Stewardship, Soups, and Sweets
January 25, 2023 Creekwood United Methodist Church

Perceived Value - Deep Thoughts

Posted in Deep Thoughts

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Bowl of soup on a beige background

Let me start with the important bullet points:

This Sunday there will be a combined worship service at 11:00am. There will be no 8:30am worship this week.

Sunday school for all ages WILL happen at 9:45am

Bring your pledge card to worship to commit to God during worship. If you pledged online, you can turn in a “I Gave Online” card.

After worship, we will have Soups and Sweets for lunch!

Pledge cards will be available at the Welcome Desk and Room 110 before and after worship if you do not have one.

This week we will combine in worship at 11:00am for a blended worship style that features the praise band and the choir. Towards the end, we will have a time of remembering our baptism and turning in our financial pledge cards, in a joint action of remembering God’s commitment to us and returning our commitment to God through the church. Afterwards, Soups and Sweets is open for everyone to mingle, enjoy some good food, celebrate God’s abundance, and meet someone new.

In terms of Stewardship, let me answer some frequently asked questions about pledging:

1) What is a Pledge Card?

A pledge card is an estimate of what you will give financially over the course of 2023 to support the ministries, staff, and administration of Creekwood. It isn’t a binding contract, but a spiritual “buy-in” that you are ready to give your resources to the community of Christ, in order for the collective mission of Christ to be moved forward.

Pledge cards have fallen out of style in recent years as new generations have grown distrustful of institutions and our lives have become more fluid, so “commitment” is a harder word to say. However, pledging is more than just a budgeting tool for a local church. We can always estimate income based upon historical individual and collective giving patterns, combined with what we know about personal situations. One function of a pledge card is for budgeting. The other function is to give you a tangible way of saying, “yes, I believe in Christ and what Christ wants to do through us. And where my treasure is, there will be my heart also.”

2) Where does my money go? Is it used responsibly?

First, there is a spiritually freeing change of language I’d encourage you to make around money. Perhaps ask, “What can I do with God’s money?” It all belongs to God, right?

Let me encourage you to read through the Narrative Budget we have prepared. Now, some of this has changed as we have sought to reduce expenses, but the general truths still hold. In the Narrative Budget you can see where the money that we give to God has been allocated by the Finance Team to empower the ministries of Creekwood to share the love of God.

3) How much should I pledge?

Y’all can imagine my initial answer on this, right? “1 million dollars!” But truthfully, Paul tells the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” What you give to the church should be a joyful gift, and not a coerced offering out of guilt.

However, 2 Corinthians 9:6 (right before) says, “The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” I’ll emphasize again, this isn’t a guilt-ridden statement. It’s a matter of fact. The more that you put into something, the more you get out of it. The more you spend time at a gym, the better shape you’ll be. Likewise, what you put into your church experience and your spiritual development is what you’ll get out of it. God is the primary mover who draws you closer by grace, but in our understanding of free will, we grow more holy by diving deeper into our trust in the way of Christ and our commitment to God.

The Biblical standard is 10% of your income (or crops if you’re a farmer). This goes as far back as Genesis 14:19-20, to the law given by Moses in Leviticus 27:30, all the way to Jesus’ affirmation of the tithe in Matthew 23:23-24 (to tithe AND do works of mercy, justice, and faith). Which, again, makes our giving not about the size but about the faithfulness.

One of my favorite scriptural references on money is commonly referred to “the Widow’s Mite” found in Mark 12:41-44. Jesus is once again lamenting the showiness of certain people, and chooses to highlight one woman who drops two near-worthless coins into the Temple offering box. What Jesus tells us is that we would consider the coins as “near-worthless,” but to this woman they are a major sacrifice because she has little.

Giving is not about size, but about faithfulness and buy-in.

Pledging, therefore, is the practice of examining our priorities, our practices, and our pride. While we hope that everyone gives generously (10%) so that we can dream big as a congregation, the main point of giving is for us to consider our own trust and dependency upon God.

4) If I Give More, What Would You Do With It?

This is the million dollar question (literally).

First and foremost, there are some practical matters as we continue to recover and reimagine post COVID and other inhibiting factors.

  1. We would bring on a youth minister as fast as possible to fully invest in the lives of our young people. While we are empowering volunteers and have a highly capable staff, our current staff is stretched more than thin. An additional hire, given more funding, would be an Office Administrator to allow our pastoral and other staff to be more flexible with their time, with more emphasis on relationships than administration.
  2. We would invest in some Trustee related projects that either need attention or we anticipate needing attention in the near-future. These are the sexiest ways to spend money, but most people do enjoy air condition in Texas during Sunday school in August.
  3. We would set our ministries free to bring the Word and Love of God fully with whatever resources they need, whenever they need them.
  4. Along with other measures we are looking at to reduce debt, we would use extra funding to release ourselves from debt. Our facilities are fantastic and we wouldn’t trade them for anything (nor be able to function without many of them), but we had planned on eliminating debt in 2020, but those plans were derailed by COVID. We now need to address the situation for the present and future ministry we are called to do.

Secondly, we would be able to put money aside to dream big:

  1. I have spoken openly about creating a space where non-religious people might recognize they actually do love Jesus in a non-threatening environment. To me, this looks like renovating our old office house into a coffee shop, with live music, meaningful conversation starters, special events – and staff it with a combination of our teenagers and ranchers from Cornerstone Ranch. Perhaps you have other ideas on how to accomplish this? Or about $700,000 to get it off the ground?
  2. What is the #1 reason young families that identify with Christ don’t come to church? Sports on Sundays. What if we had facilities or programs like Upward Sports and the staff/leadership to run them? Sports becomes a devotional activity, while keeping a competitive environment. Even more, what’s to stop us from forming our own club soccer team? Or volleyball team?
  3. Mental health is a continually growing concern in our area. We have a fantastic partnership with Outreach Counseling that provides short-term, no-cost therapy, but what about a licensed counselor on staff that could go into the schools and help there? Or could make a ministry out of providing chaplaincy services to local businesses? Or simply serves as a resource for community either can’t afford counseling or would like it to be spiritually based?

Honestly, this 2nd section could go on for pages. There are so many options of ministries we could offer and missions we can do, given the buy-in and faithfulness of those who are part of Creekwood and who are not-yet part of Creekwood.

I hope you’ll pray the prayer, “What does God want to do through me?”, fill out your pledge card, and bring it Sunday. There were over 300 people who gave financially last year to Creekwood. Normally we collect around 140 pledge cards. Can we make it 200 this year?


David Lessner

Financially Support our Ministries

Check Out The Narrative Budget

Instructions To Pledge Online

Pledge Online