Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Money - the heart of the matter

Basically, money is a heart issue. Some, when thinking about giving, know that the money is there, it’s just that it’s prioritised in different areas. What’s needed is a realigning of priorities and to put God first, saying, ‘I am a disciple of Jesus before anything else.’ Some are already there in their thinking but money is tight or perhaps they are a single parent or in a similarly demanding situation. I would encourage a first step in giving, however small – that is grace – and ask God. He will speak to us about what to do.

All we have belongs to the Lord Jesus. We came into the world as a baby with nothing and we will leave with nothing. At one time we were spiritually dead but now we are alive in Christ. We are honest enough to know that our money and what we do with it reveals our heart but if we want to be disciples of Jesus Christ, if we believe that it is best for us to build our lives on the Word of God and on Jesus the Rock himself, we will come and ask God to help us make choices to follow through to build generous giving into our lives!

God is able to bless each of us and to bless our churches with huge financial strength as we look at taking on each massive adventure in faith together. We ask that He will do it so that many will come to Christ and that many who are now poor will become rich because the One who was rich became poor for our sakes. What we have experienced in forgiveness, healing and hope can be passed onto thousands of people through our churches.
Content taken from a King's Stewardship seminar

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Stepping up in giving....

The UK government gives us 25p for every £1 that a signed-up taxpayer gives to King’s. That’s a lot of money – for every £100,000 given, that’s another £25,000! Think how far that can go in Kingdom work...At King’s we provide an information sheet that gives all the details anyone will need to enable them to give and put it into place on a regular basis. This includes details of how to Gift Aid giving.

I have also taught that in the life of the church moments will come when we go for a building project and then our giving needs to change! For a certain period of time, we give 10%, then another 10% and live off 80% of our income. In this our leaders lead from the front – we do not ask the church to do anything that we aren’t doing ourselves. This is not without some choices and some prioritising – and for me it has involved re-working my whole financial life-plan. Many of you will have one of those in one form or another – mine is a spreadsheet that covers 25 years! This is because I realise that the decisions I make now will impact the future and influence what I have available when I am 70 years old.

Some people are worried about what’s happening next week, let alone in 25 years’ time but we know we do need to think further ahead, both individually – and as a church. Others think, ‘I can’t argue with the Biblical principles of giving’ but the key thing is the next step. People may be convinced by them, may agree with the need for grace-filled giving, but feel it is a high bar and so just throw in the towel at that point and give up thinking about it at all. I would encourage a first step, to put God first and say, ‘I’m going to give regularly and systematically. I’m going to Gift Aid what I’m committed to giving so that King’s gets the tax too. I’m going to make that next step.’

Content taken from a King's Stewardship seminar 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Looking after responders

The next thing we would do is to invite those who are responding to first of all raise their hand and then to come forward. Then I would say ‘We’re going to sing the song through once more and if there is anyone else that would like to respond, would you come forward and join those already at the front.’

At that point we’ve got a ‘follow up’ team in place. This would primarily be our Alpha team who are used to leading people to Christ. They come forward and talk with those who have responded - we generally take the responders out of the meeting because we find it is difficult to talk to them properly once the post-meeting hubbub begins. Ideally we have a room set aside where people can talk quietly and be prayed for. Your facility and the rooms available will shape how you do that, as will the numbers involved.

I’ve also seen Lex do the following, and I’ve done this once or twice - when people have come forward he will keep them at the front of the auditorium for a few minutes and he will invite yet more people to respond. He goes again - it’s fantastic. What I love about it is that he is very personal, very pastoral. He looks at each person and gets the church to clap them as they come forward; he speaks to them as if no one else is there. Then he often leads them all in a prayer, he’s very warm and he says ‘Is there anyone else that would like to come and join these people?’ and do you know what, nearly every time he does that there are others that come to faith because they come forward as well and everyone claps again!

It’s amazing to see that gift of the evangelist operate - when Lex first came to King’s we saw a lot of response from people. The second time he came we saw a good number respond but I believe that one of the reasons we didn’t see so many is because in the meantime he had equipped us at King’s to do this ourselves. We had learned from him and grew in confidence and experience. It will be the same for you!

to be continued...

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The pressure of waiting...

Lex Loizides has shown us a way to do gospel appeals at the end of a meeting and I stick to his model most of the time. After the preaching we sing a song and we have often used the song he uses “Lord I come to You…” Then while people are still standing we ask for those who want to respond to raise their hand.

At this point I am praying, ‘Lord please be with me,’ because I feel under pressure - wanting people to respond. I will then probably say something encouraging like ‘That’s fantastic’, and I’d count them as they put their hands up. ‘That’s one. Thank you. Two...’ Sometimes it’s great and there are four, five… seven. I tell them that God’s here - at that point expressing the love, mercy and compassion of God is important.

We sing the song through once, the band might just carry on playing and I would come back in and say ‘I’m now going to give an opportunity for anyone here to respond to Jesus… ‘. I find it emotionally demanding to do this. I can do all the other stuff in church leadership, lead the meeting, handle the occasional dodgy prophecy and things like that - but there’s a spiritual battle when you stand up and invite a response to the gospel. You have to stand there and you have to make that appeal to people. I’ve found that at times I’ve had to make myself stay there!

We must remember the battle going on in your own heart, and a huge battle going on in the hearts and minds of those who are thinking about responding. I remember the day I got saved, I spent about 20 minutes having a discussion with myself and God whether I was going to count the cost of doing this and make my response. Do you remember that moment? We don’t doubt the battle for souls.

I’ve watched evangelists. They dwell in the moment. They don’t lose courage. They press on. I’m a pastor at heart - I’m concerned that there isn’t some manipulation and emotional pressure here. You know that can happen. Have you ever been in meetings like that? Evangelists don’t seem to worry about it; they’re interested in the lost and their eternal destinies at that moment. I’ve seen Lex wait for a long time and then watched as someone in the church I know responds, their parents weeping in their places - all because he waited. So wait. It’s a faith moment.