Getting off the giving hamster wheel
Earlier this year we sent all PCCs in the Dioecse of Norwich a copy of the new Giving for Life: Continuing the Journey checklist.
It helps PCCs to review their practice on stewardship matters, and to identify and prioritise areas for development.
What we know is that many parishes don’t like talking about money – so they only talk about money when there’s a problem – which sadly, is all too often and so some parishes tell us that they never stop talking about money – and it feels a bit like a hamster wheel where you keep going round and round ever faster struggling to raise the funds needed for mission and ministry.
Earlier this year more than 1000 parishes completed a survey, parishes of all shapes and sizes and from all over the country – with some exciting results. It confirms that most parishes have improved their practice over recent years – most parishes now preach and teach on money at least once a year, most now send out a thank you letter, most ask their church members to review their giving annually, most have signed up with parish buying, and so on.
On the basis of this proven good practice, we’ve provided a new checklist to help your church council review your practice in relation to giving – and spend twenty minutes or so agreeing priorities for adopting good practice, and agreeing a simple action plan. For each of the elements of good practice, there is guidance and resources available to help you.
The checklist is titled ‘Continuing the Journey’ as we recognise that this is a process that will take time, and it’s helpful to identify a few things that will make a real difference every year or so. Doing so will get you off the hamster wheel, secure in the knowledge that you’re doing the right things, and free up time to move on to think about priorities for mission and ministry.
We have very many generous givers supporting our parishes, but sometimes we don’t help them link their giving to their faith, explain how the parish uses their money and how it makes a difference, or even thank them. This checklist provides a simple way of ensuring that you are supporting your givers.
The wider context for Giving for Life is that of discipleship – that as followers of Jesus we’re called to be generous in every situation, just as the Good Samaritan was generous in one of Jesus’ parables. Giving is a faith issue rather than simply a money issue, that we respond to a generous God who has blessed us richly, and we are stewards of that which has been entrusted to us – as individuals, and also as churches. As well as setting giving in the faith context, it’s also important that we provide two further perspectives – to help our congregations understand the reality of their parish’s financial situation and the difference that their giving makes to the mission and ministry of the church.
So let me encourage you to allocate 20 to 30 minutes at your next PCC meeting.
Download the checklist at www.dioceseofnorwich.org/churches/stewardship
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