Dear St. Paul’s Community,
Over the last couple months, I’ve had the privilege of participating in a course for an Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising. As part of the class, each participant must design and complete a final project in their congregation. Do you know what that means? You get to help me with my homework!!
But in all seriousness, we at St. Paul’s have struggled with our relationship to money for some time. It’s very easy to view money as a scarce resource that must be carefully guarded and spent only for the worthiest causes. However, this way of thinking limits our ability to do ministry and dream about how God is at work and calling us to live within our church and community. It also affects morale and leads to decreased giving in the church. And, perhaps most concerning, this way of thinking tends to lead us to focus only on ourselves and our own needs: We need money to pay the bills, meet the budget, keep the doors open and survive. We begin to put ourselves first above all else.
Meanwhile, God calls us outward. We are called and sent out into the community to serve others, proclaim the good news, and care for the creation that God has entrusted to us. And, as we go, God promises to provide for us along the way. Does God promise to provide only enough so that we will be able to just scrape by? No, God promises to provide abundantly, and God calls us to trust in that abundance.
This is the reality of our world. There is plenty to go around. Rather than building bigger barns, God calls us to share generously the gifts that we have been given. Therefore, my project seeks to begin a cultural shift at St. Paul’s in regard to our relationship with money. Rather than approaching money as a scarce resource used to pay bills, I will be engaging various groups within the congregation to explore and live into God’s abundance, trusting that God will provide, and inviting others to join in the mission that we share.
This project consists of four components Knowledge + Message + Action + Celebrate
Knowledge: I will engage church leadership in a study of Mark Elsdon’s book, We Aren’t Broke: Uncovering Hidden Resources for Mission and Ministry. Council officers, council members, and finance committee members will join me in this study to explore the ways that a culture of scarcity is damaging to the church and how to live more deeply into a culture of abundance. We will address the difference between corporate and faith-based approaches to finance, and how to continue to be good stewards of our resources. We’ll apply our learning to St. Paul’s and seek practical ways to bring about this cultural shift. This is already a large group of people for a book study, but if you are particularly interested in participating, please let me know.
Message: I have already been working together with several council members to create a Mission Budget to help us understand how expenses like the water bill, staff salaries, and cleaning service enable us to do ministry. This project is nearly complete, and you’ll receive a copy of our Mission Budget with your 6-month giving statement in a couple weeks.
Action: In mid-July, our stewardship leaders will be introducing the Growing through Giving Campaign! Summer tends to be a difficult time financially in churches as people are away on vacation, busy with other activities, and don’t always continue their offerings when they’re away. Additionally, as you read last month, 42% of Americans identify themselves as impulsive givers (see my June 2023 article for more information). This is an opportunity to reach out to them along with the whole congregation to inspire generosity and excitement for the mission we share, and raise money to support our ministry. Check out the article about the campaign for more information!
Celebrate: At the end of the Growing through Giving Campaign we will give thanks for everyone’s generosity and celebrate with a picnic (date TBA). There will be incentives for reaching various goals, which will be incorporated into the picnic, and we’ll be sure to have a blast!! We will give thanks for God’s good gifts and celebrate that we are sharing in mission together. If you would like to help me coordinate this event, please let me know!
It is my vision that these four components will inspire the leadership and members of our community to live into a cultural transformation of trusting in God’s abundance. As always, a full cultural shift takes years, but with a strong start, St. Paul’s will be prepared to face challenges faithfully, live more deeply into our mission of CELEBRATING GOD’S LOVE THROUGH SERVICE, and focus our attention outward to the community around us.
I invite you to pray for St. Paul’s during this time, that we be guided by the Holy Spirit, inspired with wisdom, and move forward in love, generosity and service. I also invite you to partner with me and the council during this project. Ask questions, read our notes and letters, join in the campaign, and plan to celebrate with us.
Together, we will walk by faith, hope for the future, and love one another and our community.
Rev. Jessica Hahn
**Let me know if you would like to read the full, 3-page project proposal, and I will supply you with a copy.