Friday, April 10, 2009

The Art of Pledging

Like a lot of money matters, pledging can be somewhat taboo. I don't go around asking my friends whether or not they pledge. I just assume they do what they can. I certainly don't how much they pledge. Honestly, I don't really want to know. It isn't my business. What is my business, though, is keeping the church vital and the doors open.

How do you decide what to pledge? As UUs, there are no specific tithing guidelines. There is no "rule" about what you are expected to pledge. Just mentioning tithing can set a lot of UUs on edge. Some of us grew up with very dedicated pledging families. Others of us really had no idea that people actually gave a certain percentage of their income to the church. I would be in the latter category. While I grew up in a Catholic family, we pretty much just gave in the plate on the rare occasion we went to church. My first experience of true tithing was in an interaction with a coworker. During some downtime, we were talking about paying bills and she casually mentioned that her husband always wrote a check to the church first. They tithed 10% and whatever they had left paid the bills. I was SHOCKED. Seriously? 10%?! Why?!? At that point we were not part of any religious community and I couldn't imagine handing over that much money to a church.

Let's flash forward ten years. Now I get it. Independent churches, like Unitarian Universalist congregations, really do rely on the contributions from every member. There is no larger organization supplementing our budgets. Every cent we use to pay for the lights, mortgage, salaries, heating, coffee, etc. comes from our members. I pledge (although, admittedly, no where near 10%) because I believe in the mission of our church. I really believe that we need to be there and we provide a valuable service to our congregants and the larger community. If I or you don't pledge, there will be no church. Of course, we all can't pledge the same amount. We are all in different points of our lives, but I encourage you to look at your budget, and if you can, really consider how important your congregation is and how you plan on supporting it. Every little bit makes a difference.


iBeth said...

The other thing about pledging is that your contributions can make the difference between offering appropriate wages, health benefits, etc., to church staff. It isn't fair for a church to pay wages that we would look contemptuously on Wal-Mart for paying, but that's what can happen if people are unwilling to pledge.

plaidshoes said...

Too true, Beth. Thank you for noting it. I very much like your analogy.

DanaCK said...

Thank you for reminding me...time to renew our pledge!!