This weekend the generous spirit of the church I serve humbled me. Scripture speaks more of money than just about any other daily topic and many churches are scared to talk about it, many preachers are scared to ask for it, and many congregants are reluctant to part with it. I regularly hear stories of churches where the minister is stuck, hamstrung and unable to be “effective” because they cannot get the funds to put into place any of the ideas they have.
Not so here at St. Andrew’s Duncan. I believe that when we read in Acts that property was sold and things bought and given to those who had need we ought to be big-hearted about what was being given. Paul asks how people can believe in a god they haven’t heard about, Jesus says his is the only name by which we can approach God, and so I believe that spreading the gospel, buying tools that will allow us to promulgate the good news, is part of the call to sell our possessions and give the needy what they need. In short, it isn’t all about material needs but also about spiritual needs.
I have set my sights on preaching my way through Living Faith the confession of faith ratified by the Presbyterian Church in Canada. It is a wonderful little document outlining what we take to be the keys to the faith for today and in a Canadian context. The issue I faced is that while many Presbyterian churches have copies of Living Faith in their pews, we do not. This week I asked the congregation if anyone would be interested in donating enough copies to supply the church with them, perhaps they could be offered as a memorial for someone who has passed recently, I said.
I was nervous asking for such a gift, it felt like a rather bald plea for money, which, believe it or not, is not something we ministers like to do. Far from bothered by this request (and remember our regular givings are certainly healthy and people could quite fairly have grumbled that they already give so much…) people responded. It’s just how God works, you would think that I (being a minister who received tons of support during seminary and continues to be supported today) would get used to the fact that with God the cup overflows.
During the offering someone stood up and challenged the congregation to give whatever change they had on them towards this project. Within minutes of the service ending two people offered to cover the whole sum in memory of loved ones. I was excited by this, feeling so blessed to be part of a church where people were so committed, so willing to support the efforts towards proclaiming the Gospel. Then on Tuesday I got word from our treasurer that the change raised is likely enough to cover the cost of the books.
Do you understand what that means? We are a church that has more than enough, a church that God provides for. It means we are a church where people are so generous it can be hard to find good and useful avenues for the money to flow down so that the Gospel would be promoted, lives changed, the word proclaimed and the love of God felt! This week I feel blessed to be part of such a wonderful bible-reading and bible acting church.