From Stewardship and Sustainable Growth

Over the past three months, we have been talking about our work and our future here at the Big Red Church. In July, we shared our dreams of what we might do together next year. And we dreamed big. In September, we met to talk about how those dreams might look in the form of a budget. There might have been a little sticker shock. But we didn’t say “we should stay the same,” or “let’s do less.” Because we are doing great things here.

And this month is our annual giving campaign, so we are encouraging each other to give, so that we can keep doing great things.

After the conversations in July, you might remember that all of the notes were used to make a word cloud. That’s a picture of the words that were written down most often in those notes. Look for that word cloud this month in our giving materials.

And each week this month in worship, inspired by that word cloud, we are showing off a different perspective on what we are doing here at the Big Red Church.

What are we doing here? We are welcoming anyone and everyone, no matter where you are in your journey. We are connecting with each other, especially intergenerationally. We are working for justice in our community and in our world, by serving those around us. And we are supporting the church and each other, especially by recognizing the importance of our children.

To help keep doing what we are doing here—and more—there are many ways you can give:

  • You can use the Givelify app on your phone to give weekly, monthly, or any time you feel moved—but setting up a recurring gift is easy, and you should do it. Just download the app, set up your payment information, and search for “First Congregational Church of Fresno.”
  • You can give by contacting the church office and setting up a regular bank-to-bank transfer or a credit card payment.
  • And you can give in the weekly offering.

But no matter how you give, every year we need you to help us by filling out a pledge card with the amount that you expect to give. Even if you only plan to give a few dollars, the pledge card is important. The pledge cards tell us how much giving we as a church can expect to receive in the next year. And that information helps us make plans, like building the budget that will be presented to the congregation at the annual meeting in January. The pledge cards are your way to be part of the plan. Please give, and please fill out the pledge card.

Everybody counts, and everything you give counts.

Thank you, from the Stewardship and Sustainable Growth Committee.

“Stewardship is Hard” — Millennials

From Kim Williams, Director of Facilities, Technology, & Communication

Every week my husband and I find ourselves in the middle of that familiar scramble from the pews. Pastor Ara will be seven and a half minutes into his sermon when we realize neither of us pulled out cash to throw into the offering plate. We’re millennials, (or, Xennials, to be micro-generationally accurate) so it’s not like we’ve ordered checkbooks in years. It’s a weekly struggle to figure out how we’re going to do the whole “treasure” part of the “Time, Talent, Treasure” trilogy.

Leaked footage of what the plate looks like after I’ve emptied the contents of my purse into it.

And a note to the ushers: if you find random dollars wadded up still attached to a receipt or an accidental fortune cookie fortune, or like, $0.59 in pennies and nickels in the plates, that probably was us. Sorry.

It’s not that we’re broke (even though we are) or lazy (“exhausted” is more accurate)— the reality is that giving isn’t something that comes easily or naturally to our generation because modes of giving haven’t kept up with our needs.

We both have two jobs, we’re full time students, we have four kids — our weekends look an awful lot like “Have you cleaned your room yet?” and “Honey, I think we’re out of toilet paper/laundry detergent/the good dark chocolate we hide on the top shelf again!” We may leave church on Sunday with good intentions to set reminders on our phones to grab cash for the plate for next Sunday, but let’s be real — the second those sugared up wiggly worms hit their car seats after coffee hour, we’re back into negotiating peace agreements between siblings and saying “no” for the 80th time to stopping at McDonalds on the way home.

What I’m about to share is going to alleviate the stress of that ATM run — and the burden of guilt at another Sunday morning of only having a gum wrapper and a Peppa Pig figurine in my purse. The Big Red Church is opening up electronic avenues of giving.

This is what it looks like to use the app. I can choose which fund I want my (outlandishly exaggerated) donation to go to, or I can give it as offering.

That’s right. Instead of sheepishly cramming $2.67 into an unmarked envelope and hoping that no one knows it was us as the usher passes the plate, I’m going to be able to just pull out my phone, open the Givelify app, and press a few buttons. It’s the ability to give what we’re able to give, rather than what I’m forced to give out of the crumb-and-toy filled bottom of my bag.

Even better, with a Givelify account, I can track my giving so I’ll know if I’ve been slacking on my stewardship pledge. I can give the second my paycheck hits my account with recurring payments, so that the dilemma of “Amazon or stewardship” won’t even come into play.

I’m thankful that the church is moving toward creative methods of giving, it’s a sign of confidence that the changing needs of the modern congregation are being heard. Setting aside tithes is hard enough, finding ways to move that money from our accounts to where it can be well-used should be easier. And I feel like we’re moving in the right direction. The only challenge now will be to pry the phone out of our two year old’s hands!

Learn more about First Congregation Church of Fresno’s leap into giving technology at the Learning Circle on July 16th immediately following worship. Lunch will be provided—of course it is suggested you give Givlify a spin with a donation to support future luncheons.