Counting The Cost
Read the following passages and reflect on them. What do they say to you about your own discipleship? What do you find challenging about them? What do they tell you about us as a church? Perhaps make some notes to help you delve into the passage and what they are teaching you.
Romans 8. 5-8 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 12. 1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Luke 14. 28-33 Counting the Cost 28 ‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, “This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.”31 ‘Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
Jesus illustrates his basic point that discipleship requires a conscious commitment, made with a realistic estimate of the ultimate personal cost. The practical nature of counting the cost vividly underlines the fact that Christian discipleship is not some theoretical abstract ideal but hard reality.
Q?. What has being a disciple of Christ cost you?
It is going to cost us dearly. True and mature disciples do not sit on the fence! All that we are and have is to be invested in our relationship with God through Jesus.
Q? What does it mean for you to be a ‘living sacrifice’?
Discipleship is demanding. Paul reminds us that living in worldly terms leads ultimately to death. So how do you think being a follower of Christ has made a difference in your life? Where or how are you a ‘living sacrifice’?
Q? What does it mean to have our mind governed by God?
Do you think of God as a kind of personal thought police? When and how are you instinctively generous toward God? Do you think you withhold anything from God? (time, talent, gifts, money)
The cost of our commitment in Filey
Transferring these thoughts to our finances, ask yourself:
Q? How do I allow God to govern my giving? How, when and what do I give to His church?
Unfortunately as you will see, we cannot continue as we are. The truth is that we need to transform our church finances and change old habits, old commitments, past investments and erratic giving. So here are a few questions– have a guess at the answers!
How much do you think it costs….
To run our church?
To develop its ministry and mission?
To reach people we don’t currently reach?
To maintain and pay the costs associated with our buildings?
To have a vicar and contribute to the wider church?
How much should we distribute to the relief of those in need?
How much should we give to Missionary work in this country and abroad?
To help us explore these and other questions we need to know some of the numbers so that we can ‘estimate the cost’ (OK slightly out of context but still relevant) and make our contribution based on facts.
COVID has impacted on our income, but even before that, we were running a substantial deficit Less than a third of our church income comes from regular giving. The rest comes from investments, gift aid recovered, donations, fees, cash on the plate and Parish Centre rents.
What do we expect to spend in 2021?
£60,000 to the Diocese of York as our contribution to ministry costs. [c£80,000 to supply and support a full-time minister, plus a contribution to other diocesan ministry costs according to CoE,]
£10,000 (or 10% of unrestricted income) is given to a number of charitable organisations e.g. Christian Aid, Church Army and others;
£22,000 on keeping our buildings warm and safe, regularly cleaned and maintained, including required safety checks, insurance etc.
£17,500 running the Parish office including all the costs of communicating: digital and print, and statutory costs
£5,000 to run church services (including licences) clergy office expenses, organists etc.
£2,500 supporting our ‘Multiply’ worker and other outreach events
Total expenditure = £117,000. (£2250 a week)! This figure will increase in 2022 as we contribute more to ‘Multiply’, costs of services in church and outreach work. There will be additional costs having a curate, rising costs of insurance, fuel and water charges etc.
Total income = £98,000 (£1885 a week) which has actually been stuck around this figure for some time.
The anticipated income for 2021 is made up of…
£30,000 from regular giving either direct to the bank or weekly envelopes
£4,000 from ‘regular’ givers who do not currently use either of the above methods
£8,000 from loose collections received at in-person service
£10,000 from gift aid on eligible collections and donations
£4,000 from ad-hoc donations
£30,000 from investment income (mainly Dobson Trust – this is supposed to be for work of “Christian Education” - not paying the gas bill)
£4,000 from Parish fees from Weddings and Funerals
£8,000 from Parish Centre lettings
So that means a £19,000 deficit! So where do we make cuts or…. where can we grow? If we shared that cost equally just among our ‘regular givers’ they would need to increase their giving by 56% each. Of course it’s more complicated than that because we really need to be thinking more in terms of giving proportionally “each according to their means, giving as much as they are able” 1 Corinthians 8.
So how shall we pay?
Consider this: If the average household income is £15,000pa and half the 120 members on our church electoral roll tithed (10% of income) to the church, our membership income alone would be £90,000. Now there's a thought! Just think what ministry we could afford, what generosity there would be to the growth of the Kingdom. Of course people give in many different ways, but our basic income comes directly from the membership and our situation needs to change!
Next week we start to think about our own personal responses to these Bible Studies. It may mean a small adjustment for some and for others a complete change in the way we approach giving. I have learnt so much by sharing in these studies and I trust that with me, you will be open to the Holy Spirit guiding or even challenging you in what you give in time, talents, gifts of the Spirit and from your income.
If you would like to download the Bible Study there is a link below.
Here is the Parish Link for the week.