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General discussions discuss Capital Campaign and Pledge Cards. in the General Forums forums; Newbie here! I searched for this topic but was unable to find any discussions on this subject. My question is simply: Are pledge cards biblical? ...

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    MississippiBaptist's Avatar
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    Capital Campaign and Pledge Cards.

    Newbie here!

    I searched for this topic but was unable to find any discussions on this subject.

    My question is simply: Are pledge cards biblical?

    To be honest I do not understand what is going on when the elders of a church ask the people to pray and fill out a pledge card and then SIGN it. I certainly understand the notion of first fruits but that was based on what a person had in their possession, not on what they 'believe' God will provide for the next 3 growing seasons. It feels more like a secular agreement (i.e. mortgage) than an act of worship. The more it is 'explained' to me the more it seems like a secular fund raising plan. Not a spiritual act of worship. Opinions?
    Darryl
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    Ironically, of the churches I am familiar with, the two churches that I felt were the best stewards of their finances (Faith Presbyterian, Gainesville, FL (at least in the 70's) and Riveroaks Reformed Presbyterian, Germantown, TN), looked at the pattern of giving and did not use pledge cards.
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    I'm not aware of pledge cards being specifically addressed in Scripture nor a principle that would directly apply.

    They might be a planning tool, based on faith commitment. I'm not sure they would even be legally, let alone morally binding- if they are worded more as by faith promises.

    As a tool, they might further a biblical principle, e.g. building without debt (now that is a biblical precept).
    Scott
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    ITA with you guys. Here is the modus operandi of pledge cards. You run a campaign to generate pledges and then you build based on the pledges. Now, the particular building committee gets to determine how much of the pledged money will actually be realized ( It is somewhere between 50% and 75%). I really am stuggling with this one. I want to support the leadership but this whole fund raising campaign has me unsettled. As a PP stated, churches with 'good' stewardship do not implement such plans.

    If I put down a $$$$ amount am I being faithful to God or testing Him?
    Darryl
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    Quote Originally Posted by MississippiBaptist View Post
    If I put down a $$$$ amount am I being faithful to God or testing Him?
    Difficult to answer a fact specific, dependent situation.

    If you have present ability and a plan to manage (budget), it might be quite reasonable to pledge that amount.

    Concerns about planning for only a 50-75% realization might be based on good data, but that would require more information.
    Scott
    PCA
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    Post Tenebras Lux; "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." - Revelation 21:4

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    Scottish Lass's Avatar
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    You could also give without pledging. This might free you to give with a cheerful heart, might "pick up the slack" of those who aren't fulfilling their pledges because they've moved, lost a job, etc., and might not bind your conscience.
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    Is the pledge suppose to be like an oath or a vow? Are they looking for commitment outside of the giving or tithe? Maybe they are just trying to get a sense of what the congregation has in mind and how to plan for the future. I belonged to a Church that grew very fast and space was needed. We as a congregation had a few meetings concerning this so that the congregation would grow in understanding and so that the Elders could gain wisdom on what means they possibly had to work with.

    If they are looking for an oath to perform or a vow you might look into the Confessions concerning this.

    Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 22
    London Baptist Confession of Faith. Chapter 23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scottish Lass View Post
    You could also give without pledging. This might free you to give with a cheerful heart, might "pick up the slack" of those who aren't fulfilling their pledges because they've moved, lost a job, etc., and might not bind your conscience.
    This is what I have done in the past.

    ---------- Post added at 06:34 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:32 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by PuritanCovenanter View Post
    Is the pledge suppose to be like an oath or a vow? Are they looking for commitment outside of the giving or tithe? Maybe they are just trying to get a sense of what the congregation has in mind and how to plan for the future. I belonged to a Church that grew very fast and space was needed. We as a congregation had a few meetings concerning this so that the congregation would grow in understanding and so that the Elders could gain wisdom on what means they possibly had to work with.

    If they are looking for an oath to perform or a vow you might look into the Confessions concerning this.

    Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 22
    London Baptist Confession of Faith. Chapter 23
    That is what I am really asking. What is the pledge? It just seems important to get people's signatures, as if obedience to God is insufficient reason for members to give. IMO.
    Darryl
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    I think pledge cards are a little cheesy myself, but I have seen churches that have cards you check to indicate that you were saved that day, so I guess a pledge card is not all that bad.
    Bill
    Pitching my tent and building my altar
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    It sounds like you guys are unfamiliar with the process. It may be more Baptist. Or more specifically, it may be the way 'in debt' churches operate. Your input is helpful.
    Darryl
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    No, I am very familiar. A church makes a decision to go into debt to build a buiding, and then asks its members to pledge to give extra above and beyond their tithe to help pay it off. I think debt is generally a bad idea, but I also understand that sometimes a growing church needs a new building yesterday and debt is the only practical way to build it in a timely fashion. There is certainly nothing wrong with asking people to give more to their churches, many don't give enough anyway, but I think the idea of a "pledge"card is a little off base because giving to the church should be between God and the individual. I personally feel that if a church is outgrowing their current space, then a new church plant is the most appropriate course of action instead of just expanding the existing church. A new church plant will reach new people and is generally much less expensive than a new building because the new church can meet in a rented space until there are enough members to support a building. If a church feels they must expand by using debt, they should of course make the members fully aware of everything and then trust that If God ordained it, than God will provide for it. In either case, pledge cards are just unneccesary.
    Bill
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill The Baptist View Post
    No, I am very familiar. A church makes a decision to go into debt to build a buiding, and then asks its members to pledge to give extra above and beyond their tithe to help pay it off. I think debt is generally a bad idea, but I also understand that sometimes a growing church needs a new building yesterday and debt is the only practical way to build it in a timely fashion. There is certainly nothing wrong with asking people to give more to their churches, many don't give enough anyway, but I think the idea of a "pledge"card is a little off base because giving to the church should be between God and the individual. I personally feel that if a church is outgrowing their current space, then a new church plant is the most appropriate course of action instead of just expanding the existing church. A new church plant will reach new people and is generally much less expensive than a new building because the new church can meet in a rented space until there are enough members to support a building. If a church feels they must expand by using debt, they should of course make the members fully aware of everything and then trust that If God ordained it, than God will provide for it. In either case, pledge cards are just unneccesary.
    Bill, You certainly sound familiar with the process. Our emails crossed on the last round. I didn't realize the process was not as common in other churches. Your view on giving is between the member and God is good. This is not a case of exploding growth but steady growth. Had we not been carrying a debt equal to our yearly budget then a capital campaign would not be necessary. Thanks!
    Darryl
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    Our church doesn't do pledge cards for annual giving, but does for building fund drives. Since building fund drives cover multiple giving years, those who drop off without meeting the pledge tend to be offset by those who join after the cards are tallied but who give in the later years. In our case, giving tends to match the amount pledged, even if the individual giving doesn't exactly match up to the individual pledges. It can help with planning - if the congregation is honest.

    Quote Originally Posted by MississippiBaptist View Post
    Now, the particular building committee gets to determine how much of the pledged money will actually be realized ( It is somewhere between 50% and 75%)
    If only 50% of the amount pledged is expected to be given, that would indicate to me that there is something very wrong at that church. I would think that the number should be closer to 85% among the group pledging (and if there is no growth, total giving).
    Edward
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    Edward,

    This is for a building program. I do understand the pragmatic side of the process. If you are going to borrow a large sum of money then the leadership needs to know how to determine a 'reasonable' amount of debt. IMO the process is very secular. Hard for me to label something as a 'God work' when the local bank sees it as a safe risk. Just saying.
    Darryl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill The Baptist View Post
    No, I am very familiar. A church makes a decision to go into debt to build a buiding, and then asks its members to pledge to give extra above and beyond their tithe to help pay it off.
    Not necessarily. Say the drive covers 52 months - just over 4 years, but running over 5 tax years. Stage your construction over about 30 months. And buy the furniture and fixtures out of the last of the money to come in. The building will be paid for when you move in.

    ---------- Post added at 07:33 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:31 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by MississippiBaptist View Post
    If you are going to borrow a large sum of money
    If you are a good steward, you don't have to borrow at all. I don't see paying interest as good stewardship. Better to delay gratification for a few more months.
    Edward
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    When a church approves a budget for the coming year, it is "pledging" to give monetarily to cover the pastor's salary, housing, insurance, utilities, etc.. The same principle applies to a building project. Members give consideration of the blessings God has bestowed on them and pledge by God's continued provision they will cheerfully give stated sums for the particular need set before them by the council.

    Wise planning/pledging does not equate with being "secular".
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    Thanks Steve!
    Darryl
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    Many of your observations about how these campaigns are typically run bring up valid concerns. Very often, the effect is one that suggests manipulating God: "Pledge to give such-and-such an amount and have faith that God will respond by blessing you with the money." Malachi 3 notwithstanding, that way of thinking is contrary to the most prevalent drumbeat of the Scriptures. We should give in response to God's blessings, not as a ploy to finagle God's blessings.

    So the campaign at your church is probably less biblical than we'd like it to be. Okay. Then you must ask yourself what this means for your participation. I think there's still much value in participating eagerly with a whole-church project such as this, even if you'd do it differently were you in change. And you can still make your own pledge one that's a personal response to God's goodness, planning to give over the next three years not because you hope to get something back but because you're grateful for what you already have. I think that even when we rightly ignore much of the bad stewardship rhetoric churches fall into, most of us still have good reasons to give sacrificially to God's church.
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    Point taken Mark. A budget is a good comparison. I would agree that wise/planning does not equate to being secular.

    We have just moved to a new city so I am not in leadership at this church; however, I was in leadership at a church who engaged in a capital campaign, which included hiring an outside firm, and that was not a good experience for me. The marketing techniques, voting strategies, and target audiences all left me a little disappointed in the process. Perhaps I am casting suspicion where it is not warranted but I have seen some things, including how the vote was structured, that have caused me some concern. I really wanted some insight from others and it has been beneficial. I might just be a pay-as-you-go kind of guy. That I'm certain is biblical.

    ---------- Post added at 09:30 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:27 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack K View Post
    Many of your observations about how these campaigns are typically run bring up valid concerns. Very often, the effect is one that suggests manipulating God: "Pledge to give such-and-such an amount and have faith that God will respond by blessing you with the money." Malachi 3 notwithstanding, that way of thinking is contrary to the most prevalent drumbeat of the Scriptures. We should give in response to God's blessings, not as a ploy to finagle God's blessings.

    So the campaign at your church is probably less biblical than we'd like it to be. Okay. Then you must ask yourself what this means for your participation. I think there's still much value in participating eagerly with a whole-church project such as this, even if you'd do it differently were you in change. And you can still make your own pledge one that's a personal response to God's goodness, planning to give over the next three years not because you hope to get something back but because you're grateful for what you already have. I think that even when we rightly ignore much of the bad stewardship rhetoric churches fall into, most of us still have good reasons to give sacrificially to God's church.
    Well stated, Jack. Good stuff!
    Darryl
    Madison, MS
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    While I also think that pledge cards are cheesy, missionaries base their future activities on the reliability of a pledged committment from donors. Should I plan this preaching circuit, should I buy these extra teaching materials, or should I help so-and-so with this operation? It depends on both how much committed support I can count on, plus the occasional "special project" (which should be kept occasional so as not to cause donor fatigue).

    Some sort of estimate of future giving trends is useful in planning.

    But how do you gain this without looking cheesy, or succumbing to high-pressure tactics where some poor folks pledge more than what is reasonable and feel guilt for falling short due to entering into an unwise oath?

    This is a huge issue for misssions since we depend on monthly pledges/giving.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    While I also think that pledge cards are cheesy, missionaries base their future activities on the reliability of a pledged committment from donors. Should I plan this preaching circuit, should I buy these extra teaching materials, or should I help so-and-so with this operation? It depends on both how much committed support I can count on, plus the occasional "special project" (which should be kept occasional so as not to cause donor fatigue).

    Some sort of estimate of future giving trends is useful in planning.

    But how do you gain this without looking cheesy, or succumbing to high-pressure tactics where some poor folks pledge more than what is reasonable and feel guilt for falling short due to entering into an unwise oath?

    This is a huge issue for misssions since we depend on monthly pledges/giving.
    This actually came up when my wife and I were discussing the issue. We support several of our friends who are on the mission field and I believe God has blessed that commitment over and over. As this discussion is progressing I really feel that my objections are centered on the 'signing' of the pledge card. That aspect is what has a secular ring to it (i.e. signing your name on a mortgage). The undertone is that one's word and commitment to God and His work is not sufficient. Again, we are uncomfortable with the process but wanted to know if there was a biblical foundation for/against the process.
    Darryl
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    Darryl:

    I know some missionaries that have had dinners or church presentations telling about their work and who then presented pledge cards after the missionary presentation. Sometimes this all is done tastefully and sometimes not so tastefully. Sometimes, this seems manipulative.

    I remember one missionary dinner in particular of a pilot acquaintance of mine which made me cringe, he even played syrupy music right before he asked people to consider in their heart how much they wanted to pledge monthly. I wanted to puke and it hardened my heart against this acquaintance and I always pre-judged his actions as manipulative after that, and was not disapointed in my negative assessment afterward as he bounced from one missionary org to another due to his manipulative social skills yet superior piloting skills which kept him on the misssion field but closed some relational doors to him when people tired of his ways. I always felt dirty or used after I talked to him, and it was because he was treating me, not as a friend, but as an object. And I have known a few other missionaries and preachers that also seemed to treat their supporting churches in like manner, as objects, cash cows to be milked rather than fellow soldiers with merely differing tasks in the One Great Work.

    Many missionaries add giving cards or giving info to their prayer letters. This usually seems appropriate. I add news about special needs to my prayer letters and I strive to be very open about my finances. The relationship between a missionary and a supporting church, or a pastor and his church does contain a financial element, but this one element is only one element among many and should not become the dominant theme of the relationship.

    Many times, some sort of giving card or written note containing (a). the name of the donor and (b). the monthly amount that is pledged to be given, is the only way to get even a semi-accurate estimation of how much will come in per month. Missionaries plan their ministry and their yearly calendar based on these estimates, though we do have the nice option of raising extra funds for special projects sometimes.


    Sad as this might sound, a minority of the people that state that they will give do not, in fact, follow through and many missionaries are left in a lurch. If my own experience and the experience of others is representative, this might occur in 5-10% of cases regarding those who eagerly announce their intentions to give but then never follow through. This doesn't seem like a large percentage, but when it comes from church-people and occurs when one's support budgets are tight, this really leaves a lot of missionaries in a lurch, enough to make many missionaries doubt the resolve of many stateside supporters

    ("He dropped my 50 bucks a month, but he didn't sacrifice his monthly Tivo...I now understand his priorities" is one comment I overheard from a missionary last year. Another was, "They expect us to sacrifice all, but if the US economy gets a little tight, they drop us first before they sell their montrous SUV and buy something more affordable or limit the amount of travel they do for their kid's soccer team...").

    Sometimes well-intentioned people promise more than they can give, sometimes they promise more than they can give comfortably and so break their promise rather than tighten their belts, sometimes providential hindrances occur, sometimes job losses occur, sometimes health problems intervene.

    Seeing this happen over and over again, I am sure that many missionaries and pastors needing funds have added these additional means of reminding or binding people to their good intentions. And so I guess pledge cards began to appear.

    I know of at least two misssionaries whose home church made promises of supporting the missionary and even dissuaded them from searching for support outside their own local church and then, when the critical time came, they bailed on the poor misssionary due to "low giving" or demanded that the misssionary go on a severely redcued (and unrealistic) budget.........a signed pledge card might have been a means of defense, a written contract, so that one doesn't find themselves in Asia living on 300 bucks a month due to an unreliable church.
    Pergamum


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    Pergamum,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I think you may have hit on something. Without going into detail, my company unexpectedly shuttered its doors a couple of years ago. It was not good timing, at least in our view , but it did cause us to rely more on the Father. Support for our missionary friends did come up in family budget discussions but we strongly believed that our commitment was God honoring and that He was going to provide the financial means. And He did. That being said, you made me come to two realizations. First, we are not 'building' people. I have a very utilitarian view of our church buildings. If we need a new one, fine. Build it. I do not share the excitement that I have seen from my fellow members. Second, I believe that a great deal of energy is spent in most capital campaigns to motivate the 10%-15% that you mentioned above. People who are not currently giving to ministry. I like Jack's approach above. Just saying, "OK, this is probably not the best way to do things but it does not violate Scripture. We'll give as God leads but I don't think I can personally participate in the capital campaign." We are trying to support our leadership, hold fast to our convictions, and not be divisive all at the same time. Thanks for the insight.
    Darryl
    Madison, MS
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    I am glad that this topic has come up for discussion. I watched a church go down hill after a badly handled pledge card campaign. In this case, the elders hired an outside individual (taking thousands from the building fund account) to raise money.

    The fundraiser threw a small party at the home of a prominent church member. My husband and I were invited. As I looked around the room, I realized that everyone in the room (with the exception of me and my husband -- I was on church staff) had money and lots of it. The group consisted of doctors, lawyers, and businessmen. After the dinner, we were given a pitch for the building program and pledge cards to sign. After they had collected the pledge cards and totalled the amounts, the fundraiser approached the congregation as a whole and used the pledged donations as proof that God was blessing the project.

    The congregation didn't take the bait, but the elders, now with egg on their faces, proceeded with the project. In short, few gave what they pledged, church members left, and the elders dipped into the missionary funds which represented 30-40% of the church's budget to cover the debt.

    I won't go into the rest of it, but needless to say it was a mess.

    While I am not against someone privately pledging to God they will give a certain amount, I really have a problem with people feeling pressured to give, and this is what this type of campaign often generates.
    J Baldwin
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    J,

    I have a somewhat similar story at my previous church. "Target the wealthy members, let them meet the architect, special meetings, etc" Not saying our current church will do the same but it is an often used MO.
    Darryl
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    Yes, I'm afraid you are correct. It is very sad.
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    As someone who went through the pledge drive and was the person responsible for tracking, I can offer good and bad memories of the process.

    On the good side: The pledge was explained as not legally binding and we just wanted to get an estimate of what we could afford to build. It allowed leadership to estimate the cash flow and make decisions accordingly.

    On the bad side: We took on an outside consultant that offered a lot of cheesy gimmicks to cajole people into keeping up with the pledged amount. They were not worth the commission they extracted from us. I refused to use some of the ideas they offered.

    They also suggested having the private meeting for what they considered potential large contributors. I thought that this was showing favoritism towards the affluent (in violation of James 2). However, I was in the minority opinion and the meeting went off as suggested. It didn't cause any known division.
    Last edited by Rich Koster; 06-06-2011 at 10:15 AM.
    Rich Koster
    Browns Mills NJ USA
    Member of Covenant Baptist, Lumberton NJ (1689ers)
    http://cbclumberton.wordpress.com/

    Thankful that I'm not saved by merit badges
    Romans 7:14-25

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