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There are any number of reasons to give to the church. No one can tell you what is the correct reason to give. It’s really something for you and your family to discern. There are different rationales, however.

I most commonly hear about pledging as a way of paying for services rendered. To say that another way, I hear people decide their pledge based on what they received from the church. A formula might look like: 35 services attended + 7 instances of pastoral care + 14 religious education classes  + 63 cups of coffee = annual pledge.

Certainly this is a good starting point, but it doesn’t take into account the full scope of the church. These services rendered are not just here for you or for me. They are here for everyone. They are here for the people we have yet to meet. They are here for generations who haven’t been born yet.

It also doesn’t take into account the abstract and vital functions of the church. It doesn’t seem possible to measure the cultural and societal impact our church has had. I wish I could quantify how many people were given hope, how many people were told that they are worthy, how many people found sanctuary, or found their true selves because our congregation is in Baton Rouge.

Measuring your pledge against how important the church has been in your life and the transformation of the city is a way to think of giving. Viewing pledging that way helped me give for a few years, but it didn’t sustain me spiritually for very long. Now I prefer to think of giving as a spiritual practice.

When I give I feel more connected to the world, to other people. I feel more connected to my church, and I feel more invested in the world. I feel a sense of pride and joy. More importantly (because I shouldn’t just give so that I will feel better), giving away a percentage of my income reminds me that I didn’t earn it all alone. It reminds me that I owe something to a world that gives me so much.

When you give to the church, I hope you will do it generously and with an open heart. You can bring in your pledge cards by November 1st or pledge online. Remember, the more you give, the more Louisianans will hear that they are worthy of love and justice.