Stewardship - Inspire March 09 - On the money
Steve Pierce responds to your financial concerns
This recession has got me worried and I’m finding it hard to keep up my giving to my local church.
To talk about giving in a recession may seem naïve at best, harsh, even self-serving at worst. Falling income, the loss of a job, or home repossession are acutely painful. Then again, generosity is a core spiritual value, not an optional extra.
Be encouraged by Bible teaching: all should give as they are able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you (Deuteronomy 16:17; see also 2 Corinthians 8:12). If income falls, no one should feel guilty if giving also falls proportionately.
The Bayeux tapestry pictures Bishop Odo driving the Norman soldiers forward with a club under the words, ‘the bishop comforts (or makes bold) the men’! Scripture is just like that – and this verse ‘comforts’ and challenges.
Firstly, our giving should be determined by what we have, not by the fear of what might happen – or the fear of losing our lifestyle. But when we face financial pressure, too often, giving is the first casualty. We need to rediscover the Gospel of the lilies and of the grass (Matthew 6:28-31): trust in God’s promise to meet our needs and a contentment that knows less can be more and simplicity is beautiful.
One key that helps unlock these things is to begin to budget, as the excellent Martin Lewis, GMTV’s money man, urged recently. Christians who manage what God has entrusted to us should need no second prompting. Budgeting takes control, challenges the fear, plugs the financial leaks and helps make giving a priority.
Secondly, those of us not hit so hard by recession must raise our own giving game. Lower income households are proportionately more generous. A recent American study indicated that committed Christians earning less than $12,500 per year give away roughly 7% of their income, a figure not matched until incomes rise above $90,000.
Our churches will have people who will struggle in this recession and so we will all hurt. Those who are blessed have the joy and the privilege of blessing others (2 Corinthian 9:11-14).
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Steve Pierce is the Head of Stewardship Money, the education ministry supporting churches in giving and good stewardship practice. Send him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org