Before we begin, let’s review from the last two Sundays! Can anyone tell me the most foundational principle of the four foundational principles of Transformational Stewardship?? That’s right…Everything we have…absolutely everything we have comes from God and it belongs to God…we are not OWNERS of the stuff we have…we are STEWARDS! And what about Foundational Principle #2…can anyone remember? That’s right…Stewardship is NOT about Fundraising. If we received a $5 million gift we wouldn’t need to do anymore fundraising…but we will still need to think about/talk about/preach about and teach the principles of Transformational Stewardship.
So, building on these first two foundational principles…let’s consider Foundational Principle #3…Proportional Giving! In the old paradigm (what I call Transactional Stewardship)…what was most important was the size of the gifts that were given. Not all gifts had the same value…the larger gifts were valued more because they were able to pay for a larger chunk of the annual budget. But in the new paradigm…the Transformational Stewardship paradigm…the size of the gift is not what matters most. What matters most is what the gift represents in terms of the giver’s total income…what matters most is not the size of the gift, but what the gift actually costs the one who gives it. And this is what we call PROPORTIONAL GIVING. And the Biblical model of proportional giving is the wonderful story of the Widows Mite (found in the 21st chapter of Luke and the 12th chapter of Mark). In this story, jesus recognizes and congratulates the stewardship of a poor widow who puts two small copper coins into the offering plate (two coins worth about one penny). And Jesus makes the astonishing claim that she actually put in more than the other donors who put in large and impressive gifts…why? Because they gave out of their abundance but she gave out of her extreme poverty…everything she had! You see, it’s not the size of our gifts that matter most, but it is what those gifts represent in terms of your total income. In a few weeks you will be asked to think about your response to the 2016 annual stewardship campaign, and you will be ask to calculate your gift not in terms of the dollars you gave last year, but in terms of what percentage of your income that your gift represents…so, if last year you gave 2% of your income (which is what the average Episcopalian gives), you will be asked to prayerfully consider giving 3%…or 5%…or perhaps 10% of your income in 2016…and that’s called Proportional Giving and that is the third foundational principle of Transformational Stewardship. Next week…the 4th and final foundational principle…First Fruits Giving…stay tuned!