Rev’d Jonathan Gale
As indicated last week, we are spending the first two Sundays in May on the financial aspect of stewardship. Stewardship – how we honour God with our time, talents and resources – is critical to our role in being human. In the first chapter of Genesis God gave dominion (that is responsibility) for the whole of creation into the hands of humankind.
Today we are looking at that aspect of worship we call giving. Giving is one of the most natural signs of affection on earth. One of the first things we teach babies is to hand something to someone, often with an accompanying, ‘Ta!”
And God expects us to develop a generous and giving spirit because it is an imitation of him.
Some people are called to a ministry of giving.
I had just turned eighteen and I found myself in hospital facing an operation after a serious knee injury whilst playing hockey.
My mother decided I needed some books to read and she provided me with a book I can still remember. It was called Mover of Men and Mountains by RG Le Tourneau, the biggest name in earthmoving and someone, who, if I remember correctly, decided to give 80% of his earnings to God and yet became immensely wealthy. He found it difficult to out-give God.
There are many similar examples of great generosity by people of God.
I tithed (that is gave 10% of my income to the church) for most of my working life until we got into a financial jam and the only way out was to decrease that percentage. So, in spite of the exploits of men like Le Tourneau and the testimony of many Christians, you can’t (in my experience) use a simplistic formula like, “I’ll give to God and God will out-give me in return.” Try it. Unless you’ve been told by God to give vast amounts away, I doubt God will have his arm twisted and shower you with money.
However, if you want to measure the depth of your love for Christ, look at your calendar and your credit card statement. They don’t lie. How you spend your time and money are the two best barometers of your true priorities.
I found a cartoon that depicted a hen and a pig looking at a sign that advertised the need to donate food for the hungry. “We should contribute some eggs and ham,” said the hen. The pig replied, “For you that would be a contribution, for me it would be a sacrifice!” While amusing, they both have it wrong. Giving should be neither something we casually do in response to a cause, nor a major upheaval. It should be a considered lifestyle as it was for Jesus.
God promises to ensure that those who give faithfully are blessed. It’s a foundational tenet of the Jewish and Christian faiths.
Time to hand over to Fay, who as the People’s Warden, will lead the rest of this section.
Fay on Stewardship
It’s easy to understand why we tiptoe around the subject of stewardship.
When the question of Stewardship was raised in our wardens meeting with Jonathan and we were asked to address it with you it was also the last subject we felt we wanted to embrace but knew that giving was a normal aspect of Christian Worship.
Granted, the topic of giving, unlike other Christian disciplines, can be particularly divisive and as clergy and wardens talking to you about stewardship we don’t want to seem self-serving or give the impression that all we really care about is money, but we cannot let the pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction and shy away from ever approaching finances.
We may think that our financial resources are our own. But when we recall that behind those dollars; the time, the energy, the good health, and the opportunities for employment are all gifts from God; questions about what we earn, how we earn it, how we save, spend, and give it away, are all questions of Christian stewardship.
Last week Penny talked about our time, talents resources and the way our money is used………
Today I want to look at our total income, break that down and suggest a way forward
As you can see of our total income, 36% percent comes from the Church Congregation, regular families donating once a month, 3% from other sources and 61% from investment.
The largest amount of Investment Income breaks down to rental from Hall and Church hire and the largest portion, the kindergarten. If they should decide to move out we would be in trouble and to a lesser extent that applies to the hire of the hall and Church. There is a fine line when prospective hirers approach us between what they feel is reasonable and what we feel is fair. How lucky we are to have Holly fielding those enquiries for us.
Just as importantly it also includes interest on investments, which needs to be set aside for capital projects and major maintenance such as the leaking roof.
As you know we have several ways we are able to give, cash, envelopes and automatic payment.
Slide 4 & 5
From a membership of around 200 we have 85 regular givers and we want to take this opportunity to thank you for your generosity.
Belonging to our congregation is to be a steward; “stewardship” may be just a polite way of referring to financially giving to the church but it’s far more than that.
As Penny and I have tried to show we have three responsibilities as God’s stewards:
- Receiving: We receive with joyful thanksgiving the many gifts that God showers upon us — time, talent, treasure, our bodies, our friendships, natural resources, and the beauty around us.
- Managing: We take good care of what we have received. We manage these resources wisely — for our own good and the good of others.
- Giving: Out of our gratitude in receiving so abundantly, we want to share with others; giving to God the “first fruits,”
Click here to see the summary booklet with slides.