Tuesday, 18 December 2012


At the beginning of one of our building projects at King’s (and there have been several in the life of this church since I came!) I wrote to the leaders of our church – that would include those who lead ministries or small groups - to tell them that we were in earnest discussion with banks and I said, ‘I need to know if you are really with us!’ Their response was to commit themselves to giving over £720,000 over the first three and a half years of the project. There were 150 of them, representing 88 ‘giving units’ as some of them were married. That’s 88 families committing themselves to giving.

Since I began to lead King’s I have taught the following principle: give 10%/save 10%/ live off 80%. This makes for sound budgeting and is honouring to God. The thing is – most people live of 105% of their income – that’s the culture we are in and the results of that approach have caught up with our world in a big way, in case you haven’t noticed! Spend, borrow and manage debt is the way the world does things – but living by the 80/10/10 principle will restrict some of the things you would like to do because you are making a priority call – putting God first and putting something aside for a rainy day.

There will be those who are in debt and who would like to honour God but have lived life at 105%. Being in debt is not fun – we know that. It can be crippling and can destroy lives. At King’s, in order to offer help and support in this area, like some other churches we have set up a debt advice team – people who will sit down with those in debt and help them to see the way ahead.

For others it is simply a matter of making priority calls and deciding what to do with the money we have. To give at King’s, people can put cash in the buckets as they are passed round during worship - but those who have been around the church for any length of time will know that as those buckets go along the rows, especially the front row, it begins to look as though no-one is giving anything. No-one seems to put anything in the bucket! The reason for this is simple – we actively encourage people to give by monthly standing order directly from their account into the church bank account. There is a great deal of money given in this way – the easiest way to give. So, for Deb and I, we have worked out what to give and when there is a salary increase I immediately work out the extra needed so that by the next bank transfer it has been updated. That’s how we do it!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Willing giving!

King’s continues to seek to raise millions of pounds beyond our usual tithes. As we look at the Old Testament we see that beyond their tithes there were opportunities for them to give offerings – voluntary and freewill offerings. I want to draw your attention to three such occasions.

In Exodus 36, when the Tabernacle was being built, it records that the Israelites brought freewill offerings ‘morning after morning’. The result was that the skilled workmen who were creating the Tabernacle left their work to come to Moses and ask him to tell the people to stop giving as there was more than enough! And it says that Moses did so and ‘the people were restrained from bringing more’ (Ex 36:3-6). This is a leadership challenge I have yet to face – but would love to have to deal with! In the past I have restrained one generous lady from giving £25,000 to one of the King’s projects – knowing her circumstances I thought this was a right thing to do. She gave £5,000 instead.

The next example is in King David’s time. He raised money to honour God but it was his son, Solomon, who actually did the building. David raised the money before it was actually needed. In 1 Chronicles 29 it says,

‘Then the leaders of families and the officers of the tribe of Israel, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly. They gave towards the work of the temple of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze and a hundred thousand talents of iron.’
It’s a great passage! Afterwards David stands and gives a great prayer of thanksgiving – if you read it you will notice that it has great similarities to what we call the Lord’s Prayer and is the Old Testament foundation for it – in effect, the Lord’s Prayer is founded on generous, willing giving!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The early church and giving

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about giving and instructed them like this,

‘On the first day of the week each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income’

This indicates that giving should be regular, systematic and proportional. Later on, in the second and third century, Iranaeus, an early church father said, ‘The Jews were constrained to regular payments of tithes. Christians, who have liberty, assign all their possessions to the Lord, bestowing freely not the lesser portions of their property since they have the hope of greater things.’ In other words – it’s all His!

Augustine even put it this way – ‘let him render tithes and out of nine parts let him seek to give alms.’ In other words, there’s the principle of the tithe as the starting point of giving and then you ‘give alms’ on top of that – that’s showing mercy by giving to those in need.

So how are we doing with this? You might say to me, ‘Steve – you are always talking about grace. Doesn’t grace mean that God loves us – even if we don’t do anything that comes close to this?’ And you would be right! The message of grace is that God’s acceptance of us in Christ is not dependant on our performance. We cannot earn our salvation – we couldn’t earn it before we came to Christ and we can’t earn it afterwards, either. But – it would be a misrepresentation of the message of grace if we took it to mean, ‘I don’t need to pray, I don’t need to read my Bible, it doesn’t matter how I live my life... and it doesn’t matter what I do with my money!’

Randy Alcorn wrote this, ‘I will listen to the Christian who says ‘Tithing isn’t meant for us today’ – provided that he gives regularly and that his giving exceeds the tithe.’ Now there’s a statement to make us smile – and think! That’s the message of grace. Under the grace of the law it was a tithe – surely under the grace of Christ it can’t be a lesser amount... can it?’