Good gifts all around us

30 09 2013

It’s Harvest time again and it’s good to pause and reflect on the way in which the natural world teems with life.  Even in London’s urban sprawl we can see birds and animals and insects everywhere if we just stop to look.  On top of that, even in times of economic recession we are all of us among the richest people on the planet.  We have fresh water literally on tap, so much food that we throw it away, roofs over our heads, and access to free medical facilities whenever we need them.  No matter how pressured we may sometimes feel, we have every reason to thank God for the privilege of living where we are.

But with privilege also comes responsibility.  An important part of being a Christian is recognising that everything we have is a gift from God and it is to be shared when necessary with those who do not have enough, and offered in support of the mission and ministry of God’s church.

This is something which not enough of us grasp fully.  There is great generosity when there is a specific need or appeal, and the fact that we have been able to reopen St Mary’s and improve the Ascension speaks volumes for our ability to dig deep.

The problem lies in supporting the week by week activities of the church – which I’m delighted to say are expanding.  This year we have seen growth in numbers at both churches and expansion in the types of activities we can offer.  All of this costs money.  Last year our churches, staff and activities cost just short of £110,000 to support.

£63,000 of that came from the giving of church members.  The rest came from letting out our buildings, and other smaller sources of income.  None of our regular income is from grants or subsidies of any kind. £63,000 a year given by church members sounds like a lot of money until you break it down.  It means on average that each member gives only £50 a month or £11 a week.  Break down the average further and it turns out that a third of our members give less than £25 a month (or £6 a week), and another third give no more than £50 a month.  That means half of our total income from giving comes from only a third of our members.

We can do so much better.   The Bible suggests that we should aim to give away around 10% of our income and it doesn’t need a mathematical genius to work out that our income as churches is nowhere close to that when compared to the amount of money most of us have each month.  It’s time to learn that how we use our money is as much a measure of our spirituality as the amount of time we spend in prayer.  Everyone enjoys it when we welcome new people into the church, when we’re able to put on good activities for children and retired people, when we’re able to do things well, rather than in the most bargain basement way.  There’s a huge joy and satisfaction in investing in something worthwhile and seeing it realise its potential.  Many of you speak of how much you value the life of our churches.  It’s time for us to show how much we care by the way we give.  Good gifts are all around us.

It’s time to give something back.

Best wishes

Simon


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