At Tonganoxie UMC the Finance Team is currently in the midst of leading us through a stewardship campaign to help us plan ministry and mission for 2012. Last night’s team meeting brought some interesting conversation about the language that we use. I had softened the language on some of the print materials to “estimate of giving” rather than “pledge.” I had done this as a response to two recent conversations.
In one conversation I was told, “a couple of years ago my family started pledging $100 a year. We give more than that, but we didn’t want to be getting letters from the church telling us we were behind on our pledge so we pledge a small amount.”
Another conversation began, “you’re not going to force me to pledge are you pastor? I have given the same amount the last couple of years, but don’t like to make a pledge because then it feels like one more bill I have to pay.”
It seemed to me that the word “pledge” was a barrier for some and I thought “estimate of giving” might be more helpful. However, at the meeting last night, several voices spoke up and expressed the feeling that “estimate of giving” was too soft or maybe even kind of wishy-washy. The sentiment was expressed that our financial commitments to God through the church are serious, they are pledges, they carry weight, they should be taken seriously. The number of voices echoing this sentiment nearly had me convinced that “estimate of giving” was too soft and that “pledge” was the way to go.
And then another voice at the table spoke up, “If it comes to my house and says ‘pledge’ I just throw it in the trash. I don’t like that word at all.”
The final decision was made to include both the language of “pledge” and “estimate” on some of the materials. Sunday I will be preaching about the spiritual discipline of giving, but I continue to be fascinated by the conversation from last night.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how this is handled and how things are worded in your congregation(s).