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Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Living Generously Adviser

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Steve Johnson

Living Generously Adviser

steve.johnson@derby.anglican.org | 01332 278151


Living Generously can present us with a challenge, especially when we feel we have limited resources.

But we are disciples of a generous God, who gives unconditionally and who reassures us that ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35).

Knowing how to give can also be puzzling and sometimes we need someone to walk along with us as we discover how to enable generosity in ourselves, our congregations, and our communities.

As the Living Generously Adviser, I am here to support everyone in exploring generosity, whether priest, parishioner, or PCC.

Beginning a journey of generous discovery requires us to be equipped with all those tools which assist us in unlocking new ways of enabling generosity, or that give us fresh perspectives in nurturing existing areas, allowing generosity to flourish.

A busy world can be distracting, asking more of us than we know how to deal with, and so understanding the needs of our churches and our communities can be perplexing.

Communicating the impact generosity has, both inside and outside of our congregations makes a huge difference in the trust we build up, and the ability to transform lives through giving.

Inspiring generosity beyond our churches, reaching out to disciple others, creating and nurturing a generous culture by embedding that which God provides without condition: generosity with time, attention, wealth, talents, possessions, reputation and comfort.

Putting into action all of those mechanisms which increase the profile of generosity and raise it to be higher on our priorities.

With resources to enable all these things, the Living Generously Adviser will support you in enabling and sustaining a generous culture in your church, whether it be through Generosity Away-Days, running a generosity campaign, advising on giving mechanisms or contactless donation devices, Parish Giving Scheme, legacy giving, or any other aspect of generosity, we’re here to help.

Thank you for all you do for your church.

Steve Johnson, Living Generously Adviser for the Diocese of Derby, writes:

Generosity is one of those words that immediately makes you think – how much?

And which, understandably, links our minds with money.

So, whilst enduring a financial cost of living crisis, there may well be the perception that generosity features less highly on our priorities.

The truth is that generosity is more than money, and is something which everybody benefits from, which we all have in abundance, and which we can nurture into life-transforming opportunities.

A call to embrace generosity is found in 2 Corinthians 9 verse 6 : ‘The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully’.

…and in Acts, Paul quotes Jesus directly in addressing the Ephesian Elders: the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” …where there is no mention of money at all.

Mother Maria Skobtsova, a nun during World War II, said: ‘According to the laws of matter, if I give away an amount of money, my funds are reduced by that amount.

"By the same laws, if I give my love, I am impoverished by that amount of love. However, the laws of a spiritual life are the exact opposite of the laws of the material world.

"According to spiritual law, every spiritual treasure given away not only returns to the giver…but it grows and becomes more valuable."

>> Resources for parishes

>> Generosity Week Podcasts

If Mother Maria’s observation recognises how we give of ourselves, then Archbishop Justin Welby in his 2017 Lent book Dethroning Mammon challenges us to decide of what measure of ourselves we are using in assessing our wealth.

There is wealth by which the material world can measure us, and then there is wealth by which we can measure ourselves.

Generosity calls us to reflect upon our own precious resources: our time, attention, talents, possessions, comfort, reputation, as well as our finances.

Therefore, raising the profile of generosity within our parishes will not only make evident the need for generosity in our communities, but will enable us to demonstrate the impact of peoples giving of their resources.

However, creating a generous culture can’t be achieved through a mandate – it lives in the collective hearts and habits of a church and the shared idea of how things are done in that context.

Being a Derbyshire lad born and bred, I know that context is everything, and understanding to encourage generosity requires local knowledge, together with the ability to recognise how to create opportunities for generosity in all its’ forms.

The Diocese of Derby is wonderfully diverse in our parishes and churches; each one having within its’ people those who give generously of all their resources, and to flourish generosity needs an environment which returns that giving in abundance. Living in a busy world which makes infinite demands on us, we sometimes need some help with this.

As we head towards autumn, back to work, a new school term, and the busy-ness of life, enabling generosity may not seem easy in this environment.

We may feel that we need someone to come alongside us; to make us feel reassured in placing our own precious resources.

As the Living Generously Advisor, I have helped countless parishes begin this journey of generosity.

Because we have a generous God, who has equipped us much more than the material world ever could.

This is reflected in our Vision Prayer:

Gracious God,
in your mercy, and for your glory,
renew us, reshape us, revive us -
with generous faith, courageous hope, and life-giving love -
that, in transformed lives,
through growing church and building community,
we may see your Kingdom come,
and be good news for all.
Amen.

As we begin Generosity Week 2023 on 24 September, perhaps take the opportunity to reflect upon how enabling generosity in your parish could transform the lives of those within your community.

If you would like to explore generosity and ways in which we can nurture the various aspects of living a generous life within your parishes, please get in touch.

Giving and Generosity is at the core of our faith.

We believe in a generous God, a God who gave up everything for us and gave us everything we could ever need.

God calls us to be generous in response to this generosity and to share it with others.

We should not see the money we have (either personally or as a church) as ours, but rather as God’s and we are called to receive these gifts and to sensibly manage them.

 

We have three sections that will help you and your church to grow and encourage giving and generosity so that you can become increasingly sustainable.

Generosity Week 2023 - Resources for churches planning their Generosity Week.

Generosity Week 2023 Newsletter [PDF]

Enabling Giving – these pages explore how to encourage people to give through practical applications, under the MINT acronym.

Encouraging Generosity – these pages suggests ways of developing a culture of generosity that will lead to greater giving (IDEA acronym).

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