Your Church needs your financial support!
CURRENT ISSUE: We’re spending more than we have coming in – about £100 a day. That needs to change!
CHALLENGE: Respond in our giving to God’s generosity to us.
This Sunday, we’re taking some time to talk about our church’s money, and how our giving to God fits into our lives as Christians. Some of us – maybe many of us – are a bit mystified about how the church’s finances work, so I’m going to spend a bit of time explaining these, before moving on to what this means for us.
We look around at our buildings and all the activities that the church does, and it it costs a lot of money – to be precise, about £12,000 every week – that’s £600,000 every year. So where does that come from? You might think that the Church of England pays for it all, or maybe even the Government – but actually the vast majority of the church’s income comes from the gifts that literally hundreds of church members make to the church. So we’re self-sufficient – like a family – and we pay our own bills.
Another question that people ask is whether the money that they give to the church just goes into a “big pot” in the Church of England and doesn’t necessarily benefit the work here in Knowle, so I’d just like to reassure you that the majority of our giving does in fact stay here in Knowle. It’s true that we do give away about 15% of our income – some goes to help other parishes in the Diocese, some goes to charities like Tear Fund that are meeting needs in other countries. But most of it is used here.
And then you might ask: “We’re quite a big church, surely we’ve got plenty of money?” Unfortunately, not enough – we’re spending more than we have coming in, about £30,000 per year – which is about £100 a day. Every day. We do have reserves to tide us over when things are tight – but we’ve used about a third of those over the past year, so if things don’t change then they’ll only last till about the end of next year.
So pretty soon, we’ll be facing some hard choices. We don’t yet know what that might mean. Hopefully, we have a new vicar arriving soon – we really wouldn’t want them to have to deal with that when they arrive. But wouldn’t it be great if the money was there to serve our community and carry on doing what we do today? Or maybe even more?
So you might remember that I spoke about this back in November and we’ve made some progress – some people changed their giving to the church pretty well straight away, so I’d like to say a big thank you for that. But we have a lot further to go yet, and obviously not everyone can, but it would be great if we could spread the load.
But before we go any further, let’s pause a minute and remember that everything we have is a gift from God … so an attitude of thankfulness is the start point for all our thoughts on how we use God’s gifts.
So you’ll have seen this word “Stewardship” lurking at the bottom of the page. What’s that about? Really, it’s about how we live the whole of our lives for Jesus. In his letter to the Romans, Paul said “Therefore, I urge you … in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice”. … that includes placing everything that God has given us at his disposal.
That includes our time, the abilities that we have, the experiences that we can draw upon, and our resources.
So when we give, it’s just part of our life in Jesus – who gave his life for, us sent his Holy Spirit to help us. So we give to God out of gratitude for his generosity.
But there’s more to it. When we give ourselves to Jesus, we start following him bit by bit, becoming more like him. And he’s generous! He. shares his riches with us. So when we’re prompted to give by the Holy Spirit – and we respond – we become more like Jesus.
And even more! God is transforming us. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12). As we live our lives as Christians, we start to stand out as being different, because Jesus calls us to be rebels. Lots of what we do is the opposite to what we hear on the media, or even our friends talking. So when Jesus says things like “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” and “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” and “Love one another” … He’s turning things upside down.
When we make a conscious decision to give to God, we’re deliberately swimming against the tide. Because the overwhelming bias of almost everything we see in the media and around us, is that getting more money is what life’s all about, and you keep what you’ve got. So when we give, we’re saying: “No … there’s a different way … God’s way”
3 things – First, pray.
Second, work out what you’re going to do.
Third, it would be great if you could let us know, so that we can plan. It’s easy to do – if we have your email address you’ll have had an email on Friday 15th March – it has a link to a response form that you can do online. If we don’t have your email, then you’ll probably find a leaflet addressed specially for you in the box at the back of church.