The Rev. John Edwards has kindly provided a Biblical framework for “Giving” under 4 headings.
Prayerful: An act of worship and thanksgiving
1 Chronicles Chapter 29 verses 10-13.
Then David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly; David said: ‘Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, for ever and ever. Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Riches and honour come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might; and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name.
This famous and majestic prayer was proclaimed by an ageing King David to the whole assembly of Israel as they were about to adorn the newly finished temple. David follows the prayer with the following statement “everything comes from you and we have given you only what comes from your hand” So Therefore our gifts to God are a thanksgiving for all the blessings we receive. Thanksgiving in the form of money, our time and our talents is an important part of our Christian discipleship.
- As well as continuing to fund the efficient functioning of the Church at St John’s together with our commitments to Mission and paying our Parish Share, a key part of the Vision of St John’s is the growth of the church here in Crowthorne. To provide more outreach to and support of young people and to provide spiritual and other support to the rapidly growing population in the area as new house building continues.
- For the first time for many years, we do not have any capital projects to finance in the short term – thank you again for the great support for the organ refurbishment, the new audio-visual systems and, further back, the heating and the main roof replacement. We are very mindful that the Church has been asking for contributions to improvement projects as well as to cover its running costs.
- This gives us an opportunity to focus any increased giving we can afford on covering the costs of delivering that growth as well as steering away from any deficits towards a point where we are able perhaps to add to our modest reserves.
- I will take you through the numbers in a bit of detail later but, the punchline is that we are asking for you to contribute, to the extent you can, to a 10% increase in planned giving – which is around £7,500 per year.
Prioritised: Our “Giving “should not be the “small change” after all other needs have been satisfied.
2 Corinthians chapter 8 verses 8-14.
I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.
Here Paul is saying that one should “Give” according what one has and not what one has not and that it should be freely given.
Proportionate: assessed in relation to all we have
Deuteronomy Chapter 26 verses 2-3
You shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name.
Here Moses lays down the law and states that only the best is good enough for God. Are we prepared to strive to give only our best?
1 Corinthians Chapter 16 verse 2
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come.
Here the emphasis is to be prepared and to give regularly.
2 Corinthians Chapter 8 verse 5.
..and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us,
Here Paul encourages us to put God before all our dealings
The generosity of this congregation indicates that we do strive to put God first.
- St John’s continues to be run frugally, costs are managed closely and the wonderful contribution of time and talents by so many people allows us to minimise our costs – many of the services which would cost money are provided by you, the Congregation.
- We pay approximately £80k a year in Parish Share to support the work of the Church throughout the Parish and beyond.
- We continue to give around £13k a year in Mission Giving – a tradition of which the Church is rightfully proud and protective.
- The core running costs of the Church have been extremely well managed and increased by less than 1% - better discipline than many businesses
- Last year we had an unusually low level of cost for music due to the Organ being out of commission and the partial lack of a choir director. In 2017 this cost will revert to a more normal level. Overall we are expecting an 8% increase in our total running costs
- The main sources of income for the Church are planned and plate giving, special collections, the various fund raising events (such as the May Fair, Social Committee, Fair Trade etc) and Hall Lettings and fees. With regular givers passing away and moving out of the area, there needs to be a continued push for new regular givers and for existing givers to increase their contribution if they are able
- This year we are asking those who can to contribute to a 10% increase in planned giving- this represents about £7500 a year.
- We are very mindful that many people are not able to contribute further and we respect that. But if you are able to consider becoming a planned giver for the first time or you are an existing planned giver who is able to increase that giving – do please act on this and make a difference towards our target of £7500.
- And, as ever, if you are a tax payer, please use Gift Aid to allow the Church to reclaim tax.
Planned: not left to chance and leaving scope for spontaneity.
2 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 7.
Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
What we have to decide is what we are going to give not because we have to, not because we have been told to, not because the scriptures say we must. No, we must give, as we have always done in this congregation; Give because we want to, for God loves a cheerful Giver.
Steve Pope and Ian Lobley, on behalf of the Stewardship Committee.