IMG_0052Commitment. It is a concept that I work with a lot as a pastor. It’s most evident when I am counseling couples who are planning on having a commitment ceremony or a wedding.  We spend a lot of time talking about the vows the couple will make to each other, and about what it means to make promises and stay faithful to them.  We pastors also talk a lot about church membership as commitment and the changing nature of membership in the 21st century.  Younger folks are definitely willing to commit to organizations – they just don’t come at it the same way their parents and grandparents did, or with the same assumptions as previous generations.

Commitment is also central to our recent stewardship emphasis, From Bread And Wine To Faith And Giving.  For four weeks we talked about what it is that makes this congregation “tick” and why on earth we would want to support it.  We had four wonderful testimonies from a variety of folks in our community: Kathy Moody-Arndt, David Muich, Larissa Stewart and her family, and Nim Bryant.  I also preached on the topic.  At the end of that time we asked you to consider committing yourself to support the mission and ministry of the church in the coming year. And then we partied at our Transformation Dinner!

This pledge, as I said in my November 16th sermon, is a promise between you (and your family if that is your situation) and God.  In the same way vows aren’t binding in a legal contractual way, your pledge isn’t a contract, but a commitment. Pledging involves the heart, soul, body, and mind… your all.

EstimateOfGivingCardLikewise, with other promises and vows we make, we sometimes have to renegotiate our pledges – especially when our circumstances change. In reality, you don’t need to tell anyone at all if your giving needs to decrease or increase.  Some folks drop a note to the Treasurer, because he’s the only person who sees your pledge.  But even that’s not needed.

What my sermon on the 16th really focused on was that commitment is about giving your all, your everything, to something larger than yourself that makes a real difference in this world.  I happen to be of the viewpoint that Franklin Circle Christian Church changes lives for the better every single day, and that it’s presence in our community makes the conversations we are having more honest, more relevant, and more inclusive.

I am passionate about this church, and I have been committed to it for over 13 years now!  I gladly give weekly to help support the amazing ministry FC3 is doing for those who come into our building, as well as those out in the community who are touched in some way by our presence here.  I have increased my pledge for the coming year, and I would like to invite you to make your pledge to support this dynamic and diverse urban community on Cleveland’s near west side in 2015.  A pledge card is included in this newsletter. And if you already pledge to our church, I invite you to consider increasing that commitment for the coming year, as I did.

If you want to read my stewardship sermons, copies are available at the church, or on my Pastor’s Blog online at:  If you would prefer to watch the video of me preaching it, you can go online here:  If you would like a copy of the Financial Report, which includes an up-to-date summary of the church’s finances as well as the 2015 operating budget passed on November 16 at the Congregational Meeting, please call the church office and it will be sent to you. (216.781.8232)

Thank you, as always, for your commitment to Jesus Christ, to Christ’s body on earth, the Church, and to this particular manifestation of God’s will and work in the world: Franklin Circle Christian Church.

AllenVHarrisGratefully Your Pastor,