As stewardship season rolls around in churches throughout the country, I thought I'd update last year's tips on how to avoid pledging. With a little creativity, you too can do your part to avoid furthering the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.
Here we go. A dozen ways to avoid stewardship:
1. Tell the rector that you are “morally opposed” to pledging. After all, shouldn’t the church live up to its name as a community of “faith” and take it on faith that there will be enough money to pay for the rector’s health benefits?
2. Don’t show up to church in October. In fact, just to be safe avoid church in September and November as well just in case the ubiquitous Stewardship Sermon is preached early or late this year.
3. Tell the rector that you'd like a podcast of his/her stewardship sermon and then turn it into a drinking game -- take a swig every time you hear the words "abundance" and "scarcity." By the end, you won't even feel a whit of guilt about not pledging.
4. Tell the poor sap who calls you to follow-up on the stewardship campaign that your time and (especially your) talent more than make up for your lack of willingness to part with your treasure. Who cares if your real "talent" is avoiding contributing to the life of the community?
5. Move, but neglect to give your forwarding address to the church office. “Stewardship packet? No, I never received one.” Then tell them to resend it to your old address.
6. Assure people that, while you don’t pledge, you give generously to the plate. Especially on the one Sunday a month you find yourself in church.
7. After using the advice from #6, practice folding a one dollar bill to make it look like a thick wad of cash. It may end up looking like an $11 bill but whatever.
8. If you do pledge, make sure that you never give more than the five dollars a week you gave in the mid-1970s.
9. Switch to a new church every Advent and you’ll be sure to “just miss” the stewardship campaign. Of course you’ll need to avoid going to church in the fall but that’s just the price you’ll have to pay. So to speak.
10. Tell the treasurer you've decided to donate online this year. Then explain that there was a mix-up and the automatic deduction went to your health club rather than the church.
11. Don’t pledge but still ask for envelopes — you can usually finagle them out of the church office — so that people think you do.
12. Use the money you don’t pledge to donate a memorial gift of velvet liners for the collection plates. That way the change you toss in won’t reverberate and cause you undue embarrassment.
I hope these dozen tips have been helpful as you prayerfully discern your pledge amount this year. Until churches start publishing the names and amounts of givers (like every other charitable organization) you should be safe.