Money

414898D400000578-4572824-image-a-3_1497341544509It’s very tricky preparing a talk about money, particularly thinking about how our faith radically affects our attitude to how much we earn and how much we give. These are highly personal subjects for many of us and I am fully expecting some disagreements as I explore the standards the Bible sets us in these two areas of Christian living.

Over the last few days I have been reading lots of articles and listening to many online sermons on this subject – most of which challenge our notion of giving.  The Bible lays out a baseline minimum principle of giving a tenth of all our earnings to God.  The mistake many people make is thinking of the tenth as the limit (that’s all I must d0), when the spirit of these teachings is that this is the starting point.  If you can give more than a tenth – then do it.  We worship an outrageously generous God who inspires us to risk the joys of outrageous generosity.

The challenge we have at RBC is that the money we receive from offerings and gifts is barely covering our costs. This directly affects the ministries that we are able to support or initiate.  I’m told that if each member of the congregation were prepared to give as little as £3.00 extra each week (the price of a coffee), we would be easily meet our projected budget for this year and be able to consider new community improvement outreach projects, new appointments and maybe even a few improvements around the premises, So imagine if people said, ‘I’m going to commit to giving an extra £6 a week – two coffees!….or  imagine how many coffees we could not buy each week to purchase and convert the old Longmead Adult education centre into a thriving Christian community hub! (Just an example)

As I say- difficult and challenging – because this isn’t about money – it’s about our hearts- and no one wants to hear that their heart is not good.

Earning is even trickier. I came across this amazing sermon preached by John Wesley, back in the 1700’s he wrote, “Earn all you can with paying more for it than it is worth.”  He goes on to say that any job that affects one’s healthy, physically, mentally, or spiritually, is not worth it. We should not continue in a business if it deprives us of time to sleep or eat. If we are earning all we can for God’s sake, then it is part of God’s will that we take care of ourselves and have whole and healthy lives, The two shouldn’t work against each other. So, earn all you can, but not at the expense of losing your soul.

He then goes on to say, “Earn all you can, but not at the expense of your neighbour”. What we do to earn money should give all people life- not death; not ill health; not make them poorer; not take away their livelihood. In other words, the golden rule of loving your neighbour as yourself is true with how we earn and spend our money too.

I’m sure you all have opinions on this and I am doing my best to stick to the Biblical teaching of earning fairly and giving generously.

I’ll be preaching on 03 June on earning fairly and 08 July on giving generously and hope to see you then

 

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Availability

busy-diary1Two meetings this week were cancelled this week because of people’s availability. The dates were set in advance, notice given, agendas planned, everything ready to roll, ideas would be discussed, decisions made, and lessons would be learned. Truth be told, I was looking forward to these meetings. But then apologies were received until a critical point was reached, resulting in rescheduling and cancellation. People were no longer available.

To be honest my first response in this situation is one of annoyance. I’ve booked the date in my busy diary, why can’t other people do the same – especially when good notice is given?  But then I found myself doing exactly the same thing for a meeting I was expected at yesterday.  Time constraints, deadlines and unforeseen interruptions made it very difficult to honour a date set aside in my diary. So, I cancelled.  And whilst I had cleared some time and space – I was aware of the hypocrisy finger pointing straight back at me.

This Sunday I am starting a morning series on whole life discipleship I’m calling, ‘Faith, Work and Money’. The opening big picture message from Colossians 1 directs us to consider that all areas of life are of interest to Jesus and so the sacred / secular divide lens through which Christians often view life is not always helpful, or correct. I’ll unpack this more on Sunday, but the point is that our everyday life (outside church) has just as much significance as our church life in the eyes of God – according to Paul in Colossians.

The challenge to someone like me is that I might be somehow subconsciously communicating that ‘church’ related meetings and gatherings should be prioritised over other interests. Not so, would be Paul’s response.

A great friend of mine used to say the best we can offer God is our availability. Through this next series we will be exploring how available we are for God in those hours and days we are not in church. Not to layer on the guilt (you should be evangelising more) but by recognising God could be using you in ways not recognised or understood.

There’s something I’d like to write on the other side of this discussion about, honouring commitments, keeping to your word and not letting people down. But how can I write this when I have done exactly the same thing?

So, I’ll finish with the words from that old mission praise song.

‘Here I am wholly available. As for me, I will serve the Lord’

See you Sunday

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Belonging

I’ve woken up again buzzing from last night’s church meeting where we welcomed in another new member to RBC, planned another baptism service and took a step of faith with a staff appointment.

As an aside we even worked through some tricky safeguarding and GDPR compliance issues.  What a church!

I truly believe that church membership is the best thing for a committed Christian who is involved or desires to be involved in the life of the church.  If you join us in worship and hear God through the preaching and teaching of the church, it makes sense to me that you are part of the direction forming prayers and decisions we make and affirm at the church meeting. You are part of the steering of the church that you belong to. The family analogy is over used but the church meeting is comparable to the talk around the family meal table when we catch up and pray for each other and discuss our plans and ideas.  If you are not a member and this appeals to you please get in touch.

We have a baptism service coming up. Sunday July 1st at the 10 AM service. Its going to be great. One man wants to publicly declare his commitment to follow Jesus and tell his story. I suspect that there may be others in our ‘family’ who are ready to make this stand. We have room for many more in the water on 1st July. Again, if you are ready, get in touch…let’s do this!

Our Family Coordinator role is metamorphosing into a new Community Worker role. As Miranda’s hours increase and her role is redefined, the Community Worker is invited to join the Elders as they meet and pray together so we have the benefit of her insight and experience from this cutting edge outward focussed ministry. The great news is we as a church can afford to this (just).  The step of faith is that people agreed to this even before we looked at the figures, it’s the right thing to do, so we will do it.

We also managed to highlight the tension of being a vibrant believing community (family) that is also a charitable organisation that needs to be well run as we think of our safety and data compliance. We need good organisational expertise which is definitely present in our membership and congregation to ensure that we are working in a God honouring effective way.  We will need to draw on such expertise as the church continues to Refuel, Refocus and Relate together. I’d like you to bear that in mind as we start thinking of Elders’ elections later this year.

Many other things happened last night, these are just the highlights, which to me celebrates what a great church RBC is to belong to.

This Sunday is ‘Open Church’ – an opportunity to bring friends for a ‘taster’ of what goes on. It’s not a normal Sunday, but we’re not a normal church: we are Redhill Baptist Church, a church you can belong to.

See you Sunday

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Creativity

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Last Sunday evening, John Nelstrop led an amazing ‘In my place’ session on homegrown worship and song writing. Through the evening he introduced and performed a selection of the many songs he & Matt & Rachel Greenwood have written for RBC. I was blown away by the creativity, depth of maturity and insightful content of the songs we considered together, something that I worry is sometimes lacking in some of the songs we sing together.

For example, compare these two lyrics:

 

‘Though I may walk in the valley of the dead,

I will fear no ill.

Your rod and staff always comfort me

So by Your side I’ll stay

Come and meet me here

Oh lay me down again

By the quite water’s edge

Let my soul be still again

Come and make me whole again’

 

With ……

 

‘You’re all I want

You’re all I ever needed

You’re all I want

Help me know you are near’

 

One is deeply versed in an understanding of scripture and the other is ……… not!

One is a homegrown worship song the other is sung by congregations around the world.

We have some very creative people at RBC and I’d love to be lifting the cork off the bottle and releasing that creativity to help bless us all.

Of course, worship is a lot more than just singing and I think it would be great to start encouraging and incorporating new elements of creativity into our worship times. For example, I’m imagining poetry, drama (but not mime- you can go too far), liturgy, even art! I know of one church where there is a resident artist who paints through the service.

I would love to hear your ideas and start incorporating them into our times together.

Our creator God made us creative – so let’s worship Him creatively

See you Sunday

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PS I’m only joking about mime