Our giving ensures church survives and thrives
The church is the bearer of good news and as long as we remain faithful in bringing it to the world we will survive and thrive says Revd Philip Young.
If we are faithful to the calling to be witnesses of good news then the promised Holy Spirit will be poured out upon us, and all the powers of darkness will not be able to overcome the church.
With God on our side we cannot fail. We are believers in and witnesses of the resurrection of Christ and the church is the first fruits of all that is to come. The kingdom of God is an ever–expanding kingdom and all creation will be transformed into the glorious liberty of the sons and daughters of God.
To translate that eternal truth about the church into the here and now of our present churches means that we have to take a particular attitude and approach.
The first priority is to concentrate on being the missionary church that we are called to be, but all too often we are sidetracked by concentrating on maintaining the church in its present state. We are overburdened by maintaining buildings and by paying ministers so that nearly all our energy goes into maintenance while we ignore mission. We need to pray that God will, by his Spirit, move our hearts to concentrate on mission and not on maintenance.
If we concentrate on maintenance we become fearful that we will not be able to maintain things as they are and all we can see is an ever decreasing and failing church. This can demoralise us and may end up as a self-fulfilling prophecy, but only if we allow ourselves to be overcome by that pessimistic outlook.
The alternative is to step out in faith trusting that God is at work and that he wants his church to succeed, expand and grow. This may mean devoting ourselves to prayer and a waiting upon the Holy Spirit to direct us and not to rely on our own efforts. We may have to admit that we don’t know how, but that we are willing to be directed by the Spirit. In this way we align ourselves with God’s work and we become co-workers and co-creators with God.
It is in this Spirit that we need to move forward and we need to make ourselves available to God so that he can use us. And this is the work that the people of God need to generously fund by their giving. How much more exciting to be asked to support the church in its mission than its maintenance.
Will you give generously to God’s church so that it can fulfil its mission to bring good news to the poor and release to the captives?
How much do we need to give?
The church needs money to survive and to thrive as it necessary to maintain the buildings and pay the ministers, as well as funding the mission. So we need maintenance costs to be covered, and additional amounts to fund the mission.
All of us need to look to our own giving, as we don’t want the church to just survive as it is, we want the church to grow and expand, and it can only do this if maintenance costs are met, so that additional giving can support mission.
I suggest that the practice of tithing 10% of income is a good guidance for Christians seeking to lay their giving before God. You could follow the advice to give 5% of your after tax income to the church and 5% to other charities. What I would ask is that all of us pray to God that we would take seriously the support of his church and make sure that we give enough so that the church can fulfil its mission to bring good news to those who are longing to be set free.
God loves the church and it will grow in those places where people are faithful to his calling to bring the good news of his love, made plain in the life and death of Jesus, to all mankind.
Come Holy Spirit and stir up your church. May we be faithful witnesses to the power of your resurrection.
Philip Young is vicar of St Thomas' Church, Heigham, Norwich