by the Rev. Phil Hirsch
It’s estimated that 20-25% of our members are directly affected by the so-called shutdown of government. In the last few days I’ve been listening to pastors and congregation members about how they are affected and what they are doing about it, particularly in this time of year when congregations often reflect on finances.
First, this crisis is giving people a chance to talk about the spiritual issues that come up in times of crisis and money. We trust in our government, in our jobs and in our financial resources – to a point. Ultimately, we are reminded that our trust is in the God who made and redeemed us. All other things will rise and fall, life itself will one day slip away, but if our faith is in God we will endure, come what may.
Some are reminding people that the Bible describes giving proportionately to what we have been given ourselves. To those without a paycheck this week, they may say “give less or nothing at this time. When the money returns to you (as we hope that it will), then you can give more again.”
To those whose paychecks are not affected, some are asking them not to yield to the fear and worry that is free-floating out there. This is a time to step out in faith and to help the church community by being solid through this time of anxiety. “You may be concerned, but God is still calling the church to mission,” one pastor said.
You may consider what practical assistance, if any, can be made especially to those who are receiving WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) assistance. Many banks and credit unions are already offering loans to people. Pray for those who are overly anxious and who are financially struggling.
Finally, if you have been planning your stewardship emphasis for October and November, below are a few ideas from our leaders:
- Talk to members who are directly affected about how to proceed.
- Address the shutdown first – before the stewardship talk or pledge cards are passed out.
- Consider saying something like: “If you or your households are directly affected by the shutdown and you don’t think you can make a commitment at this moment, please hold on to your pledge card and use it once the crisis is over and you are paid.”
- Some congregations are postponing their stewardship series altogether. There is nothing sacrosanct about the fall. You could run it in January just as well.
God’s grace, wisdom and peace be with you all.
Pastor Phil Hirsch
Director for Evangelical Mission and Assistant to the Bishop