Many churches have used Herb Miller’s Consecration Sunday. This program, marketed through Cokesbury, shows congregations a step-by-step way to lead to a Sunday that focuses on stewardship education.
On Consecration Sunday, members are invited to present cards that indicate the amount they plan to give to the church during the coming twelve months. Miller insists that these cards not be called “pledge” cards, but rather “estimate of giving” cards. This is one reason Miller insists a church buy his cards from Cokesbury. They are too inexpensive to be a money maker for either Miller or Cokesbury. It’s a quality-control issue and it makes sure the term “estimate of giving” is used.
Some persons are reluctant to sign a “pledge card” because they view it as a binding, or legal “contract” rather than what it is--simply a statement of intent. Good stewardship programs remind parishioners that one’s estimate of giving can be changed at any time. If someone is laid-off, or loses his or her job, for example, it may be appropriate to lower one’s estimate of giving mid-year. Conversely, if someone receives a big promotion and/or an unexpected increase in income, one should feel free to revise one’s estimate of giving upward!
It may be helpful, regardless of whether one calls it a “pledge” card or an “estimate of giving” card, for congregations to be reminded that this is not a legal obligation, but simply a way of being honest with oneself, with God, and with the Christian community.
- Ted Leach