always over the top hospitality and fellowship. While this isn’t a great weekend to invite people who don’t have a church to our church, it will be a great weekend because we have a lot to celebrate when it comes to our parish. Join us.