Thursday, May 10, begins the big Woodbury Lions Club Garage Sale and Resurrection Lutheran will be participating. The church is being transformed into a market place of new and used items. I took a few minutes this morning to test a donation.
The test remined me of a discussion with fellow pastors about stewardship. It was triggered by one pastor’s comment that his congregation does not “do” special fundraisers like car washes or garage sales. “Our congregation has adopted the stewardship philosophy that all funding comes through the offering plate. Our members believe in the mission of the congregation and they donate directly to its budget.”
I agree that the bulk of the stewardship giving needs to be through the offering plate or direct contributions to the congregation. This has become more sophisticated with on-line giving and electronic fund transfers such as Simply Giving from Thrivent. We recently added QR codes to our bulletins so that people can use their smart phones on Sunday Morning to make contributions. I am delighted with how many members of Resurrection Lutheran stepped up in March to make special contributions for our High School youth who will be attending the ELCA Youth Gathering this summer. Direct contributions remain the primary way people give to their congregation.
As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth about being generous in giving,
This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. (2 Corinthians 9:13, The Message)
Still I think there is a place for special fund-raisers like the Garage Sale. It allows a variety of people to participate actively in a congregational ministry, thus building relationships. It promotes the recycling of various items, eliminating some of the waste that goes in landfills, a form of environmental stewardship. It also allows new and old residents to visit our church building; last year I met two people who later came back for our outdoor worship. We also provide a service to the shoppers by having clean restrooms and shelter. The garage sale has become a unique form of ministry for our congregation.
I certainly don’t want our church building and volunteers to do this every week. It is neither our primary mission nor our primary form of stewardship. There will probably come a day when Resurrection will not participate. Still, for three days this week, Resurrection Lutheran will be a place of friendly hospitality and great deals. Check it out.
Lord Jesus, guide each of us to be good stewards of our time, talents and treasures.