Church and Money – setting a postive tone

Many church leaders will be facing their annual congregational meetings in the next month. And a lot of the conversation will likely revolve around money.

I hope I can help set a positive tone for these discussions to encourage my parishioners — and indeed Canadians from all Christian denominations — to be generous, as their expression of love for God, for Christ’s Church on earth, and for the world in so desperate a need these days.

Recently a Huffington Post article presented some interesting statistics. These facts may provide a helpful background for pastors, priests and church leaders as they prepare their hearts and minds for these annual meetings.

– Of the provinces and territories in Canada, Manitobans are for the 14th year in a row the most generous of all Canadians in charitable giving

– Even so, Manitoba ranked 39th out of 63 jurisdictions including all the states in the USA, provinces and territories in Canada

– Utah, which ranked 1st in generosity, made charitable donations totaling about three and a half times more than what Manitobans gave

– The extent of charitable giving by the provinces hasn’t improved as donations have plummeted since 2010, especially in Ontario

– Charles Lammam, Associate Director of the Fraser Institute said, “Had Canadians donated to registered charities at the same rate as Americans, Canada’s charities would have received an additional $9.2 billion in private support in 2010”

Given these facts, I am encouraged to reflect on something stewardship resources and voices have affirmed over time: God has already given us enough of what we need to do whatever we feel called to do, in Jesus’ name, with the Church, for the sake of God’s mission in the world today.

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During Advent, we prepare to receive the greatest gift of the season – the gift of Jesus. And the living Jesus guides us today to be generous to others in our gift-giving.

To celebrate our gracious giving both in small and big ways, please submit into the gift box on the altar at Faith Lutheran Church in Ottawa a small piece of paper on which you write your special “one gift” – a random act of kindness you did (e.g., gave an empty parking spot to someone else, gave a cup of coffee to a homeless person, volunteered at the food bank, helped carry parcels for someone, spend time with a loved one, gave money to support an important mission, etc.).

During the Christmas Eve and Day services, some of these “gifts for good” will be read out (anonymously) – all to signify the unconditional character of gift-giving in Jesus’ name.

It’ll be our collective present to Jesus. Thank you!