Preview of the April 2015 Issue
Sweat and fear
A spiritual and practical guide to fundraising
by Mieke Vandersall
The first time I had to ask someone for money I thought I was going to die.
I told myself I had nothing to fear. As an executive director of a religious nonprofit for almost a decade, I raised money all the time. This prospective donor, moreover, knew and respected our work. In fact, he had even asked me to ask him to give. What could be easier? And yet, there I was, riding the elevator up to his office, palms and underarms sweating, visibly shaking, and just wanting it to be over. I was convinced that he would be angry with me for the request.
Of course, not only was he not angry, he was grateful for my invitation.
It was at that moment that I knew, deep down, that I had some serious work to do, some unlearning and some relearning, both emotionally and theologically. I also was going to need some practical skills that no one ever taught me in seminary. And so I began. I began to learn that, as Henri Nouwen says: “We must not let ourselves be tricked into thinking that fundraising is only a secular activity. As a form of ministry, fundraising is as spiritual as giving a sermon, entering a time of prayer, visiting the sick, or feeding the hungry.”Continue reading
Lessons for life: teaching kids about money
By tailoring financial messages to the age of a child, parents can encourage generous giving and responsible saving.
by Becky D’Angelo-Veitch
I stood open-mouthed, looking at the envelope. There on the kitchen counter sat my parents’ pledge, ready for church the next morning. As a 13-year-old, I hadn’t really thought about those little envelopes tucked in my dad’s jacket pocket each Sunday. Although I knew my parents gave money to the church, I hadn’t bothered to wonder how much. Then I saw it, on that little line after the dollar sign: a figure that was larger than any sum I’d ever been given for a day at the mall. “You give that much to the church?” I said with all the righteous indignation of a teen denied the most recent fashion craze. Although I don’t remember exactly what my mother said in reply, I can remember the message: It’s not all about you.
In a different house in a different town in that same era, my future in-laws diligently saved exactly twice the cost of a new color TV. My husband, Robert, remembers this because his parents believed in making a charitable donation equal to the cost of each big purchase, including that TV.
These moments from our childhood have stayed with us. Robert and I are humbled, grateful, and challenged by the examples that our parents set for us. Now parents ourselves, we strive to set examples for our children and give them the tools to be both responsible savers and generous givers. It’s a fine line to walk every day, and, like so many others, we struggle with trying to always make the right choice.Continue reading
‘Where does my church offering go?’
Your money’s journey from plate to ministry
by Emily Enders Odom
Ever wondered where your church offering goes?
Your church’s operating budget is a snapshot of its mission and ministry. To paraphrase Luke 12:34, where your church’s treasure is, there its heart is also.
So if your church’s annual budget reflects its statement of faith, you may wonder who in the congregation undertakes the crucial responsibility of developing it. That duty falls to your congregation’s session—the pastor, associate pastor(s), and ruling elders—or the session’s designees on an appointed budget or finance committee.
As an active church member, you can review the budget that has been adopted by your session at your annual congregational meeting, where the session’s budget is presented. So if you are wondering where your financial pledge goes—and whether the money you give each week supports the mission not only of your congregation but of the presbytery, synod, and the General Assembly—simply study your church’s annual budget. If you’re still unsure, ask questions.Continue reading
Children’s sixth sense
New approaches promise to deepen children’s faith and broaden congregational mission.
by Candace C. Hill
Shy and quiet, Vanessa often kept to herself. And for some congregations, that shyness might have meant seeing yet another child slowly drift away from the church—but not Vanessa’s congregation. They were determined to help Vanessa find her ministry.
After hearing the news of the earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people in Haiti, Vanessa was moved. She wondered what she could do to help. So she researched the needs, established a goal, and made a plan. She then asked adults in her congregation how she could involve her faith community.Continue reading
One in Mission
A wealth of possibilities
By thinking of money in terms of ministry, we can be part of a ‘generous undertaking.’
by Linda Valentine
Money—is it “a root of all kinds of evil” or a resource for doing God’s work? It depends, of course, on how it is acquired and how it is used. Why, then, do we have such a negative view of money and wealth? So went the provocative conversation Sarah Sarchet Butter led with our Presbyterian Mission Agency leadership and funds-development team last December.
Sarah has combined her theological and MBA training to develop a helpful approach for interpreting Scripture. In her ministry as a pastor, she has sought to connect biblical and Reformed theology with the practical leadership applications needed for the church to thrive.
Sarah points to the teachings of Paul in 2 Corinthians 8–9, which resonate powerfully with the hallmarks of the Reformed tradition, grace and gratitude, in connection with the subject of money.
“Paul had an incredibly rich theology of grace rooted in gratitude for who Christ is and what Christ does for Christ’s people,” Sarah says.Continue reading
Giving really is a joy
by Angie Andriot
They say money can’t buy happiness, but research indicates this may not be entirely true. The trick is to focus on what you give, rather than what you get. So where should you go to “purchase” this elusive state of joy?
The answer: your church, charities, community donation drives—anyplace you can donate money. The key word? Donate. Those who donate money tend to be happier than those who don’t.
According to our research, Presbyterians in households that have pledged money to their church are happier than those in nonpledging households.Continue reading
Taking it to the street
Medical ministry brings healing and hope to the homeless of Pittsburgh.
by Sue Washburn
James Withers felt a calling to do something different with his medical skills. As an inner-city doctor, he longed to find a way to give direct medical attention to those who are often excluded from traditional care. So he created Operation Safety Net, a medical ministry that reaches people living on the street in Pittsburgh in ways that honor and respect them as people of God.
Withers prepared for the endeavor in a place that felt most natural, the library of Second United Presbyterian Church of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. He checked out the book 52 Ways to Help Homeless People and learned that ministry to men and women on the street doesn’t just help those being ministered to; it also transforms those doing the ministry.Continue reading
An easy-to-read, in-depth handbook that puts loads of vital ministry information on dozens of subjects at your fingertips. This one-stop reference is ideal for congregations, presbyteries, and individuals looking for creative ways to improve their ministry.
This special issue is a must-read for everyone who wants to better understand young adults and engage them in worship, education, and service.
Presbyterian Today’s 2015 Lenten Devotional—Draw Near—contains Scripture readings, meditations, prayers, and reflection questions for each day of the Lenten season. Order now.
NEW THIRD EDITION. Presbyterians Today’s special issue and guidebook — “Welcome to the Presbyterian Church!” — is a wonderful introduction and overview of all things Presbyterian.
What Presbyterians Believe 2
Volume 2 of Presbyterians Today’s new special issue and guidebook—What Presbyterians Believe 2—brings you even more of our most popular articles all about Presbyterian beliefs, worship, and practice.