Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
As Jesus sent out the twelve apostles into the ministry field He said, “Freely you have received; freely give.” Jesus was challenging His disciples to give themselves to the kingdom ministry of proclaiming the gospel and healing the sick just as Jesus had done for them.
One of the things I love about All Saints’ Marple is that we too try to live this value out. As we have freely received so we freely give out. I am sure that many of you are aware that this, ‘giving out’ happens in all sorts of areas of our church ministry from things like the job club and pantry, to running Connect for our community. People give their time and energy to support ministries to children, youth and older people whether they are connected to the church or not. From website support, to serving tea and coffee, people freely give. Did you know that we have offered administrative support, prayer ministry training, preaching, teaching, worship and kids’ work to other churches? Isn’t it great that what we have received we try to freely give away to others outside Marple.
One thing that you might not be so aware of is that we as a church also freely give our money. Every year we give away approximately 10% of our annual income to support other mainly Christian ministries with whom we have partnered or with whom we share a common concern. That means this year we will give away over £25,000 to people and organisations who are working to further God’s kingdom both internationally, nationally and locally. What an amazing privilege to be able to give such a gift.
This might mislead you into thinking that our church is incredibly wealthy, to be able to afford to give away such an amount. Nothing could be further from the truth. This year we have run a budget deficit to fund the work of our church which means we have used all our income to fund God’s ministry as well as using some of our reserve funds.
‘So why give this money away?’ I hear you ask. Well, it is based on the biblical model of tithing 10%. The idea being that we would honour God by giving Him the first tenth of what we receive. It is a way of acknowledging the truth that all things come from God and belong to Him. It is a way that encourages us to depend on Him with our lives and our finances. In other words, the giving of a tenth of our income is part of our spiritual act of worship as a church and, as such, part of our budgeting process as a church is to work out first how much to freely give away to others.
All of our seven mission partners have benefitted from receiving these financial gifts which is great and recently we have decided to continue to support them for as long as they are doing their work.
Corporately deciding which mission agencies we support is both a challenge as well as a blessing, but one I think God smiles at. Last year we supported: The Message Trust, Fusion, ROC, Tearfund, N-GAGE, Scripture Union, The BOAZ Trust, CMJ, Open Doors and Potter’s Village. Some of these organisations you may or may not be aware of, in fact there may be some organisations that you know of who you might want to bring to our attention for consideration to financially support in the future. If so I would encourage you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
I am sure that all of the money we give away is used to glorify God and His mission purposes but I can’t help thinking that the real gift comes to us, by our being able to be generous as a church. The Bible says, ‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ I think we have felt this at All Saints’ as we have corporately and cheerfully given away a tenth of our income.
Just like we give corporately as the church, my hope is that we as individuals will personally know more the joy and love behind giving generously. I know many of us already give to the church by direct debit but if any would like to start giving in this way there is a simple form that can be found outside the church office.
Importantly, any gift, whether it be a tenth or more or less, is given not reluctantly or under compulsion but through what has been decided in the heart and that it be done so cheerfully. It is then that I believe the verse at the beginning of this letter really rings true.
Every blessing in Christ,
Daniel Currie (Vicar)