People can be funny about money. I know some people with lots of money who act like they're barely scraping by, and I know some people who are barely scraping by who are as generous as kings and queens. When it comes to money, perception can have little to do with reality.
How much we save and spend has more to do with our mindset than our bank account. Some people have a mindset of scarcity, a "glass half empty" outlook. They expect money, time, and love to be hard to come by. These resources could run out at any time, leaving you high and dry. You need to grab them and cling to them to make sure they don't slip away. It's hard to be generous with a clinched fist.
Some people have a mindset of abundance -- a belief, a faith, really, that money, time, and love are plentiful and accessible. It's an attitude of gratitude, Sure, we have to earn our keep, but the real bottom-line is that these things are primarily gifts from God, Life, or the Universe (choose your own term). When we focus on what we're getting from life instead of what we're not getting, it's easy to feel generous and to be generous.
Congregations can operate from a mindset of scarcity or abundance, too. I have been proud of the way our congregation has cultivated a culture of abundance. This is not to say we are a congregation of rich people. Just look around on Sunday morning. We are clearly not wealthy, but it's clear that we have been blessed with enough -- enough to meet our needs as individuals and to fulfill the needs of our ministry as a congregation.
We approach our budget each year with a mindset of abundance. I have serve congregations in which the goal each year was seen as keeping the budget as close as possible to last year's. I like the way we approach our budget. We begin with our aspirations. During the canvass, we ask our members to reflect on the value of our community of faith to their lives and on what they would like us to accomplish together and then to pledge an amount reflecting their commitment to making their vision possible. Our budget is built around these pledges. This past fiscal year, we not only fulfilled 97% of our pledges, but we gave an additional $40,000 to $50,000.
We approach our collections with a mindset of abundance, as well. In January, we began giving away half of each Sunday's cash collection to a local charity or social justice organization. Before, we were giving away one Sunday's cash collection each month. Our Finance Chair, Mike Sullivan, has compared our giving under both arrangements. It turns out that before, we were giving an average of $253 per month in cash to our congregation and an average of $768 per month to charily. Now we are giving an average of $876 per month to our operating budget and $876 to charity.
It's a strange arithmetic -- the more we give away, the more we give. But it makes perfect sense … when you have a mindset of abundance.
Rev. Dr. Neal Jones