“You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last…”
Throughout the biblical story, the image of a vineyard is used to symbolize God’s people. It is an apt metaphor as the tending of a vineyard requires relentless and intimate attention. From coaxing roots deep into rocky soil, to training the vines onto trellises, to protecting the fruit from animals to constant pruning of the leaves and canes, the work of a vineyard master is never done. And it is never easy. But what results…might just change your life!
As disciples of Jesus, we are both the produce of God’s work and co-laborers with Christ in stewarding the vineyard.
There are many ways we steward the vineyard of the church and, to speak plainly, one of them is with our money. And this is a delicate conversation.
That God calls his people to support the church by contributing their finances to ensure its health and ministry is clear. Scripture speaks to this truth constantly. Indeed, how God’s people relate to money and to the virtue of generosity is a frequently used barometer for spiritual health and maturity. God expects his people to hold wealth loosely. Not to shun it; but neither to cling to it. Like all instrumental goods God provides, money is – first and foremost! – to be used for God’s purposes.
Thus what makes this conversation awkward is not scripture’s lack of clarity, but rather the abuse of scripture to enrich the church and its leaders at the cost of the people’s deprivation. It is a tragic truth that many religious organizations have used the Bible to manipulate people into giving beyond their means.
And because Canvas is – very, very self-consciously – a congregation founded to help heal the wounds so many have suffered at the hands of the larger church, we have great sensitivity around asking for money. We also have a deep commitment to never seeking more than we need nor stockpiling for the future. And we have no intention of changing either of these!
But at this point in Canvas’s life, we do need to talk a bit more directly about giving.
PLEDGING FOR 2024
Just as the needs of a vineyard never end, so the church must attend to the daily work of the gospel. Like any organization, there are staff we want to care for, rent to pay, insurance requirements, utilities, curricula, software subscriptions, streaming costs, computers to fix, copier paper to buy… All these comprise the annual operating expenses of Canvas. And all are subject to the annual increases we all experience.
And the way Canvas pays for these expenses is with the on-going financial donations of people like you.
One can give to Canvas at any time! But once a year we ask everyone to take a moment to prayerfully make a pledge (just like you do to NPR or PBS). These are not contracts. They are not obligations that can’t be adjusted. They are simply a way people like you inform our session (the ordained leaders of the congregation) what you think you can contribute to the year ahead. It is a way for you and for Canvas to plan, to set goals. But before we send you to the pledging link…
10th Anniversary special offering
This year, in addition to our normal pledge campaign for the year ahead, we are asking for and additional contribution. (And yes, it’s hard for us to ask.)
But as Canvas celebrates 10 years, we arrive at the point in a traditional congregation’s life when the “building fund” typically begins. This is when a church starts the long process of building a campus and the longer process of raising the millions to pay for it. And the good news is: Canvas has no intention of ever building a campus! So we don’t foresee ever needing to raise millions. But, while we don’t need buildings, we are at that point where we do have some upcoming capital expenses (technology needs updating, equipment needs replacing…). And we also need to build our operating fund reserves.
In our efforts to be very sensitive around asking for money and keeping our requests to only what we need, Canvas has a very small operating reserve. And in the early days, when no one knows if we’ll be here in 3 years, it made sense to live day-to-day, year-to-year. But now that it seems Canvas is here for the longer term, it would do us a world of good to increase our reserves for those times when giving dips (i.e., summer and early fall) and when we face an unexpected expense (think video equipment or moving our nursery!).
Given inflation, we expect our 2024 revenue needs to increase by roughly 10% over 2023. And there are two ways we would love to address this:
- For those of you who are already pledged givers, if you are able, we are asking if you can increase your pledge by 7-10%. This is especially true if you have the ability during seasons such at this to give some extra in a way that others simply can’t. Indeed, from the first days of the church, there has been an extra dependence upon a few people of means. From Mary, the mother of John Mark in Jerusalem to Lydia in Philippi, those who have been blessed with an abundance have been called upon to support the ministry of the church.
- If you already give-regularly to Canvas, but have not historically pledged, would you pretty please do so??? It is a help to us all. It helps the session plan and it will help you remember that our culture and the culture of the Kingdom see money very differently (as a way of seeing everything differently!). We live in a time and place that is easily fooled into believing that money can buy Shalom. And it can’t. But using money to help create a different way of being in the world, that pays dividends galore!
- If you are not a regular giver to Canvas, what’s holding you back? If you are in a difficult financial place, we get it. And we do not want you to give if doing so places you in true hardship. (Indeed if you are in hardship, let us know!). But if you are not in a a place of financial insecurity, what is the hesitation? For many of us, it’s a combination of newness to the idea and an uncertainty about deepening our connection to a particular people and place. To contribute is to join the ranks, to be part of the family, to share in the mission in a more tangible and immediate way. And if you think Canvas is legitimately engaged in the work of Jesus, then deeping that commitment would be a good thing, yeah? (And if you have questions about Canvas’s stewardship of what’s donated, please ask! Our books are 100% open at all times!
As for the 10th Anniversary Special Offering, our goal is to raise $50,000 for our operating reserves. We will gladly raise more than this as larger reserves means more sleep for Debbie, the session and our beloved treasurer, John Bowers! But $50,000 would help immensely.
Knowing all this, would you take a prayerful moment and then click below?
Thank you for your help and we pray that you will find giving to be a joy, one that deepens your connection to Canvas and, most importantly, to God!