Giving is...all about worship

1Chronicles 29:1-20

Over the coming three weeks we’re going to be thinking about giving and its role in the life of Christian discipleship.
It’s a subject that pops up every other year or so, and it’s tempting to roll our eyes, switch off, and look forward to whatever series is coming next.  But we touch on this subject regularly because it’s important. 
We preach on this not so much for purposes of fund raising, but for the purpose of faith raising.  Someone once said ‘if you want to gauge the level of faith in a church then look at the level of giving’ – and they were right. 
Our giving is often one of the best barometers as to the vitality and depth of our faith.  How and what we give sheds light on the state of our walk with God and our commitment to him, each other, and the mission of God. 
I appreciate that for many speaking about money in particular is a difficult and perhaps embarrassing thing to do.  We’re steeped in all sorts of cultural norms and expectations with regard this topic of conversation.  Despite this, we’d like you to take some time as a housegroup to think, reflect, pray, and honestly discuss this topic in relation to the life of Christian discipleship.
The scriptures are clear that giving is an indispensible act of worship, an obligation to the Christian community, and a means of acknowledging where ultimate ownership of all things lies.  Likewise the scriptures are clear that some will be able to give a lot, others less, and some very little, but that the call on all, regardless as to means, is to give from what we are blessed with for the glory of God and the work of his kingdom.
We’re convinced that giving is an important part of worship and whole life discipleship, and that not only do we give as a response of faith, but also that as we give faith is deepened and enriched. 
Some practicalities:
On Sunday the 13th we’re going to be giving out two booklets. 
A booklet that’s focused on giving to the general fund of the church
The general fund supports the ongoing and day to day mission and ministry of this church.  This fund covers all the costs associated with running our church, our buildings, salaries, parish share, ministry budgets, and mission giving.
This booklet also includes some outline information as to where our ministry budget comes from and how it is spent.  We hope this information will be helpful. 
We’re asking each of our regular and committed congregation members to respond in different ways depending on personal situation.
If you’re a regular worshipper at one of our congregations and you don’t currently give to the mission and ministry of this church – then we are asking you to start doing so.  Consecrate yourself, set yourself apart, associate yourself with the Holy God, by my making your whole life, including your financial affairs, part of your worship.
If you currently give but on a very ad-hoc basis, then we are asking you to think carefully about establishing a pattern of worship by giving and commit to it as a habit and in a planned and structured way. 
If giving currently forms part of your whole life worship of God then we are asking you to review things.  It’s important to say that I’m not just asking you to increase if you’re able, I’m also saying that if circumstances are more difficult for you, it’s OK to review things down if you need to.  There is no shame in that.  
The other booklet is focused on giving to the Dell Project.
Were nearly half way towards our £2million target to build a new centre at St Giles’ Church.  We’re convinced that this new facility will enable us to develop our outreach and mission to the local community and also provide more space for our growing work with children and young people.  This new facility will resource our ministry now and also the ministry of generations to come.
We are asking each and every congregation member to respond by prayerfully reflecting on what they might give towards this new facility. 
Many people have already given generously to the project and for their sacrificial giving we are deeply grateful.
We are certain that the vast majority of the build cost will come from congregation members who grasp the vision for the project and will commit to making it happen.  If each regular adult congregation member were able to give £1000 towards this project we’d be able to start building immediately.
Responding to the Call….
On Sunday 20th July we’re asking congregation members to respond.
Each booklet has a response form in it and we are asking that the forms be returned on Sunday 20th July.  Forms can be posted in the red post boxes set up inside St Giles’ and St George’s Church. 
Why are we setting aside a particular day of response?  Because as a church we want to celebrate giving as an act of faith and worship.  To come together and as people consecrated by the blood of Jesus, set ourselves apart in working towards the mission of God in every aspect of our lives. 
We want to together acknowledge that everything that we have is Gods anyway, he is the source of all and the giver of all, and that even as we give generously we are only giving to God what is already his.  Ultimately it seems we don’t give for Gods sake, but for our own good.
Some questions to get things started…
Read 1Chronicles 29:1-20
What initially strikes you about the passage that you have read?
What surprises you in the passage that you have read?
How is the giving of David, the leaders and the people presented?
In what ways might we say giving is an act of worship?
What role does giving play in developing and deepening faith?
In particular:
1Chron 29:5:  How do you respond to verse 5?  What do you think this means in its original context but also for us today as NT Christians? 

What is consecration all about?
What does it mean when David asks the people to consecrate themselves by giving to the building of the temple?
In what ways might we say that our giving as an act of worship ‘consecrates’ us?
1 Chron 29:10-16:  How do you respond to verses 10-16 when David acknowledges the ultimate ownership of God over all things?
To what degree do we share this attitude?
In what ways do we demonstrate this attitude?
In what ways might we demonstrate this attitude more fully in daily life?

Simon Butler, 10/07/2014