by Richard Cabes
When Corrie and I were first married and living in Plano, Tx, we attended the only Episcopal church we could find in the area. It was “Episcopal” only in that it belonged (then) to the Diocese of Dallas and respected the Anglican liturgy, but its theology was low, fundamentalist evangelism. We weathered it for a while to attend their young adult small groups before being rescued by “the Fig” in Richardson. One of the things this Plano parish did was a monthly altar call of members to talk about their pledging. As uncomfortable as this cultish pressure was, these talks did at least give me an idea of how others viewed pledging. I remember one man talking about starting somewhere, with a small amount that he could fit into his budget. Every year, he committed himself to increase his pledge by 1%. He claimed that the more he and his wife gave each year, the more the blessing in their lives multiplied. Now, for all I know, his speech may have been written by the rector or warden, but there was one thing that stayed with me: stewardship is facilitated when you just start somewhere and stretch yourself in small amounts to increase your commitment over time.
Stewardship of course, is not just about money. While the money makes ministry possible, there is a phenomenon that occurs when you give more in time and talent. That mystery is, the more you commit yourself to a church family, the more you receive a growing desire to ensure the future of that family. I can’t find anywhere in the New Testament that Jesus charged St. Peter with building four walls with a bell tower and holding monthly vestry meetings; but he did tell Peter to “grow my church”. That church body is what Jesus calls us into, communion with the Father and each other, so that “God’s kingdom may come on earth, as in heaven”. Stewardship is about bringing God into our community and allowing the kingdom to grow. Sometimes it takes money, often it takes a lot of sweat and laughs and tears, and it always takes time. The funny thing is, the mystery is, this small mustard seed of starting somewhere begins to blossom. The more you get caught up in it, the more you can’t imagine a time you were never doing it, and your ministry becomes much greater, and continues much longer than any legacy you could have attempted on your own.