Generous Giving even in a pandemic
In these less than uplifting times, it’s encouraging to be able to share the good news that in Cornwall Truro Diocese have been awarded funding from the Church of England to support our work in responding to God’s generosity with our own giving.
This means we have been able to transition our work around stewardship to employ two dedicated Generous Giving Advisors, Jenny Wreford and Christine Salaman. Both are a blessing with refreshing perspectives on what responding to God’s generosity can look like.
We might find it hard to talk about money, but Jesus didn’t
Money is something that elicits a response in everybody – it’s too tight to mention, especially now in a pandemic; the church has plenty so why is it asking for more; Cornwall is one of the poorest counties in Europe…and so on. But Jesus had an awful lot to say about money, a lot of which focused on the ‘widow’s mite’ in Mark 12: 41-43
As Jenny says, “I think that as much as the Jesus observation of the widow shows God’s joy that the she gave all she could, the widow wanted to give more in response to God’s generosity. And who wouldn’t? When you really think about what God does for us, the ‘immeasurably more’, how can we not want to give back?”
“When you really think about what God does for us, the ‘immeasurably more’, how can we not want to give back?”
Jenny knows a little of how the widow felt. It wasn’t easy to give money when she first became a Christian. As deep as her love for God was, her pockets were not so. Bringing up two small boys alone and making ends meet was a challenge, but giving back was really important. “When I weighed up what God had done for me, I really wanted to give more than just my loose change, but loose change was pretty much all I had, and that was difficult. Nevertheless, I took a step of faith to honour God by tithing, giving back to him 10% of everything I earned.”
What is a Generous Giving Advisor? Isn’t it just another way of asking for more money?
When Jenny saw the advertisement for a Generous Giving Advisor, she wasn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect! “I didn’t want to pressure people into giving money, but God prompted me to look further. I understood that the job is more about encouraging and motivating people in their relationships with God. Once we truly know and are convicted about Christ’s love for us, giving back is something you want to do, not feel you have to.”
“Once we truly know and are convicted about Christ’s love for us, giving back is something you want to do, not feel you have to.”
Christine agrees. She hopes to encourage a culture of generosity within parishes across Cornwall, and enable and empower churches to talk about giving in a way that doesn’t make everyone roll their eyes and tighten their grip on their debit cards. “We know it’s hard, especially at the moment, but look at the power of that widow’s mite – generosity changes atmospheres, cultures, lives.
“We know it’s hard, especially at the moment, but look at the power of that widow’s mite – generosity changes atmospheres, cultures, lives.”
Our response should not be ritualistic, we give because we want to respond to all that we have been given
In Ezekiel 36:26, it says, ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’ The Israelites had commandments written in stone that they felt duty bound to obey. Jesus changed all that. He came in flesh and showed us the beauty of being in a relationship with Him. As Jenny says, “Our response to God is not ritualistic, we don’t respond because we’ve been told to. Giving money shouldn’t be ritualistic either. Jesus changes us from the inside out and that’s the gift I want to work with, to come alongside people and inspire them so that they want to give.”
“Jesus changes us from the inside out and that’s the gift I want to work with, to come alongside people and inspire them so that they want to give.”
Generous giving is not just about the day to day running of the church but to enable ministry for social justice
This pandemic has been appalling, it has taken and destroyed in ways we never imagined a year ago. Yet from its darkness, light has shone and shown the extraordinary value of giving generously. Across Cornwall people have taken to heart Jesus’ desire that we love one another as He has loved us. Church doors may have had to close but churches themselves have never been more open to how they can practically help. In every community across Cornwall, there is a church at the cornerstone of social action, supporting foodbanks, homeless projects, families in crisis, signposting agencies, delivering food packages, care packages, craft packages for children being home-schooled. As Christine says, “Generous Giving is not just about the day today running of our churches but to enable some of this amazing ministry and outreach to take place.”
Even in small churches that have been unable to offer major support, small acts of kindness have made huge differences to their communities. Phoning to check everyone is okay, arranging for collection and delivery of shopping or prescriptions and that no one is forgotten. Generosity of spirit is also supported with generosity of money, or food, or time.
The Generous Giving Advisors are a resource and encouragement
The Generous Giving Advisors are a great resource for the parishes, to come alongside, help nurture and grow this culture of giving generously. Supported by a raft of useful resources, they can offer practical advice from the mechanisms of giving to how to broach the typically un-British subject of giving money. But most importantly, they can encourage us all to share in the privilege of responding generously to God’s generosity to us.
If you want to have a chat with Jenny or Christine please click on their names to email them.