Surprised by Stewardship

I had what I thought was a relatively disappointing Stewardship Sunday this past week. We had decided to do the 18th because we thought people would be away on Veteran’s Day weekend. Last week there were 74 people in church; this Sunday, there were 51. Well, bugger. I’d worked hard on my sermon and thought it could be used to help convince people to give more generously, but that’s kind of hard to do if they don’t show up to listen.

Anyway, the sermon was good, and is uploaded to my archive site. “Tipping Point” speaks of the need to take a leap of faith, push just a little harder, and live into abundance rather than out of fear and want. It also, by the by, settles a miniature debate with the lovely and talented Lynn Flewelling, who all but bet me that I couldn’t use her “godless” books in a sermon one day. Nightrunner fans will recognize my retelling of the best leap-of-faith story I know. Indiana Jones, eat your heart out (hehe. which, given themes in “Temple of Doom” and Flewelling’s Stalking Darkness, is not a bad admonition).

Anyway, happy with the sermon but not so happy with the turnout, I was already planning to include CDs of the sermon and/or links to the sermon in the letters we send out to the people who weren’t there, asking them to give a listen before they fill out the cards. And I awaited the tally with trepidation. After all, as I say in my sermon, I needed everybody to increase their pledge by $5-10 per week (knowing that some won’t and some givers have passed/moved away, and there will be some new ones) in order for 2008 to not operate under the same $12,000 shortfall as 2007.

That’s right, we’re trying to make up a $12,000 shortfall.

So maybe you can understand why tears sprung to my eyes when I opened this email from my Financial Secretary just a few minutes ago:

To date we have received 12 fewer pledges than last year [due to people who normally give not being in attendance]. However, the estimated giving for 2008 already exceeds that of 2007 by $10,000 (This is the sum of the new pledges and the 2007 giving for the folks we have not received pledges from). There were 7 new pledges this year. A couple of these were former pledge givers who opted to fill out a pledge card this year…but still a lot of new folks which is great. What speaks highly of the congregation is the number of folks who increased their pledge this year…22 of 27. Says a lot.

A lot indeed.

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