Are we a generous church?

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Are we a generous church?

Are we a generous church?

Nope.

Unfortunately not.

Well, it depends…

…when it comes to time and energy given to serving on teams then, yes, I think we are a generous and committed community. The vast majority of Redeemer is involved in serving in some way and this is beautiful expression of family.

However, when it comes to money the numbers do not lie. Regarding regular, financial giving the cold, hard, honest truth is that we are not a generous church.

Obviously, this is not good.

Last Sunday I preached on generosity (listen here if you missed it) and shared these two sobering statistics:

  • 90% of our leaders give regularly. That sounds strong but in reality that means that 10% of those leading do not regularly give. Regular financial giving to your local church community should be a given for all disciples of Jesus. For leaders, it is without question.

  • 34% of the whole Redeemer community give regularly. 34%. I’ll just leave that there.

These figures show the number of people that give regularly. But they don’t reveal whether the nature of our giving is in any way generous or sacrificial. That is obviously a more personal thing to discern. Only we truly know our own hearts and how generous we really are. I and other Senior Leaders include ourselves in that. We are together in this.

What it means to be Generous

It’s difficult to face the facts because of what they tell us – that we are not a very generous church. We are not a very generous people. And it’s difficult to argue this any other way. If you are like me and you believe in the church, then that truth stings. So it should. It stings because I believe we want to be a generous church. Each Sunday we talk about our desire to be a generous people and this desire comes — not from a sense of duty — but as a response to the lavish, rampant generosity of God towards us.

The Apostle Paul outlines to the church in Corinth the simple dynamic of a heart responding to God’s grace:

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 8:1)

The grace of our God is truly astounding. Extraordinary. We walk in it every day. Nothing we have in this life is earned. It’s all because of sheer grace. And when we truly allow the reality of this love and grace to sink into us we surely cannot help but respond by giving our whole lives to this God and His Kingdom. We do not respond reluctantly or out of compulsion but from a well of devotion that should spring up within our souls. We become cheerfully undone.

Generosity is simply ‘love in action’. Love for the God who first loved us. Love for the God who sustains the cosmos… and our bank balances. Love for the God who gave himself for us in Christ. Love for His Kingdom as a vision of the world we are completely sold to. Love, demonstrated in concrete action. Love in response to “every generous act and every perfect gift [that comes] from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).

When the love of God truly breaks into our lives any tethering to the kingdom of this world is severed for good.

Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matt 6)


Jesus own words — spoken in his Sermon on the Mount — cut straight to the issue. His words are clear. You cannot serve both God and money. Where you store up treasure is where you will find your heart. What you behold, you become. Where you invest, you tether your heart. The journey of becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus is one of yielding everything including our money. The reason that giving back to God first and giving to his work in the world is a principal of His Kingdom isbecause where we give our money determines the formation and location of our hearts. This is clear, significant and weighty stuff from Jesus.

If responding to God’s grace is lacking and if devotion to Christ and His Kingdom is not evident in our lives then we have a disconnect. Grace is simply astounding… but grace is not permission to remain spiritually immature. The Spirit of God — when allowed to have His way — will begin to convict, challenge and draw us to change our ways. Surely we need to take on the posture of King David in Psalm 139:

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
 test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

Whats the big deal about money?

The big idea about money in scripture is that there can be no significant spiritual growth until our money and our attitude toward money are placed into God’s hands. 

Why? Well, I think it’s because money is simply too big a force. It can be incredibly powerful for good and ill. Handled well, it is very useful. But it certainly cannot go unchecked. It needs addressing. Remember, the scriptures teach us that it is the love of money that is the root of all evil.

10 "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

— 1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV)

With the help of the Holy Spirit, the job of those in spiritual leadership — like myself and Redeemer’s Senior Leadership Team — is to call a community to faithfulness and to becoming more like Jesus. Like I preached on Sunday, spiritual leaders are like personal trainers that coach a human body into shape. They draw attention to weak muscles or imbalanced physique so that a body can produce health, strength and power. The church is a body. Redeemer is a body. And we have a few weak muscles that are severely impacting our walk and need attention. Like a personal trainer, spiritual leaders and pastors cannot ultimately do the workout on behalf of others. They can only call things as they see them and call attention to the areas that need to change.

When our relationship with money is yielded over to God the church becomes mature, healthy, vibrant, strong and spiritually powerful. Our lives become venues for the generosity of God to show up in the world. We are ready to minster to a world caught in the impoverish lie of materialism and consumerism.

“Advertising has taught us that if we see beauty we should buy it. Philosophy says that if we see beauty we should reevaluate our lives and find ways to repair the world.”

— Elaine Scarry

Not Generous? Why is this?

So why are things the way they are?

Here are some thoughts:

  • Cultural/generational reasons: global cultural trends suggest that people today are more individualistic and less likely to be committed, give money or pay for things than previous generations. As a young church perhaps this spirit has taken root in our community.

  • Distrust in churches/leaders: This can be understandable as people wrestle with past experiences of greed, poor stewardship or worse in trusted leaders. Leaders must build trust for sure and we need to work to uproot the poison that distrust from previous experiences can have.

  • A failure on the part of the Senior Leadership Team: as the spiritual leaders/gatekeepers in the community we are tasked with calling people’s attention to maturity and discipleship particularly when it comes to the relationship with money/time/commitment. We are reflecting on ways we can do this better.

  • A misunderstanding of our ‘no tithing’ teaching: in teaching ‘no tithing’ have we missed teaching the principal of Kingdom Generosity that supersedes tithing.

  • Deeper spiritual concerns: No traction with our leadership/general spiritual apathy/lukewarmness/disobedience. Sobering.

Good things to celebrate

There is one more reason to add to the mix. In these days there are a small number of us who are pressing in on the more of God. We are not content and we want more. More of his presence. More of his Kingdom power breaking in. More salvations. More healing. More prisoners set free. More strongholds broken. More relationships restored. More grace abounding. More love winning. More.

And when that happens the enemy pushes back.

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. —Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

In these days we have:

  • Opened a Prayer Room in 101 with the desire to become a house of prayer and a people of His presence. The prayer room was filled constantly during Holy Week with people seeking God and praying for our church, for Ireland and for our world.

  • We have experienced increase in the presence of God in our Pre-Gathering Prayer Times on Sundays. Join us from 10-11am in the Prayer Room.

  • We have restarted our monthly worship and prayer nights with a desire to make space to encounter the presence of God and welcome the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

  • We have employed new staff in faith that our community would be served better, most particularly our families and kids.

  • We have restarted Family Matinee as a primary vehicle we believe God has given us to serve families in our city, particularly refugees and asylum seekers.

  • We have positioned our Farmbox ministry to grow in scale by partnering with our friends at Origin Community Farm, purchasing a poly-tunnel and growing our own fresh fruit and vegetables. There are more families that need help with fresh food and our hope is that we can steward well and see God increase our capacity to help these families.

  • We have seen our location-based Tables established this year to help us practice the way of Jesus together in community.

  • We have seen a couple of our interest-based Tables begin to explore their particular mission — New Belfast have launched an event called ‘Lesser Heard’ that facilities conversation around difficult topics like mental health and sectarianism. Our Creative Table helped with our ‘Stations of the Cross’ art installation during Holy Week and have some plans for an exhibition later in the year that explores the themes of difference and diversity.

  • We continue to build key relationships with leaders, churches and peacemakers in our City including our on-going relationship with the family of churches in the Tobar Network.

  • The countless other ways our community practices the way of Jesus every week - prayers prayed, blessings spoken, encouragements spoken, sermons preached, meals shared, sick ministered to, people counselled and Jesus worshipped.

God is at work. Jesus is desiring to take his place as King. The Spirit is moving. We need to position ourselves for what he wants of us. As Senior Leaders we remain completely sold on the beautiful vision of the Kingdom of God and the project that he has give us as Redeemer Central to play our part in Belfast and be a place of welcome, presence, and healing to a broken city.

What now?

Things need to change with our finances. Currently we are spending more money that we have coming in. If nothing changes we will have some difficult decisions to make in the coming months. But the reality is that we have much room for growth and that is a good thing. We can take back ground that has been stolen. We can step into God’s promises and hopes and we can shatter the lies and the bottlenecks that limit our generosity.

As Senior Leaders we are committing to 6 weeks of prayer and fasting. We cannot do this alone and so we ask that you join us:

  • We are praying our monthly giving increases.

  • We are praying more people make commit to regular monthly giving

  • That the 34% doubles to become 68% or more.

  • We are fasting every Monday. Please join us.

  • We are opening the Prayer Room at 101 on a regular on-going basis (Tue, Wed, Thur 10am-4pm, Sun 9-10am). Book in here.

  • As Senior Leaders we have take the decision to change our collective approach by committing to give 10% of the whole Redeemer yearly budget directly to a Justice Fund. This will fund all our ‘garden’ projects that serve our city like Farmbox and Family Matinee. Previously these had been largely funded by grants and we feel that we need to own these as a community with the expectation that God might do incredible things when we give it over to Him.

  • We are holding a Gift Day for Farmbox this Sunday (12 May 2019) to give to the ministry of Farmbox. Last time we did this we raised £3000. Please come prepared to give cash and pledge IOUs as we share the vision of Farmbox and the stories of people God has entrusted us to help.

  • We are also committing to give 10% of the Justice Fund directly to outside work that we want to support — no strings attached. We have began to take steps to give monthly to supporting St. Patricks Soup Kitchen on Donegall Street. We hope to expand this to other organisations in the City.

  • We are individually prayerfully considering how much we each give to Redeemer and what God might have us give. We want to lead by example and for this to be sacrificial and faith filled.

  • We graciously encourage those we serve and lead to consider giving regularly.

  • That we can be in a position as a church to truly bless our city, extravagantly, and give to those in need.


If you would like to start giving or adjust your giving click the button below: If you are a UK Tax Payer please complete a Gift Aid form and return to the Redeemer Office.

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Consider your giving...

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Book a slot in the prayer room…


I trust that as we do this we will see a move of God’s spirit in our community like nothing we have seen before.

Grace & Peace… For his Kingdom,

David A

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What's next?

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What's next?

Thank you 

We want to communicate with you the plan for the next season of Tables so that during the month of February we can prepare, dream and pray together, but before we do that, I want to say, thank-you. 

Thank you for opening up your homes and being willing to lead our community as we gather and practice walking in the way of Jesus. It has been great to hear some of the stories that have emerged from your tables. One of the most encouraging and prominent pieces of feedback that we have received has been the natural building of community. 

Vision 2019: The next 10 

During our Learning day, we acknowledged that we are turning ten years old and David Armstrong shared some exciting potential opportunities while unpacking Redeemer’s vision and direction for the next ten. For those of you who missed out you can watch this video to catch up on this video with David sharing the vision.

The Senior Leaders have recognised that God has been calling us to establish a house of prayer. It is no coincidence that we have increased our 101 prayer and worship night to a regular monthly gathering. If you were able to attend on the 30th January, the Spirit of God was moving in the room resulting in prophetic words being spoken that encouraged and edified our community.

What does this mean for Table leaders? 

The goal is to launch a dedicated prayer room in the run-up to Easter. With this in mind, we wanted to take the opportunity to gather around tables and explore prayer with our community. The book that we have chosen for our collective reading is ‘Dirty Glory’ by Pete Greig, the founder of the 24-7 prayer movement. It is our hope and prayer that this account of the first 5 years of establishing the 24-7 prayer movement would excite, build faith and increase expectancy as we too launch our prayer room in Donegall Street. 

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You may already have this book on your self, but if you don’t you can always grab a copy here:

Looking ahead to Tables recommencing in March we would ask you that you get to grips with the book, ingest it, let it influence and shape your prayers for the next season of tables there are even some helpful questions at the back of the book to help initiate discussion.

101 Prayer & Worship Nights

I want to highlight the 101 prayer and worship nights. These are important nights for the life of our church and we would ask that you add them to your monthly rhythm. Your regular table gathering should meet the week before and after the dates (below) - for those who meet on nights other than Wednesdays, please adjust according.

We have already seen the beauty that comes when we corporately pray, worship and wait on God. Please promote the 101 prayer and worship nights in your communications to your Table.

Prayer nights will be held on the 3rd Wednesday night of the month. The dates are as follows: -

  • 20th February

  • 20th March

  • 17th April

  • 15th May

  • 19th June


We are excited to see God speak, stir hearts and release dreams in, and for our community, as we collectively seek His face

Looking forward with much anticipation,

Matt

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Vision 2019 (Video)

Vision 2019 (Video)

At our recent Learning Day on Saturday 2nd February we shared this vision. For those Wider Leaders who couldn’t make it we wanted to bring you up to speed so we created this video. We trust it will help bring you on board into all we are sensing God has for us this year as a community.

Table Leaders Guide

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Table Leaders Guide

Table Leaders… this post is for you! Please do take the time to read this post through. With Tables launching this month we want to walk you through some essentials that will help you. We’ll explain how they’ll be organised practically and answer questions some of you have been asking.

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A Year of Focus

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A Year of Focus

The Senior Leaders and I have been giving thought to our priorities this year in Redeemer. As we have done this we’ve realised that there is just so much we could give ourselves to and there is simply not the time or resources to do it all. This reminded me of something I’ve been learning over the past few years.

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Wider Leaders Rhythms 2018-19

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Wider Leaders Rhythms 2018-19

Over summer myself and the other Senior Leaders have been giving thought to how we might better invest in you all — our wider leaders — and improve the flow of communication and the exchange of stories, resources and ideas so that we might learn and grow together. There are 3 ways we are going to do this in the upcoming year.

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Tables: An Overview

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Tables: An Overview

Goodbye CityGroups. Hello Tables

As you know Tables are launching this month and I wanted to give you all a brief overview of what they are and provide some context for why we’re moving from CityGroups to Tables. Even if you are not a Table Leader I’d recommend you read on.

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Welcome to the blog

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Welcome to the blog

Over summer myself and the other Senior Leaders have been giving thought to how we might better invest in you all as wider leaders so we’re looking to improve the flow of communication and the exchange of stories, resources and ideas so that we might learn and grow together.

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