Friday, 10 July 2009

TOAM: Offering Night Pep Talk: Stu Gibbs

Confession time: I normally hate pre-offering pep talks. Ever since ones I heard at Hillsongs in Newcastle and Revival Fires in Dudley which were essentially a cross between poorly thought out life coaching and the prosperity gospel. Add in memories of the Good News Crusade camp in Malvern where they actually had a second offering if they did not raise enough money at the first, and well, frankly, I hate them.

So fair play Stu Gibbs: that was excellent. Not only excellent as an engaging, practical, grace filled, fun, challenging, brief talk about giving but excellent because now I can't hate pre-offering talks as much because I know what a good one sounds like and I can no longer think the concept is an automatic trainwreck. I still have reservations about the timing, but that is not in Stu's hands.

Stu used Luke 12: 32-35 and made the following points.

v 32 NO FEAR
  • Anxiety robs faith in the act of giving
  • With wonderful tenderness this passage shows us we do not need to be anxious because God is giving us the kingdom
  • God has raised us up to show his kindness and his grace (Eph 2). There is not place for anxiety, we can be at peace.
  • Jesus probably means we should consider selling our stuff and giving the money to the poor!
  • What would it look like if our Church culture did resonate with this?
  • 2 Corinthians 9 sets out a heart attitude and we see Jesus make himself poor that we may become rich: does that sound familiar?
  • Jesus wants a Church free of consumerism, without fear, without compromise.
  • What could you sell to give to the poor?
  • Or, put another way: where your money goes, there your heart will go also
  • Sometimes we need to send the money and let our heart follow!
  • Sometimes we follow our money int he call on our life to Church planting or mission or ministry to the poor because once we give to something we have invested something of ourselves in it
I then had a very interesting experience. I thought about my love of football, and my season ticket for Shrewsbury Town. I tested my heart on it: do I spend too much watching football? I did the maths. Every month Esther and I give to the Church, and to agencies serving the poor, the persecuted Church, and the translation of bibles, in total, excluding one off gifts, twenty times more than my season ticket costs me. That is, for every one game I watch we have invested 20 times in the kingdom. I don't say that to boast, I say that because I tested my own conscience because of the challenge Stu gave.

I am glad God had prepared my heart in advance because I think I could have been really quite hurt by what happened next.

Within ten minutes someone I know walked past me as we were singing and said "so are you going to sell your season ticket and give the money"?

Old Dave may have replied "Are you going to sell your house?"

Why is my football always the cheap shot? I don't see why my enjoyment and where I meet people who don't know Jesus should be singled out.

God had graciously allowed me to test my conscience and I had been surprised and humbled at how positively I could respond: twenty times for the kingdom, how exciting!

I don't want to have fear Lord, I don't want to compromise, I want my treasure to be in your purposes Lord, and thanks Lord for covering my back when someone had a needless dig at me in an attempt at humour.

No comments: