Yesterday, Sunday, was the culmination of a campaign that my colleague and I launched around Christmas. We did not do it as a planned stewardship campaign, we did not do it as a council-based initiative, we did not do it because we had nothing better to do. We did it because God told us to.
After Christmas, I was praying a lot about our finances and about the negativity that seemed to surround any discussion of them….and I will fully own that negativity too. At a particularly fraught council meeting in a series of fraught ones, I had to leave to go to the bathroom. Anne Lamott says that God lives in the bathroom, and I agree. I yelled at God, there in the bathroom. I was so upset that God would put me in yet another tough position where there seemed to be no good answer, leadership-wise. I told God that I was done fighting.
God said, “That’s cute. That’s super adorable. Now get your crap together and get back in there.”
Every time I asked God what to do, God told me to stay, to hold on, to not lose hope. Even more than that, God gave us a plan. I had already been feeling like we should do some sort of pastors’ discipleship study, and it turned into a discipleship/stewardship study using Mark Powell’s Giving to God, one of the best books EVER about generosity according to the Bible.
My colleague had been talking to God too. God had said to him that we were going to, basically, ask the congregation to make up our deficit…to make up that money that we had been bleeding for two years, even though now things seemed to be stabilized. We were going to be, imagine this, super open with them, and simply let them know that generosity is a part of discipleship, and that we were challenging them to live out their discipleship for the good of all the ministries that we do.
Last night, we found out what we had received in pledges and donations. It was stunning. It’s OVER the amount we needed. OVER. By teaching, challenging, and listening to God, that’s what happened.
I am not a super financial person, and I do not want to call myself a “stewardship pastor.” But I AM, because Jesus was, and it’s a huge part of discipleship. I found out yesterday that it’s not about money so much as that people want to live into a challenge. They want to be disciples with every part of themselves, even if it’s tough, even if it’s hard. Something in us wants to be generous, and something in us wants to be a part of something greater. All we had to do was listen, and ask. And God took it over the top.