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Giving is a way of life.  It goes beyond money, but it does involve our resources too.

By Ven. Kim Van Allen

St. John’s-by-the-Lake, Grand Bend, is embarking on a Stewardship Campaign they have named ‘Joyful Giving’. 

They created a Stewardship Committee who explored resources available on our diocesan stewardship webpage as well as the Diocese of Toronto and other organizations.  St. John’s-by-the-Lake has invested time and energy preparing a stewardship focus that is right for them.  Like other aspects of ministry, stewardship is shaped by the needs and the context.  Taking time to explore resources and to have a conversation about what we want to accomplish makes good sense.  This approach also builds understanding and may create the path towards a mutually shared ministry. 

Communicating all of this is well-planned in this parish involving a new Communications’ Committee and development of a narrative budget.  Narrative budgets are a wonderful tool to help us see the cost of a ministry – for example ‘worship’ costs might include: resources, HR, paper, copying, heat, etc. – rather than look at each of these specific costs as traditional budget lines alone.  Words and pictures help paint a meaningful picture beyond numbers.

‘Joyful giving’ reminds me of the biblical passage ‘God loves a cheerful giver’ from 2 Corinthians 9:7. God does not want a grumpy giver!  Where is the joy in that?  Verse 7 begins with these words ‘Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion …’ 

A parishioner once asked me ‘Kim, when is it enough?’  This was a serious and faithful question from a man who gave generously of his time, his skills, and his money.  His generosity was a way of life for him.  He lived joyful giving through his personal, community, and work relationships just as he did through his involvement in the church. He lived the life of a disciple.

He wasn’t one of the people gathered for bible study or prayer group.  His skill and interests took him into other aspects of parish life. 

How would you answer his question?  When have we given enough?  Perhaps it is when the ‘giving’, whatever that might be, no longer gives us joy.  I think that is the message of ‘God loves a cheerful giver’ - emphasis on cheerful! 

Paul would add that if giving of our selves feels like too much, it could be beyond our reach at this time or it could mean that we are not ready to give that much. Giving is a spiritual aspect of our discipleship. I know we do not look at stewardship from the lens of spirituality, but that is where it belongs. 

Giving is a way of life.  It goes beyond money, but it does involve our resources too.  Think of all the ways you have given of yourselves.  Reflect on the ways you are a cheerful giver.  Is it easy for you to give generously of your time?  Alternatively, do you feel you are too busy to nurture some of the relationships in your life?  Do you donate money generously or have you been donating the same 2% of your income for the last decade?  Are you able to help someone out when they need the kind of skills God has given you or do you resent these requests?

Perhaps your parish would like to explore more deeply the Christian life which we call Discipleship.  Joyful Giving has a cousin, Gratitude.  Perhaps gratitude is the fruit of Joyful Giving.  When we give generously of our selves, someone will likely be grateful for our gift whether it is a caring presence, our assistance, or something we have shared.  We also will feel grateful for the joy we have experienced in giving and this feeling may surprise us!

Joyful Giving - be surprised!

Ven. Kim Van Allen is a member of the diocesan Stewardship Committee and the Archdeacon of Huron/Perth.