Preachers sometimes claim that Jesus spoke more on money and giving than anything else apart from the Kingdom of God. I have never checked it, but there is no doubt he talked about money a great deal. I sometimes wonder what would happen if we preached as much about money as Jesus did! Why did he speak about it so much? The fundamental answer is that our attitude to money, and what we do with it is a discipleship issue.
As a vicar, people told me that money follows vision, but it worried me that when we only followed that way of thinking, we were neglecting the deeper ‘why’. As followers of Jesus, we give to God as an act of worship, and in so doing, we topple the idol of mammon and replace it with God Almighty, the King of Kings. When we do this, we become more like the people God has designed us to be. We become freer! As we teach, encourage and invite people to give, we are leading them into greener pastures and being faithful pastors.
I am excited about Transforming Generosity (and always get excited about gift days) for the opportunity it gives us. It isn’t about raising money or plugging black holes. Primarily, it is about discipleship and worship. It is about being grateful for what God has given us, becoming like him in generosity and sacrifice, and trusting him for our welfare.
In my visits to African churches, I have always been humbled and amazed by the way they give. In every service, they dedicate ten or twenty minutes in the middle of the service for everyone to bring their gift forward with singing and dancing - no matter how poor they are, they find something to give, and they give it joyfully. It seems to me that they have discovered the joy of giving, and most of our church members and services are a fair way off from that.
As I approached Gift Days at Christ Church, I always had to resist the thought that in inviting people to give, I was placing a burden on them, but rather, I was offering them an opportunity to experience the joy of giving and to grow in faith and worship. As we approach October and Transforming Generosity, I will need to remind myself of that again - might you also?
Peter Harwood, Director of Mission