The Generosity Muscle
You will be aware that the lead up to Sunday 31 October has been designated as a time of National Giving by the Church of Scotland, and that all one-off donations made in this period will be available for our work at SSCB, and will not be included in our payments to the Central Church – good news for us all. This makes this a great season for us to prayerfully consider what we do with the resources that God has entrusted to us. This is the third in a 4 part series I have written on Giving.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about giving, observing it in action – why we give, how we give and what we give to. I’ve concluded that generosity is a muscle, hidden within each person. We need to exercise it, to flex it, in order for it to grow. If this exercise makes us sweat a bit, challenges us, then it helps our giving muscles to grow. Inevitably, some people exercise more than others, but crucially, the more we exercise it the better we become at giving.
My giving mindset was challenged and shaped by a fundraising project I did for St. Paul’s and St. George’s Church, when Pete and I attended there. The leadership team undertook an enormously expensive building project – we’re talking millions of pounds. Whilst not everyone initially agreed that this was the best use of money, it became abundantly clear that God was in charge of this project – we could either get involved with His vision, or not. In honesty, there wasn’t really a ‘not’ option.
We planned a giving day, encouraged prayerful participation and planning. We needed all the congregation to think about what they could do over several years in order to make the project happen. It challenged us to plan our giving in a way that we hadn’t done before. We started to think sacrificially for the first time, actually giving material things up. People decided that they didn’t need a new kitchen after all and donated the funds to the project. Some gave up family holidays. Some didn’t replace their car. Some stopped eating out, or making their own lunch instead of buying out. Some stopped buying their usual take-out coffees. Some had more time than money and raised money through events, making music, running, making jam. It was a very mixed church so everyone gave what they could, proportional to their own resources.
The planning, praying, and pledging aspect taught us so many lessons. The main lesson I learned was that we had no idea that we could make such a difference. We were not particularly well paid, we did not have any savings to give, however when we really planned and thought about it, we realised that we could give away significantly more than we had ever considered doing before. A regular monthly amount over several years, plus some fundraising, really added up. Secondly, the penny dropped that God really does care about what we do with our resources. He has plans to prosper and protect his people, to care for the vulnerable, to raise up his church – none of this will happen if we don’t step up and play a leading role. Thirdly, we learnt that digging deep, whilst challenging at first, became a habit. We honestly didn’t miss the things we gave up; I can’t even remember what they were now, I only remember what was achieved and how awesome it was to be a small part of Gods enormous plan.
Once the project was complete, we were able to think about what God wanted us to do next – that bit was super exciting! Please don’t take this as bragging, I’m trying to encourage you to get involved in God’s awesome plan for the resources that he has entrusted to you. Perhaps you already know how super exciting it is, in which case, bless you for blessing others. 31st October is the Church of Scotland national pledge day, as it seeks to recover from the significant financial impact of Covid restrictions. This could be your time to find God’s purpose for those resources.
I encourage you to start getting fit. There is never a bad time to start exercising your giving muscle. Start one surprisingly generous gift at a time – one that you really need to think about. I pray it brings you great joy, after all how can following God’s plan do anything else?
National Giving Day – 31st October
Start praying and planning now. There’s no better time.
Account name: St Stephen’s Comely Bank Church
Sort Code 80-11-05
Account Number 00294121
[from Cat Rawlinson-Watkins]