I may get in trouble with the vestry for saying this, but I don't think that stewardship has anything to do with church budgets. I believe that stewardship is the way we respond to God's love for us-- using our gifts. All of our gifts. The gifts that Jesus most often spoke about to His followers were financial gifts. Giving back financially to the temple, to widows, and to other people in need. One of Christ's phrases was "God loves a cheerful giver." If church members give because they've been brow beaten to give more for the budget, they're probably not cheerful. Christ also talked a lot about tithing, by which he meant giving 10% of your income.
That is a scary thought. If your budget looks like mine did when I began to increase my giving, suddenly jumping up 10% just won't work. However, every one can give a little more than they're giving now. Even if it's just two dollars a month. The point is that God will take care of you, if you trust him. As someone who sits in the same pews you do, I can tell you I have never had to do without anything I needed, because I increased my giving. (I didn't get some "wants", but I lacked for nothing I needed) This type of giving--slowly increasing the amount-- helps you to increase your trust in God.
God has never let my husband nor me down. It takes trust in God, to tithe. I suspect that's why Jesus was so adamant--He just wants us to trust His Father. Each time you increase your giving and discover you don't fall flat on your face; you learn that you can trust Him a little more. The more you trust Him, the more He sheds his bountifulness on you.
I have a memory of a gentlemen named Buzz in one of churches we went to many years ago. Buzz always got nervous as we approached the Sunday of the parable of rich young man. Folks who know me know that I can be rather outspoken. This trait has been described in other words, but "outspoken" is perhaps the most polite. Anyway, in an adult forum Buzz, never a happy person, asked "Was this 10% before or after taxes?" I responded "Buzz, It doesn't matter because you don't pay 10% after taxes so why worry about before taxes."
Why on earth would I include this snarky story? Mostly because I want to tell you that of the many people I know who tithe "after taxes", most of them eventually change to "before taxes" because they are giving joyfully. Isn't that the goal of the Christian life. Joyfulness through trust/faith.
How can it hurt to include our Church budget in some of the money you give joyfully--it doesn't have to be all of your donations. Our beloved Canterbury deserves our best. But I don't think stewardship has anything directly to do with church budget. Increasing the budge is merely a byproduct. I believe in a stewardship where we happily, weekly respond to God's love for us.
-Candy Porter, Canterbury Member (10AM)