From Pastor Bill Bills
Upon joining a United Methodist congregation, members vow to support the congregation with prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. Each time someone joins the church current members renew their commitment to those same vows. A few times each year we have occasion to renew our commitment to support one another with our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.
We may think of our gifts in a few ways. A gift may be any skill or talent we have that we can share with the congregation. This could be anything from plumbing and electrical skills to accounting or musical talents. Such gifts are valuable to our congregation. Time is a valuable commodity. Many of us wish we had more discretionary time. Our time can be a great gift.
Another obvious and important gift is money. Every church needs money for basics such as facility maintenance, salaries and benefits, missions and programs. Financial gifts are needed for the annual operating budget, the endowment, the building fund and other special needs.
For the past week I have been listening to the spring fund drive on Michigan Radio. Thinking about our membership vows causes me to listen to the spring fund drive differently. One announcer said that only six percent of the audience actually pledges. Ninety-four percent use the service without supporting it. During the pledge drive they highlight the services they provide. They also set an hourly goal for how many pledges they need that hour. They also say that donors should decide for themselves how much to give. Then they mention that most people give ten or twenty dollars per month. They are pretty specific about their programs and their needs. They share a lot of information. They aren’t shy about asking for pledges.
Church members vow to support our congregation with their gifts. This includes time, talents and financial resources. University UM Church usually does a fall campaign, but not a spring and a fall campaign. UUMC's fall campaign is pretty low-key, especially compared to other non-profits like Michigan Radio. Our church doesn’t suggest dollar amounts and we don’t set pledge goals. We do hope people give thought and prayer to their vow to support one another with their gifts. Our time, our talents and our financial resources are all necessary for effective ministry.