People of Catonsville United Methodist Church,
It is a privilege to write to you again. I continue to feel incredibly blessed and honored to be your pastor as God leads us into a new season of life and ministry together. Today, I am writing on behalf of the stewardship committee, as this is the time of the year when we each have the opportunity to pledge our level of financial support to the church for the coming year.
In preparing this letter, I prayed that God would give me a word to focus us in this endeavor. Immediately I thought of the word “impact.” Your tithes and offerings have an impact for our church, for our community, and for the work of the kingdom of God. Through your gifts, we sustain, grow, and pursue excellence in worship, Christian education, and missions. We are also able to maintain our facility, which is not only a blessing to our congregation, but also to the community at large. Most importantly, through your generosity, people come to know the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and learn to follow him as disciples. As we approach a new year, I want to ask you to prayerfully consider your financial investment in the impactful work of our church.
When Katie and I married in the summer of 2006, I started work as an engineer, Katie entered medical school, and we began to attend CUMC. Our budget was relatively lean at that time, but it still permitted us to have one meal “out” a month. (It was nearly always Chick-fil-A!) Although we ate out less than we would have liked to, from the beginning of our relationship, we had committed ourselves to give a tithe (10% of our income) to the church. I am so glad that we made this decision early on. As our family budget has grown, our tithe has grown as well, as have the offerings that we give above our tithe. We have found great joy in knowing that our giving has impact by resourcing the missions and ministries of the church.
Humbly, I ask that you would prayerfully consider the biblical model of tithing. For me and Katie, being disciplined about our giving has helped us to grow spiritually in many ways. Our story is far from unique, and I believe that it could be multiplied many times over within our congregation. Regardless of your level of giving, I commend to you the wise counsel of Professor, Theologian, and Author, C. S. Lewis regarding Christian charitable giving:
I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our [giving] excludes them.
Enclosed [in the mailing] is a pledge card that I ask that you return to us by December 1 by mail or by placing it in the offering plate. Pledging is not a requirement, but it is a helpful tool to encourage each of us to be deliberate and disciplined in our giving. It is also helpful to the leadership of the church as we plan for the coming financial year. Please know that a detailed budget for 2020 is available in the church office if that would be of assistance to you as you plan your giving.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this letter and to prayerfully consider taking your stake in the impact of our congregation to the next level.