St John the Baptist District Church Council - Extra Meeting to decide on Mission Policy
and Mission Giving on Monday 9th July 2012 in the Upper Room
Purpose of the meeting: To decide a) the St John’s Church mission giving policy and b) the percentage to give away to mission and charitable giving. This is in response to the request from the PCC for all five DCCS to report back on the same to the September PCC meeting.
The discussion: The meeting worked it way through the Report of the Mission Policy Subcommittee commenting as it progressed. Paragraph and page numbers that follow refer to this fourteen page report. (This is available on the Parish website, under the mission tab.)
Page 1: The crisis that provoked the report, of greatly reduced mission giving, was noted to be very real for St John’s
Page2: It was agreed that the expectation of the Church giving 10% outside the parish dated back to the 1960s and had been reaffirmed in extensive discussion in 1997.
Pages 4 & 5: It was agreed that the five marks of mission were a useful way of thinking about mission and a sermon series on them could be recalled. The placing of church activities in the two coloured rings (inner blue for within the parish and outer red for outside the parish) were agreed to be valid with suggestions for more additions e.g. Tower tours. There were some who felt that all church life was mission in some way or another, and others who felt that this dumbed down the distinctiveness of mission.
Pages 6 & 7: Discussing the Biblical basis of tithing provoked a significant discussion during which two key points were made.
- The first was that any hard and fast rule about tithing percentages, failed to take into account people’s circumstances which didn’t simply differ as the years rolled by, but also from person to person (e.g. income and one member of a marriage not being a church-goer). The principle of PROPORTIONALITY was expounded as: giving proportional to income.
- The second point was that Christians are called to sacrificial giving and to give of their income not after everything else (and give to God only from the leftovers), but to give ‘First to the Lord.’ It was pointed out that if we honour God, he will honour us, and a sign of this honouring of God is what we do with our money. Tithing 10% therefore is a useful benchmark to stick to. This is the principle of SACRIFICIAL GIVING.
- A further question was raised as to the connection between the giving of an individual and an organisation such as St John’s Church. It was noted there is no Biblical basis for a church tithing. Should a Church follow the principles for an individual? However it was pointed out that a Church tithing to outside giving set a good example for individuals.
- Also it was noted that if the average giving of a St John’s planned giver is £542, then this is 10% of an income of £5,500, which is probably an underestimate of income. In reply it was pointed out that people may well tithe and only give some of their tithe to St John’s.
- An individual spoke of tithing windfalls as well as regular income.
- Perhaps rather than adhering to a principle it was suggested a prayerful relationship with God was a better guide.
Page 9: The hidden mission giving table was noted as being illustrative of the mission giving to activities both within the parish and beyond. The figure of £53,494 of the Parish Share being for Mission was disputed, but it was noted that even if that was reduced by half, that still left £40,000 of hidden mission giving – a total of 11% of total income in 2010.
The discussion ranged over other issues before coming to a final resolution:
- The useful ness of personal links in mission giving, with the supporting of people rather than projects overseas.
- Whether to support the relief of physical distress and material want overseas, and the spreading of the Christian message in the UK as priorities. These seem to be the pressing priorities, however traditionally there has been the focus on mission giving to the spreading of the gospel overseas.
- How the rich west, we are very rich in comparison with the developing world, must aid the poor. This is Mark 3 of the Marks of Mission.
- How it would be out of keeping with other churches and our past if we didn’t give to support overseas work on a long-term basis.
- How all ten segments of the Marks of Mission diagrams should be represented in our thinking and giving.
Page 11: In arriving at the proposal it was noted:
- That mission giving from Mission Gift Sunday would continue again this year. Last year despite having no mission giving from the St John’s DCC budget, St John’s church gave £2,250 (nearly 1%) to work outside the parish from Mission Gift Sunday and special appeals. In addition there was Christian Aid week, and the giving to the Children’s Society in December.
- It was also pointed out that if all St John’s surplus was given away then no reserves could be built up (there are none at present) and other things such as the staff having a first salary increase for some years would also suffer. (NB Our youth worker Dan Crouch’s hours were cut in 2011 by one day. Should the Parish staff be the ones who suffer for our mission giving? )
- Given that the St John’s budget this year will just break even, no mission giving was imagined in 2012.
The Resolution agreed at the end of the meeting:
- St John’s DCC adheres to the twin principles for individuals and for the Church of St John of firstly proportionate committed giving and secondly sacrificial giving of ‘First to the Lord’
- For the next two years of 2013 and 2014 to give 50% of any of the St John’s Church financial surplus for the year away to mission giving outside the parish
- To aspire to giving 5% of income away to mission giving outside the parish in keeping with the principles of tithing (5% is acknowledged to be going to mission giving within the parish)
- All St John’s mission giving to be routed via the PCC Mission Committee
For 9; Against 5; Abstentions 1