How to Be a Steward: A Guide to Financial Giving at St. John’s
• Give what you can, and give it cheerfully – the point isn’t the amount of your annual pledge to St. John’s, but the attitude with which it is made. Responsible and disciplined financial stewardship – giving back to God a portion of what God has given us – is critical to spiritual health. Give freely, bountifully to God’s work through the work of our parish, and we will all reap bountifully – internally, in running the parish, and externally in our many important outreach ministries.
• Proportional giving, in which one starts by pledging some percentage of one’s annual pre-tax income and then increasing that percentage in subsequent years, makes it easy to become a “cheerful giver” and to begin to let go of the hold that the “love of money” has on all of us. For an accompanying chart that shows how to begin, click here.
• Pledges can be made weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually. The pledging process is simple, with individual pledge amounts kept confidential; tax statements are issued to those who wish to deduct their pledge contributions from their taxable income.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a “pledge?”
A pledge is your commitment of a certain amount of money to help this community grow. You are welcome here, and your pledge helps us extend that welcome to others. Your pledge to St. John’s says, “I am part of this community and I want to show that this parish and its goals are important to me.”
Why does my pledge mean so much to St. John’s?
St. John’s depends almost exclusively upon pledges to fund and fulfill its mission. Indeed, unlike some denominations, we receive no money from the Diocese or National Church. Quite the opposite: we pay an annual assessment to fund the ministry of the wider church.
How do I decide how much to pledge to St. John’s?
Your giving is as personal as your prayer life, and only you can know what is right for you at this stage of your journey. The important thing is to make a heartfelt commitment. You’ll find that as St. John’s grows, you are growing too.
What is Proportional Giving?
Any regular, intentional giving of a specific amount of money is “proportional giving.” The Bible states a specific obligation to “tithe” – to give a tenth of what you have received from God back to God. Yes, that’s ten percent! For many of us the Bible sets the bar very high, too high for most of us to think about at first. So, we urge you to think about proportional giving with a small step: promise to give two or three percent each year. The average pledge to churches nationally is 2.6% and that may be a good place to start. For your convenience and information a quick-reference Proportional Giving Chart is provided at the back of this booklet.
How do I pledge?
We ask you to tell us about your pledge by completing a pledge card. Since pledges make up the overwhelming majority of our yearly budget, it is important that we know about your pledge as soon as possible so we can more accurately plan for our 2011 ministry and programs. Weekly offering envelopes are made available soon after pledges are received.
What is the average pledge at St. John’s?
The average pledge both in the Diocese of Massachusetts and at St. John’s is $1,800 per year. Nationally, the average pledge in Episcopal churches is $2,300.
With whom may I speak for additional information?
Feel free to be in touch with either Father Tim, Stewardship Chair Ray Eisenbies, or Parish Treasurer Henry Goodhue.
Three easy steps to compute your pledge amount:
Write down the amount of your annual income.
It doesn’t matter whether you use before-tax income or after; you decide. Don’t worry too much about this number. If your circumstances change you can always adjust the amount of your pledge – down or up!
2) Pick a percentage.
If you’re new to proportional giving, try using the national average of 2.6%. Or, if you’ve been pledging for awhile, take last year’s percentage and try adding 1% to it.
This is your pledge. If you want to pay in weekly installments, divide your total pledge number by 52, or if you wish to pay monthly, divide it by 12.
How do you feel about this number? Is it in proportion to the importance of God in your life? Is it in proportion to the importance of St. John’s in your life? How is it in proportion to the other ways you spend money?