Giving of ourselves and from our resources.
God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. You will be enriched in every way for your generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us.
2 Corinthians 9.8,11
Recently I wrote to church members who give regularly by Standing Order or the envelope scheme to thank them for their continued prayerful and financial support for the work and mission of our parish. Being generous toward God with our time, talents, spiritual gifts and finances is of course both a biblical and a spiritual imperative. It is part of what it means to be a
disciple of Christ! Giving of ourselves and from our resources marks us as co-workers with Christ in the mission of his Church.
The PCC and I want to acknowledge everyone who contributes. It may be that you have given financially in a different way, with cash or cheque, by debit card, on line or anonymously. So we want to thank you as well. (Please note I do not know who gives what or how). Your contributions are so important in the life of the church.
We are getting used to seeing businesses, shops, clubs, charities and families struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. It doesn’t look like things will get any better just yet either. We are also finding times are hard with a significant deficit in our general income, (around £1000 a month). Thankfully, we have been able to sustain a reasonable level of income that has enabled us to fulfil our obligations so far. So my sincere thanks to everyone who has supported the parish financially.
Obviously the PCC has been mindful to be good stewards of the resources that come in and how much we can sensibly draw on reserves. Building works aside (this is funded from existing fabric funds and grants), we have to consider what we need in order to go on meeting our regular commitments – the bills we need to pay as well as the goals we want to achieve. There is still a future!
We had many activities planned and exciting possibilities to look forward to and while we may have been stopped in our tracks with no known date of getting back to normal, we still have a vision and we still have a purpose to live Christ’s story.
Yet even before the pandemic struck, only 28% of our parish income was being generated by those who give on a regular basis. The rest comes from investments, occasional services (Weddings and Funerals), rents, donations, cash on the plate and Gift Aid. Let me be honest with you; the bottom line is that our finances have been static for some years now and this equation is unsustainable. We need to transform our finances if we are to build on our vision and meet the challenge of church growth. Realistically that 28% should be at least double if not 75% plus. Just think what missionary work could be achieved if that were happening!
VISION & VALUES
As people of faith, our purpose is to worship and serve God both in the life of His Church and the wider community. We believe in a loving God revealed to us through the Bible and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are flawed people, but … God’s grace reaches out to everyone. Therefore, our ‘Mission’ is to be the ‘Body of Christ’ in this place. To ‘reach-out’ rather than ‘grab-in’. So as people who love and serve God, filled by the Holy Spirit, we are the people who are commissioned by God to share God’s love in word and action. We are endeavouring to do this in three distinct ways:
Deepening our faith. By developing a richness of
commitment, becoming more Christ-like in our nature and
being generous toward God.
Growing the Church. By living Christ’s story, reaching out to others with the love we have experienced from God. Building fellowship and adding to our numbers those who believe and not to shrink away or leave it to someone else.
Serving the community. By having concern for the needs of others and responding in the way of Christ with justice, compassion, kindness, humility and patience. It includes having vision for the use of our buildings and to contribute to this missionary work with the use of our time, talents and money.
This may seem a huge undertaking, but in reality it is all normal discipleship. As Paul put it – to become people who have moved on from spiritual milk onto spiritual solids.
We continue to be prayerful and confident that when we are able to fully re-open, we will be ready and in good shape to serve our Lord – perhaps in new and exciting ways, especially perhaps with the developments with St John’s Centre. Change is a certainty and I hope it will also see us all grow in our generosity toward God with the first fruits of our labours!
So to start us off, during Lent, (Ash Wednesday is 17th February) we are going to be offering various weekly Bible Studies, Zoom gatherings and opportunities to reinvigorate prayer. Let me be clear, I’m not asking for a one off few more quid on the plate, but to start a process of transforming our vision to serve Christ which will include a review of our own giving of time, talents, spiritual gifts and regular financial provision.
I hope it will help us rediscover a passion for the Gospel. To ready ourselves and rise to the challenge to deepen in our relationship with Jesus as well as to respond with whole life generosity.
With Every Blessing