Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. - Philippians 4:1
I miss being in our sanctuary, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the tiny rituals that made up my worship experience. One thing I used to do was bow towards the altar while we blessed the bread and drink for holy communion. I know my lack of height usually made that hard to see. But when we gathered in the building to be fed by Jesus, I bow to say thank you. I’m grateful I get to be your pastor and that my family is part of CLC. When I bow, I thank Jesus for being with us and for all the amazing ways he gives you God’s love. Yet the act of saying thank you also reminds me of those moments when the harshness of life and the reality of sin made me feel as if God didn’t see me. But when God’s word of promise and hope emerges from all of our lips, I’m able to spiritually rise up and become the person God wants me to be. Together, we remind each other that we’ve been sealed with the cross of Christ, forever.
On Sunday, November 8, Christ Lutheran Church will launch our 2021 Stewardship Drive. And if I’m honest, it feels weird to ask you to pledge during a pandemic. The Stewardship Committee knows how uncertain, fragile, and hard 2020 has been. Our last worship service in the sanctuary was March 8th and we are still figuring out when we can safely return inside. Every time we’ve canceled doing the ministry we love to do, we’ve mourned as a community. We’ve also shed tears because we’re living through layoffs, hardships, illness, and even deaths. Together, we’ve helped each other continue to follow Jesus during this difficult time. Your prayers, phone calls, outdoor visits, the support of food pantries, and your embrace of new ways to worship has spiritually impacted everyone around you. None of this is easy but your love of Jesus makes it look like is. The committees who keep an eye on the financial health of our church have been amazed at your continued gifts. We get to be this vibrant faith community because you are a part of it. We all miss doing the things we’ve always done and there will be a day when this pandemic is over. But you’ve shown each other that we are Christ’s church and that we will continue to stand firm with the Lord.
This year, we’re encouraging you to make a pledge even if you’ve never pledged before. Below is an FAQ with more information. On behalf of the Stewardship Committee, I want to thank you for being the church and for your willingness to change. Please return your pledge card and Time and Talent Sheet as soon as you can. I know, with Jesus’s help, we will continue to rise up to every situation we face.
Pastor Marc and The Stewardship Committee
A Stewardship Video Series (as seen on Facebook)
Frequently Asked Questions
What does stewardship mean?
Stewardship is most often defined as supervising or managing something entrusted to one’s care. In Jesus’ time, a steward was the manager of the household. The steward was not the owner but rather a trusted administrator of the owner’s property. We are God’s stewards of ALL things inherited and entrusted to us. Stewardship is the act of “stewarding” the earth, our wealth, our time, our possessions and our bodies. Being God’s steward is a role and a responsibility given to us through baptism and faith.
How does my financial gift help the church?
The church is more than just a building. The church is also people who are called by God to worship, pray, and reflect Jesus’ love into the world. Your financial gift enables us to worship with a pastor, sing, study, and be supported by a facility that is well maintained. It also allows the community to live out their faith through service projects, special events, and more. 95% of our budget is supported by the financial gifts of the people. Your giving allows your fellow followers of Jesus to make Northern New Jersey into a better place.
Who will see my pledge?
Your financial pledge is secure and confidential. It will only be seen by our financial secretary Pat Daub and our stewardship data coordinator Jeff Louis. Your Time and Talent sign-ups will be shared with our committees and with Pastor Marc.
How do I fill out the Time and Talent Sheet?
When you look at your T&T sheet, the first thing you should do is pray. Let the Spirit guide you as you discover new ways to live your faith out loud. It might take several days of mulling over the T&T sheet before you return it. Give yourself space to pray and think because your gifts will help your church follow Jesus is a more faithful way.
I give regularly but I do not usually pledge. Why should I pledge this year?
Your faithfulness to God through the support you give CLC is amazing. We couldn’t be who God wants us to be without you. During this pandemic, we’ve all changed our normal routines so that we can keep each other safe. You’ve been flexible and helped each of us find new ways to be the church. We will need to stay flexible through 2021. Your pledge will help others know that their faith community is financially secure. If, for example, you usually make a year-end gift during CLC’s Christmas Eve worship, consider making that same gift electronically. Our normal has changed but Christ’s love for you hasn’t.
Why did everyone in my household receive a pledge letter and card?
It is our tradition at CLC that every confirmed member (single or coupled) be provided the opportunity to give. As a voting member of the church, you are empowered to make important decisions about the life of our church. We invite families to fill out their pledge cards and T&T sheets together. Even when a financial gift is not possible, your pledge is still important. We invite you to fill out the card, regardless of what you can give. And we invite everyone - including confirmed members and even little kids - to know that their friends at CLC need their time and talents.
How much should I give?
In the Bible, there are many different metrics used to answer this question. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the gift of thanks can represent 5%, 10%, or even 20% of someone’s income. Jesus famously told a young person to sell everything they have and give it to the poor. Your pledge is between you and God. It should be large enough so that you actually have to plan for it. And it should reflect our call to be God’s stewards as we respond to God’s generosity. If you’re interested in increasing your pledge, consider growing it by 5% to 10% this year (for example, if you gave 200 a month in 2020, you can aim for 210 or 220 for 2021). If you are interested in a more structured response to budgeting, you can also consider following the 10-10-80 model (10% to give, 10% to save, 80% for everything else). If you need more spiritual resources to help you make your pledge, please contact Pastor Marc.
Can I give electronically?
Yes! Visit our website at www.clc4u.com/give to learn how you can support CLC. At the moment, over 50% of our monthly financial giving is given electronically.
What if my life situation changes after I pledge?
You are allowed to change your pledge at any time. A new job, a retirement, a change in household expenses, or an unexpected windfall is a perfect opportunity to increase your pledge of time and resources. We also know that life happens and that you might need to lower what you can give. Just reach out to our financial secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let us know of any financial changes or contact the church office at 201-391-4224 if you need to change your T&T sheet.
What if I won’t be able to make my pledge until December?
We understand how difficult it is to know what 2021 will be like while living through this pandemic. Even though our pledge drive will wrap up on November 29, we will accept pledge cards in December and January. Last year, a pledge was even declared in February. We ask that you turn pledges in as early as possible to help for our planning, but we also understand if that isn’t feasible.
Can I pledge online?
We're continuing to find ways to allow you to submit your pledge confidentially during this pandemic. If mailing your pledge/time and talent sheet isn't possible, consider emailing a copy of the form to our Financial Secretary (email@example.com) and Pledge Coordinator (JLouis@verisk.com). You can download a PDF of the pledge and time and talent sheet by clicking here.