Summary: The first of 3 sermons that formed our Stewardship (Giving) Campaign for 2015, this sermon starts by celebrating the huge amounts of God-inspired generosity that are already going on in our church.

So - I have two sermons here, and i wonder which one you would like me to preach? Here I have a really creative one (hold it up) - I promise you none of you will ever have heard a sermon on giving like this. The other one (hold it up) it is a bit more boring and ordinary.

Which would you like?

You are not sure?

Let me unpack them

My less exciting sermon - we start with celebration. There is an amazing amount of generosity going on in St Barnabas. It’s not like we are starting from scratch because actually people do give really well. So this sermon {hold it up} is all about starting where we are and celebrating the giving that is already going on.

In my really brilliant creative sermon - this sermon is absolutely guaranteed to lead to a spectacular increase in our giving as a church. what we do is the churchwardens rush out, spend what little money we have left as a church on AK47s - then we lock the doors, and we don’t let anyone else out until you have transferred over the deeds to your house and the entire contents of your bank account to st Barnabas.

So which one would you like? The trad one or the creative ? What really ? OK

As I said, I have spent my first 6 months discovering the wonderful things of generosity already going on here. Take the Fun Day last week. The cost of closing the road was £325 . of that £140 was already paid before the day started - not because one person wrote an enormous cheque but because a significant number of people very kindly contributed. Then there was the day itself. The day wasn’t a fund raising day. It was about building relationships with the local community. Yet surprisingly it ran a huge surplus, £829, enough to cover the entire costs of next years day. How was that money raised? Well a lot it was because so many of you donated things. Take for example - the Tombola - that not only provided a lot of fun, it also raised a lot of money. If we had had to go to Tescos and buy the bottle of wine, it would not have raised so much. But so many of you donated. Again, it wasn’t one person donating 100 bottles. Rather, it was lots of you donating a bottle here, a bottle there. Then there were so many people donating their time making the day work. I could go on.

What I would like you do is get into groups of 4 or 5 and share examples of where you have experienced generosity in this community. If you are an introvert and don’t like talking - make sure you join a big enough group so that the other people can do the talking and you can just listen. It may be examples of people being generous to the church. It may be examples of people being generous to individuals within this church. It may be examples of people who have been generous or kind to you. You don’t have to mention them by name - just share (if you are ok doing so) about the act of generosity

[take feedback]

Thank you so much. those of you who preferred to listen - what you will notice is that there are no machine guns pointing at you.

At the end of this sermon, for those of you who are happy to do it, I am going to ask you to do something. Now obviously I am hoping quite a few people will do it, but if you prefer not, there’s no machine guns pointed at you. Every bit of this Stewardship campaign you sign up to as much as you are happy to and no more.

Actually what I am going to ask you to do is two fold. This sermon is about celebrating the generosity that is already going on in St Barnabas. The second sermon on Sunday 31st May will be about God’s giving of himself. I’d like you to pick from the list of choices what you would like the third sermon on Sunday 21st June to be on, so I can speak on what you would find helpful.

The second thing I would like you to do is enter your “safe amount”. This is a generous parish. Compared with the church of England, people in this parish give significantly more than the national average. And I know that at the end of this giving campaign many of you will increase your giving, and some of you will increase your giving very significantly.

Before you can do that, you will need to look at your bank statement and check how much money you have got. You may need to talk to husband or wife to check you are both singing from the same hymn sheet. You may want to pray about. So at the end of this sermon you are NOT going to be able to come up with the final amount that you can increase your giving by.

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