Thursday, 5 November 2009

Titus Wordled

Wordle: Paul's Letter to Titus
We're in the middle of a short sermon series on the Letter of Paul to Titus. This is how Wordle renders the complete text (the more frequently a word appears, the larger it appears). Click on the image for a large picture.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

District Church Council Meeting - November 2009

Last night's DCC was very positive with lots of animated conversation, commitment and prayer. Among other topics, we:
  • Heard a presentation from John Fryer, Children's Work Adviser for the Diocese of Leicester. John spoke in relation to our exploration Where are the Children? He commended the DCC's honesty and commitment to responding to a challenging and changing situation. He confirmed that the issues are widespread and many churches are in a similar position to ourselves. We had an open conversation about finding new ways to engage with children, both in church and in the wider community.
  • Decided to continue inviting an offering, rather than taking a collection.
  • Set a balanced budget for 2010.
  • Confirmed rates for letting our buildings for 2010.
  • Decided to offer the books from the old church library, which have been in storage for several years, to the congregation.

Bringing our offering, not taking a collection

A new way of giving
At its November meeting yesterday, St Paul's District Church Council decided to continue receiving the gifts of church members on an open plate, rather than by passing collection bags as we used to do. The DCC decided that we should do this at least until Easter 2010, and that we should make the offering plate more obvious and easy to find.

St Paul's has traditionally passed collection bags along the rows of worshippers during the service. With the introduction of swine 'flu precations we left an open plate for donations instead.

Our members give over £1000 each week to support the work of our church and the mission projects we resource. That represents a wonderful generosity and we are very grateful. We ask people to think about the gift they make rather than to find notes and coins as the collection bags approach. The 'stewardship' planned giving scheme is a great way to encourage this. People who give by cash or cheque place their gift in an envelope and place them in the offering. Of course, many people give by standing order, which is an excellent way of giving reliably and realistically. The opportunity to give by standing order will remain. To join the stewardship scheme, please see David Foulds.

What does the Bible say about the way Christians should give?
In the Bible, money was brought to the Temple treasury. Jesus condemned the abuses of the moneychangers, who received the people's gifts in ways that cheated them. In Mark 12.41-44 we read how he watched the wealthy bringing in substantial gifts to the treasury but he commended the giving of the widow who gave all that she had, even two small coins.

In Matthew 6.1-4, Jesus warns against giving as a way of showing off. "Whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet... so that you may be praised. ...But give in secret... and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Our hopes
We hope that inviting giving without passing bags along the rows of worshippers will remove some of the awkwardness, especially for visitors. We hope it will counter the idea of taking a collection (which to outsiders, can sometimes looks like a "whip-round for cash"!) Instead, in inviting an offering given generously from "first fruits" rather than spare change, brought before God in prayer and worship, without awkwardness or embarrassment, we hope it will glorify God and serve his church.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Hiring our rooms

I am approached several times a week by people who wish to hire our rooms. We have a policy to use our buildings to serve the local community, both as an expression of our commitment to our neighbourhood and as a way of raising funds to support our Christian ministry in Oadby. We're thrilled that this has been an area of enormous growth in recent years.

The main church and the Barnabas Centre are available for hire for community groups and courses but not for private parties or social functions. We take particular care to work in partnership with groups and welcome members of other faith communities. But we also ensure that activities are not incompatible with the prime reason for our work - worshipping God in the Christian faith.

The charges for 2010 are £17 per hour for the Barnabas Centre and £17 per hour for the church.

To book the church or Barnabas Centre, contact Cynthia on the new bookings line - 07931 726661, or by email.