When times are tough we just give it all away

Published February 1, 2009

JESUS KNEW ALL about our preoccupation with money and possessions. That is undoubtedly why he preached more about money than anything else during his three-year ministry.

As reflected in this month’s Anglican Journal, Canadians are facing an economic challenge as we deal with tougher times. Increased unemployment leads to an increased need for food banks. We have become more cautious about how we spend or invest. Even pension plans, everybody’s economic security blanket, seem at risk.

Despite it all, reports indicate that donations to charities – including the church – are up.

It seems that whenever we face financial difficulties, we examine our lifestyles, consider how richly we have been blessed, and then give just a bit extra to our favourite charity. Not surprisingly, churches are playing an increasing role in providing shelter to the homeless and food to the hungry.

Anglicans have learned a thing or two from Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy … but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”

We know what it means to give and to give again. We know that when there is a global disaster, we give freely and generously to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF). And when the Anglican Journal Appeal comes around, we eagerly give $50 or more – several give more than $1,000 – so that Anglican publications can keep coming to our homes month after month. We know good value when we see it.

We have learned all about the Four Ts of Stewardship – time, talents (gifts), trees (creation) and tithes (finances). We know that all that we have, we receive from God. We are guardians or stewards of those resources.

When economic times become more precarious, one would expect us to tighten our fists around our money and our possessions; clinging to our security. That is the human condition. Instead, our hands tend to open wide … both to receive more and to give more. The more we are blessed, the more we share our God-given wealth with others.

Whenever a church or an organization asks for a donation, it provides us with an incredible opportunity for ministry because it helps people like you and me to weigh our priorities and determine how we can invest our God-given riches into meaningful ministry enterprises. The Anglican church is chock full of ministry opportunities, at the parish, diocesan, national and international levels.

Like Henri Nouwen, I, too, used to approach fundraising “as a necessary but unpleasant activity to support spiritual things.” Today, I echo Nouwen when he says: “Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.”

As 2009 unfolds, what is your vision and mission? Which ministry opportunities will you support? As you open your hands, let your gifts flow freely to your parish, local Out of the Cold programs, the overseas ministry of PWRDF, the Anglican church’s communication network through the Anglican Journal, wherever your passion lies. And as you reflect on all that you have, consider effective ways to give it all away. As you regularly review your will, consider leaving a legacy to the church or to one of a host of church-related ministries. The church has a highly professional department of philanthropy with a large network of gift planning consultants. They will help you develop a tailor-made financial plan.

Have you noticed how amazing things happen when you cheerfully give your money away? While it is important to leave a bequest to the church, it is especially rewarding to give it away while you are still alive … so that you can see the fruits of your donation: whether you are able to give away $100 or $10 million.


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