I know it’s not Stewardship season, and I know we preachers get picked on a lot about asking for money. So, apologies x 2. But, I was looking through some statistics that I found interesting, and I thought I’d write a blog about them. And anyway, if you’re not in the mood for thoughts about our money and what we do with it, you can read a different blog. There are lots to choose from, and as you know this is not a frequent topic.
Anyway, I was looking through Marble’s membership stats recently. Officially, we have roughly 6000 members on our rolls. Note the phrase “on our rolls.” Most churches have membership rolls that do not translate into active members. So far as that latter category is concerned, we have about 2500 people who show up or participate with some regularity (worship services, small groups, Sister Carol’s classes, specific ministries, donations, etc.). Let’s just deal with those folks for the moment.
If the people who participate on even a minimal basis earn what the average New Yorker earns (a composite of the average annual incomes of the five boroughs) … and if they donated not what the Bible suggests (a tithe of 10% of personal income) but instead half of that (5% of personal income), we would have almost $4 million more than our current budget requires before The Collegiate Church kicks in anything from its Endowment.
What could we do with an additional $4 million a year? Obviously the answer is, “A lot!” A whole lot! Whether we’re talking about additional cosmetic work in the sanctuary … or increasing the size and scope of our work with children, youth, and older adults … or expanding our media ministries to meet the needs of the world that is finding its way to our doorstep … or developing new initiatives for nearby campuses, for singles, for grief support, divorce support, or those who have lost jobs … or enhancing current non-Sunday worship events (including PR) … or increasing our support of the local, national, and global works that receive current Easter Offering contributions … or designing new ways to deal with the hungry, the homeless, the abused, or the mentally ill … or creating academic scholarship funds … or advocating for community causes that would create a better and more just environment for everyone … or beginning satellite churches in other boroughs … or developing an academy/training center … or (be creative here) beginning or strengthening whatever your passion is – whatever has not shown up yet in this article and you are committed it should have been listed first. Whatever a church can do to make the world a better, safer, healthier place and to honor Christ in the process could be done fourfold if we who are active would establish a baseline stewardship commitment of 5%. Many give more than that, which I applaud, and that would mean the funds available would be even greater than an additional $4 million a year.
If God gives us everything we cherish, then becoming disciplined in giving something back as an act of faith and thanks is reasonable. And percentage giving is always stronger than giving that is whimsical or conditional. If you can give 10%, it will make a profound difference. If you can give 5%, it will make a profound difference. Most folks who are not percentage givers begin with a small number (perhaps 2-3% of their income) and once they realize that is entirely manageable, they increase the percentage each year until they arrive at a place that seems right. And, just a note: If you make that commitment with every paycheck, it’s really pretty easy. You don’t even have to worry about a large annual number. You just think, “What is ___% of this particular pay period?”
As I said, I was looking over stats and began to think about Stewardship in a different light … a contemplative “What if” kind of daydreaming. But hey, we’re Marble Collegiate! We have always believed that good dreams are God’s dream, so I decided to share this one with you. Dream big! God always gives us a way of making dreams come true.