Did you hear about the time a member of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, and St. Luke United Methodist Church all ended up stranded on a deserted island? The Episcopalian and the Methodist lit fires, waved flags, and began to draw large signs in the sand, hoping desperately to be rescued. The BMPC member meanwhile does nothing.
Annoyed, the others ask, “Why are you not helping us attract attention? Do you not want to be rescued?”
The Presbyterian replies faithfully, “I am a member of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. The Stewardship Committee will find me.”
I can’t take any credit for this illustration, as it came from a sermon given by Dr. Gene Bay in our pulpit some years ago. But the joke still works.
It works because the members of our stewardship committee are persistent in seeking out your generosity. They strain to reach out and connect with most of our congregation. They search with diligence for language to illustrate how your dollars translate into real ministry for God’s kingdom. And yes, if you have perhaps disappeared, they will do their best to find you. I thank God for them, and for all of you who invest your time, talents, and treasure into the ministry of this congregation.
Money talk is taboo. But it is undoubtedly one of the very things Jesus talked about most in the Gospels. What we do — and don’t do — with our money matters. And talking about money with honesty is always a good start.
The truth is, we are behind in our pledges for 2019. And I recognize the irony of being in such a state, given the wonderful success of our This Time, This Place capital campaign.
But here we are, a bit below where we need to be in pledged dollars in order to fund all the various ministries and operations of our congregation. Which is a lot of stuff. From Vacation Bible Camp to adult education speakers to Broad Street Ministry support, it all comes from our annual operating budget. And we build our yearly ministries around the pledges (financial promises) of congregants.
So now what?
The stewardship committee will not be rapaciously hunting down previous or potential donors. We will not lament our plight from the pulpit. Nor will we stand before you weeping in sackcloth and ashes. (I’m not sure sackcloth would go well with my bow tie.)
But I do want you to know we will continue to reach out to you as an invitation to share your gifts.
As one philanthropy guru notes, “Stewardship is not simply paying our dues; rather it is tending to our souls so that we can see our wealth properly as an instrument to invest in God’s kingdom.” Giving shapes our discipleship in Christ.
Most importantly we commit to holding you in prayer; we pray that your generosity will continue to expand your moral imagination about what this place can be and do in Jesus’ name.
So whether you are regularly in the pews or on a deserted island with Wi-Fi, the invitation is yours. Come and see what God is doing here at BMPC. We’d love to have you partner with us.