Hello everyone, welcome to the weekly video. This week I’m inside Church Stretton church. This is an amazing re-ordering that frees up the building to be so much more than just a space for worship. It was made possible by the sacrificial generosity of God’s people here giving over a number of years to achieve this goal.
In this video I want to talk about money! I realise that runs the risk of many of you switching off at this point and I’ll be able to tell.One of the really bad things about social media is I can tell how many people have watched and shared this every week.But Jesus was not averse to talking about both money and politics.In fact, he talked about money almost more than he talked about anything else. He realised that how we spend our money is a very good guide to what’s important to us. He saw how it can easily become a master not a servant. He saw that its an issue of discipleship. If we are followers of Jesus its not just a limited spiritual compartment of our lives it’s about the whole of life: our money, our ambitions, how we spend our time, all of it.
Our conversations can be reduced to questions of, “how much?” But before we get there its our underlying attitude that’s more important.Paul, in advising the Corinthian Church about their offerings said, “God loves a cheerful giver.” The Greek word for cheerful is Hilarion, from where we get hilarious.There is a countercultural, extravagant generosity in the early church.Freely they had received, freely they gave. That generosity was borne out of trust in God’s provision, they were sure that as followers of Jesus they would always have enough.
Ken Old, the man I worked for in Pakistan 35 years ago was a towering missionary statesman. Some years previously he had been put in charge of an orphanage. When he arrived, he asked how much money they had in their deposit account? The answer was- nothing. He then asked how much was in their current account. The answer was – currently, nothing. Well how much money do you have? We have 10 rupees, but when the money runs out tell the children, they’ll know what to do! And with that they left him in charge.Sure enough, after a few days there was no money.At supper he told the children, at which point a young boy stood up and prayer, “Lord, Papa says we have no money, but you know we have to eat, amen.” The next day, Ken, somewhat anxious about where the next meal was coming from heard a knock at the door an opened it.Two rather smartly dressed gentlemen introduced themselves. “We’re from the UN food programme and we would like to do a nutritional trial in a small community, could we do it here?” The only thing is that we’d have to supply all the food for the next year, would that be a problem!” Ken said, “come in!”
A few years later the next person came to take over and sat in Ken’s kitchen. The following dialogue ensued, “how much money is in your deposit account? The answer was- nothing; how much was in their current account. The answer was – currently, nothing. Well how much money do you have? We have 10 rupees, but when the money runs out tell the children, they’ll know what to do!
I became a Christian in 1978 and it took a while before I first learned about Christian giving.I was firmly convicted that tithing (10%) was a good principle. The crunch came when I got a grant cheque (remember those). Through gritted teeth, I wrote a cheque for exactly 10% and sent it to Tear Fund. It was a very strange amount down to the penny. The next morning, I got a cheque through the post for exactly the same amount from the DHSS. I’d signed on about 9 months previously and it had taken that long for the money to come out of the system.The prophet Malachi in Ch. 3 says, “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.Test me in this,” says the Lord almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
Shortly after I arrived in my first incumbency we prayerfully decided to do a building development in the tower to create a couple of rooms and mean that the building could be used far more flexibly.It was about £80,000, but since the last capital fundraising had taken 9 months, a huge amount of effort and yielded only £12,000 there was an insistence that we start a 6 person fundraising committee. They were rather taken aback when I insisted we weren’t going to meet until after we had had 2 days of prayer and a gift day. When the day came to announce the results, we praised God together that we were only £3060 pounds short.After the service someone gave me a cheque for £3000 and we did have our fundraising committee, but I just collected £10 each from them and we were done.
We face some very significant financial challenges as a diocesan family over the next couple of years. We are going to ask folk to be sacrificially generous.But we are not going to just do this with request letters and more fundraising.I’m going to call us all to pray, and then I am unashamedly going to call us to give generously, not because there is a COVID-19 shaped hole in the diocesan budget, but because Christians are generous givers and God has given us so much. We love because he first loved us; we give in response to his generosity and provision.
Have a good week and may we all bring the whole tithe into the storehouse and experience for ourselves Gods promise…Test me in this,” says the Lord almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Personally, in 42 years following my Lord I have always found this to be true.