December 29, 2008
Half a brick?
The economic downturn is making many of us are feel the financial pinch — especially congregations.
I recently attended a large congregation in a fairly affluent community ($66,500 per capita income).
The congregation was conducting a stewardship drive and tracking its progress toward its goal using the analogy of a brick wall. It's a great analogy. The congregation put a huge brick in the corner to represent Christ — the One who is (or should be) the cornerstone of all our efforts. As the wall is built, congregants will see progress toward the goal.
For each $5 increase in weekly giving, an individual or couple was recognized with a yellow brick. For each $10 increase in giving, the individual or couple was recognized with a green brick.
As I looked at the bricks, I was heartened to see that the congregation's youth (high schoolers and younger) had been included in the drive. For each $1 increase in weekly giving, they received half a brick.
Half a brick.
That got me thinking, and doing some math.
Remember that per capita figure? The average adult member of the congregation earns $66,500 a year. For the average member, a weekly giving increase of $5 represents an additional 0.39 percent of their annual earnings. A weekly giving increase of $10 represents an additional 0.78 percent of their yearly earnings.
And the youth? If they work 20 hours a week at the state minimum wage, they will make $6,200 a year. Their $1 giving increase represents an additional 0.83 percent of their annual earnings.
If a youth is working 40 hours a week at the minimum wage, they'll earn $12,272 a year. For these youth a $1 weekly giving increase represents an additional 0.42% of their yearly earnings.
Half a brick?
Now, I know there are exceptions. Some adult members may be unemployed or earn less than the average per capita income. And some youth may have jobs that earn more than the minimum wage. But no matter the circumstances, why the difference in recognition between youth and adult gifts?
I often hear older members of congregations wonder: "Where are the youth and young adults?"
The example above is not an answer, but a clue.
It's a clue to the value placed on contributions by youth and young adults.
When they bring their gifts to the congregation — whether their talents, their money or their volunteer service — are they welcomed and appreciated as full members of the family of God?
What do you do in your congregation to fully recognize the gifts of youth?