Looking back through my notes I discover that this is the tenth finance update I have written at Everyday Church. The first one was written at the end of March 2020. We had just entered the world of COVID and though there is uncertainty in what I wrote, I can remember thinking at the time that we might be in that season for the rest of that year – but surely no longer that that!
Well as I write this I am myself recovering from COVID. We did not imagine that we would be working under the shadow of this illness for nearly two years. Nor has COVID been the only challenge that we have worked through in 2020 and 2021.
Many churches and organisations have struggled in this season. Again, looking back at my notes from leadership meetings in the spring of 2020 we were voicing real concerns about our finances. We did have to make some hard decisions on staffing and we have had to be cautious in our spending.
However, by the grace of God, as a result of your generosity and thanks to the hard work and diligence of our finance team, we have all but broken even over the last two years. We have also been able to support others for whom this season has been especially tough.
The Year Ahead
Whilst it is important to honour and learn from the past, it is also vital that we look to the future. Our prayerful hope is that we will emerge from COVID in this coming year. However, our hope is not in the defeat of a virus, our hope is in God and the calling he has placed on our lives as individuals and as a community.
Recently in one of our early morning prayer meetings (why not join us on Zoom – 8:00am every morning), we were encouraged to seek God for what he might be saying to us this year. The flood of encouraging words and scriptures was just wonderful – here is just one of them:
My beloved spoke and said to me,
‘Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
The fig-tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.’
Song of Songs 2:10-13
These verses have followed me in my walk with God for over 30 years – Gwen and I had them read at our wedding. Together with others shared on that morning, they remind us that God is eager to bring blessing. God has been so faithful in these last 2 years, but we know he longs to break out in fresh ways in the coming year.
Growing in Generosity
We want to be part of that Kingdom adventure and we know that being generous with our finances is a key part of our worship of, and walk with, God. Consider these words from 2 Corinthians:
Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures for ever.’
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Paul moves seamlessly from encouraging me to be generous with my finances, to God’s grace filled generosity in all areas of righteousness. I want to step afresh into this adventure in 2022, how about you?
I love the fact that Paul is both deeply theological and thoroughly practical. He encourages us to “give what we have decided” – in short we should be intentional about our giving.
Growing in generosity is all about being intentional about the next step. In our helpful guide to giving “Money Matters” we are encouraged to think about some practical steps on the journey towards generosity:
- Steward – Make yourself a budget.
- Start – Begin to give whatever you are able.
- Strategic – Start to gift aid (which adds 25% to your gift) and commit to a standing order (which enables better budgeting for the church).
- Sacrificial – Give 10% of your income.
- Step up – With God’s help go beyond 10%
Becoming more like Jesus, is about allowing the Holy Spirit to grow in us the very character of God. Growing into God’s generosity as a church family is about us all taking individual steps. What step is the Holy Spirit prompting you to take at the start of this year?
2021 End of Year Summary
We will give a more detailed breakdown of our 2021 spending and our 2022 budget in our next finance update. However, we have an open policy with our finances and we will try and answer any question you may have. If you have a question please email firstname.lastname@example.org