Pursuing Biblical Generosity
In a culture which isn’t very good at talking about generosity, a church in London ran a week of activity to think about what it means to be generous.
At The Globe Church, we have four core values that run through all that we are seeking to do: RELATIONAL, DISCIPLING, MISSIONAL, and GENEROUS.
So, generosity is something we aspire to be and want to pursue. But, especially in our culture, we’re just not very good at talking about it.
Pursuing generosity in church
In order to help us make progress in this area, we established The Globe’s Finance Team. The team has two primary ways of helping Globe to be a generous church: firstly, by stewarding our resources well (doing the accounts, filing the Gift Aid claims etc.); secondly, by proactively teaching our church what Biblical generosity is.
We have published blog posts, taught in Sunday services, and created an online Bible study for people to work through one-to-one.
We also used the recently published The Generosity Project and ran it in our small groups. This gave a real focus on generosity for one term in our church life and we decided to build on that by dedicating a week as Generosity Week.
Many churches have weeks of prayer or weeks of mission - so why not a Generosity Week?
The aim of this week was to put the topic of generosity clearly on the agenda and to provide lots of teaching about a topic that can sometimes be assumed but not explicitly taught. We settled on “Giving as a way of life” as our strapline for the week, then chose a different topic for every day that fitted into this (admittedly very broad) theme.
Generosity Week came at the point where our small groups were three weeks into The Generosity Project studies. This meant we hit the ground running. The week gave us the chance to hear more stories from people with different backgrounds, provided space and resources for more detailed conversations, and got the whole church talking about generosity.
This was not a giving week - we made no specific appeal for money, in fact, the emphasis was very much on generosity as a ‘whole-of-life’ thing.
Due to the Covid pandemic, most of our activity during the week was online - only our Sunday Service was in person. Having events online actually made it so much easier for us to organise and enabled loads of people to engage and connect with what was happening.
We sent out a daily email with a bit of Bible, a short reflection, and a prayer centred around the theme of the day.
On Monday, we had three short video testimonies rather than a reflection. These emails are a great way to teach people and to give them space to reflect. We worked hard to have a diverse group of people teaching in these emails.
We took a break from our sermon series in John to learn from the generosity of the woman who anointed Jesus in Mark 14. Seeing giving as a beautiful thing (verse 6) set up the rest of the week.
Simon Pillar, who was involved in The Generosity Project course, came in to be interviewed about generosity, which was a great opportunity to look beyond our church family.
You can watch the live stream of the service on YouTube or below.
Interview with Jay Marriner and Jeremy Marshall
We had the opportunity to listen to the wisdom of Jay Marriner, a church leader in London, and evangelist (and former banker) Jeremy Marshall about generosity and about their gospel partnership.
It was pretty awesome to learn from their lives and their thinking. This was definitely the most well-attended event of the week - apart from Sunday of course - with about 50 screens showing up on Zoom.
You can watch the Zoom interview on YouTube or below.
Our monthly prayer meeting, Globe Central, was on the theme of generosity.
We spent time praying through God’s generosity to us in Jesus, thanking him for all the specific ways in which he has been generous to us over the past years, and praying through where we need him the coming years.
Questions, prayer, and reflection on Zoom
On Friday, we took an hour to answer some questions and to pray and reflect together on Zoom.
This helpfully rounded off the week. We only had about 13 people show up, but it very much seemed like the right thing to do for whom such time together is a blessing.
Blogs on globe.church
In the run-up to the week, Adriana Kerkstra wrote Generosity is big.
During Generosity Week, Linda Allcock wrote Sharing the gospel and our lives.
We used social media to amplify what was happening, so we generated publicity in the run-up and published the schedule there. We also posted quotes from the blogs and emails and the recording of the interview to increase the audience as much as possible.
Highlights of the week
Many people were grateful for good, Bible-centred teaching on a topic they might not have thought through as thoroughly before. We aimed to make it practical, and it’s been wonderful to hear stories of people taking small steps in generosity.
There were precious and unexpected conversations about generosity with so many church members., resulting in some blog posts being written.
People who have been at church for a long time for the first time setting up a standing order and signing a Gift Aid form because God had challenged them about financial generosity. I know: it’s not just about money. But it’s also not about less than money.
There was a real appreciation of the wisdom from so many different voices during the week: Simon Pillar, Jay Marriner, and Jeremy Marshall who spoke but also the various people who wrote emails and blog posts.
It was great to see how between us God’s generosity has shaped and is shaping who we are.
Suggestions for future Generosity Weeks
The general and daily themes were not very specific and did not necessarily fit together logically. Using a more specific theme and maybe tying the structure to a Bible passage could give the week more kick and make it more memorable.
We didn’t think much about follow-up. That was okay for this year because there were still three weeks of The Generosity Project left so people could keep thinking there, ending in Week 6 of the course which is super practical.
It would be good to prepare something like a pledge to help people actually hang on to the teaching and carry out practical steps.
Financial literacy came up several times as we worked through The Generosity Project and in the run-up to Generosity Week. Quite a number of our church family expressed the need for teaching on very practical matters like budgeting, debt management, and investing. That didn’t fit into our week so we organised a separate event soon after to help people work through those practical matters.
We also didn’t focus on mission as generosity during the week which could have featured.