From the earliest days of the church, properly financing our Christian ministry has been a challenge. From Acts 4:32-35 we learn that “the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul… and everything they owned was in common. There was not a needy person among them for what they owned they sold and laid the proceeds at the feet of the apostles, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” The need still exists, but the methods to pay for our ministry have changed. We are not asked to sell everything, just to make that sacrifice for mission that our heart tells us is right.
Marilyn and I were attracted to this church, as we hope were many of you, because of the quality of our preaching and instruction, and because of the many excellent programs that mark our Christian service to this city that we love. I am asking everyone to complete a pledge card during this Stewardship season. The pledge asks you to anticipate what you might be able to give for the entire year. We need this information so we can make commitments necessary for the entire year, to the people and programs that serve our mission. We appreciate whatever you can give any Sunday, but it is your pledge for the year that helps us plan to fulfill our mission in an organized way. Mission is built on our volunteerism. But sustaining programs that draw us together to serve Christ in the heart of the city, require staff, facilities and supplies. As in any organization, we make these commitments in an annual budget. Our pledges are important to being able to make commitments.
Some say, I give every Sunday, doesn’t that count as my pledge? Giving every Sunday is great. It is nice to get what we didn’t expect. But pledged giving helps the church make sure expenses to which we must commit today will be covered through 2019. Take the time to make your best estimate of what your cumulative weekly giving will be for the year on a pledge card and drop it in the plate, at the front desk.
Tax law changes may help some of us. If you are age 70 ½ or older during 2019, you are required to take a distribution from your individual retirement account. The IRS now says that you can make charitable contributions directly from your IRA or 401(k) without raising your taxable income. Talk to your tax advisor about how direct charitable contributions can help you and our church.
John O’Brien, Diaconal Minister and Stewardship Committee Member