My mother has a shadow box coffee table that she’s had since I can remember. It has a glass top and is lined with velvet. As with any shadow box, this one houses family keepsakes like medals from school contests, class rings, honor society pins, and a bracelet I received as a toddler. It also has a small gold mesh purse that my mother used to take her nickels to church each Sunday. I loved looking at the purse when I was a child. It was too fragile to play with, but I thought it was beautiful.
A few years ago, we were sitting in the pew during stewardship season and I handed my children pledge cards to fill out. They had always put coins or dollars in the collection plate but they had not made a commitment to give and I wanted them to develop the practice of giving. So they each dutifully filled out the card, made a pledge, and checked the box “Send weekly envelopes for this pledge”. Now each quarter we receive two sets of envelopes with their names on them.
At our dinner table tonight, I asked them why they feel it is important that they pledge. One said that it helps the church track the money and provides better organization by knowing who is giving. The weekly envelopes remind my child of her promise to give. The money pays for staff salaries and activities like mission trips. And it provides opportunities to be with people she cares about. Our other child likes the recognition of having his name attached to the money. He said that pledging helps the church gauge how much money will be coming in to set the budget. And the benefit that the church provides is a community through EYC and Sunday School where you have fun but learn to respect and love each other, and in doing so, you love God.
Budgets, salaries, organization? I was surprised to know how much my children understood about the workings of the church and their need to feel a part of it. I would encourage my fellow EYC parents to ask your children about giving and what they receive in return. You may be surprised at their answers.
In our family, attending the EMC dinner and filling out our pledge cards have become annual events. And though their envelopes may not be as beautiful as my mom’s gold purse, the purpose is the same – a reminder of our gifts to our church, our community, and God.