Eight generations ago our ancestors ended the slave trade, yet today the numbers associated with human trafficking are staggering.
Click here to access our special issue Share magazine on human trafficking, featuring interviews with Beth Redman, Gary Haugen and Christine Caine.
Part of the joy of my job is to spend hours (often the wee ones, just before I fall asleep) scouring the web for the latest news on giving and generosity. And when my own eyes fail, I ask my trusted colleagues to keep theirs peeled for the good stuff.
So when I received an email about a lady who was intending to sit on the toilet for charity, I mouthed ‘whaaa?’ and clicked on the link immediately. What I discovered made me laugh out loud. Not only was this slightly potty woman really going to sit on the loo to raise money for her church, she was also using Stewardship’s give.net to do it.
Rona’s Toilet Sit – raising money for a loo at St George’s Church, said her give.net page proudly.
“There,” I thought, considering the many hours we’d spent diligently and prayerfully dreaming up the future of give.net. “Our work is complete.”
I decided to give her a call.
“Some people do marathons,” she said, when I asked her about her unusual fundraising drive, “but I’m too old to run so I thought of a LOO-vely sitting down challenge.”
And so, the delightful Rona will be sitting on a disconnected toilet for two hours in the middle of her church on September 8th, to raise £2000 towards her church facilities project and, “so everyone can laugh”, she says.
“If I raise £2,000 I will be FLUSHED with success. But we need about £76k overall as we have to bring water in from the road.”
Two thousand pounds may well just be a drop in the basin, but it reminded me that sometimes we must do the extraordinary and slightly - well - weird to make a generous difference in the world. Very few of us are willing to make spectacles of ourselves for a valid cause (although our Facebook photos often give others ample reason to laugh at us), but as Christians we’re inspired to become ‘undignified’ in our worship and our lifestyle, with the sole aim of making God’s Kingdom known. Sitting on a toilet so that a church can have the facilities to accommodate lots of people? I’d say that fits the description pretty well.
Rona will be live-tweeting throughout the event, and invites people to send her a tweet (or more importantly, a donation) as an encouragement. “Clean toilet humour only, please,” she insists, with a laugh.
The generosity challenge:
Spot the amount of toilet-related puns in this month’s Extra Mile.
Make September your month to raise money for a cause you love, and let us know what you’re doing: we’d love to get in touch and perhaps even feature you in our give.net blog. Be extraordinary, extravagant and perhaps even a bit weird. Remember, you can use give.net to create and customise a fundraising page.
Not able to fundraise this time? Perhaps consider donating to Rona’s sponsored toilet sit! Or you can use give.net’s search tool to look for causes that interest you.
image Restroom Reminder courtesy of Raymond Gilford
In this edition of 3 mission minutes, I chatted to Dan Randall from Pais Project about being a twenty-something missionary, mentoring a future generation of world-changers and the 14-year old boy who set up 'Text a prayer'.
Dan – tell us what Pais Project does in 140 characters
We are a bridge between schools and churches. We invest into Youth Pastors, plus we offer a free Apprenticeship in Youth & Schools Ministry.
Tell us what YOU do in 140 characters
I lead Pais in East Lancashire, investing into the team leaders and overseeing all 4 teams. I raise vision, recruits and finances.
What’s it like to be a young missionary in the world today? Does age make a difference?
In my experience over the past 3 years, it is exciting to be a twenty-something missionary. I aspire to see my generation changed by God and be the change agents the world needs. I am starting to see a spark in pockets of the UK where young people and young adults are rising up to see their generation changed by God.
What’s your vision?
My vision is to see young people grab hold of God’s purpose for their life and live in it: to see them be the head and not the tail in society. Young people full of the Holy Spirit empowering them to see change and the Kingdom come.
It’s clear to me that when a young person grabs hold of God’s heart then a community can be changed, when a group grab hold of God’s heart then an entire town can be changed, but if a generation grabs hold of God’s heart the world can be changed.
Got an inspiring story from the Project?
Ben is a young person who is mentored by me, in many ways he is a typical British 14 year-old teenager: he loves football and is a big supporter of Liverpool FC;he plays the guitar and goes to high school. He isn’t particularly loud or extrovert but is known for being the one who welcomes people and connects with everybody in a group situation.
What makes Ben different from many of his peers is the mission heartbeat that is in him, and indeed his whole family. Ben’s dad, Tom was a Pais apprentice 12 years ago and his Aunty Hettie currently leads a team in Burnley.. Ben has always been surrounded by people who love God, want to make a difference to the people in their communities… and who know they can.
Ben isn’t a Pais apprentice himself, he’s too young! But he understands fundamentally that he can make a difference in his community, in his school and with his friends.
After attending a Pais: GB M4 weekender last year (a weekend where young people are inspired and equipped to reach their community and school) Ben was encouraged to start some initiatives in his High School. Over the past few months Ben has set up a simple but effective scheme called ‘Text a prayer’ which is as it says! Having been encouraged by this he is now currently in the process of setting up a Christian Union in his school. He may be receiving help and resources from Pais but still, it’s amazing stuff for a 14 year-old boy from the North of England.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Taking on my current role, leading the Hub. For me it has been a stretching, growing and challenging experience both in terms of dealing with other people and in my own life. The challenges have helped to shape me and empowered me to grow more as a leader. Particularly over the past 12 months when God’s faithfulness has been even more evident.
How can readers keep in touch/support you?
If you want to find out more about The Pais Project then you can go to our website – www.paisproject.com
You can also stay in touch with me personally by e-mailing me and I can send you my monthly update.As well as my monthly update you can support me by giving monthly or by a one-off donation. To get in touch my e-mail address is – firstname.lastname@example.orgDan tweets at @DanJRandall and you can support him using your Stewardship giving account. His account number is: 20115351
I’ve been watching Twenty Twelve, the BBC’s fictional take on the run-up to London 2012. The hapless Ian Fletcher, Head of the fictional Olympic Deliverance Commission struggles to deal with bolshie and incompetent colleagues while desperately trying to keep things on an even keel. The clock is ticking as the Games draw near but will Ian and his hopeless staff get it together in time for the Opening Ceremony?
I loved Twenty Twelve, but having read lots of cynical press about the Games too, I wondered if it was nearer fact than fiction. I needn’t have worried. From the first moment of Danny Boyle’s flamboyant Opening Ceremony, London 2012 has been an unqualified success. Let me tell you some stories.
Claire & Ryan Cartwright took their young children along to the first day of the Games at the stadium. “We’d read all the cynical stories in the paper,” explains Claire, “but when we got out at Stratford, the staff couldn’t do enough for us. They were so friendly and gave us such a good experience. At the stadium, we were amazed by the enthusiasm of the crowd who cheered every athlete during all the heats and semi finals as if they were all on track for a gold medal.” Claire’s husband Ryan travels to work in London on his motorbike every day. His route takes him past the Olympic Park. “I’ve seen such a transformation over the past few years. From a run-down, derelict, unloved area, I’ve watched new life being breathed into Stratford.”
Fiona Green works on the Accounts Examination Team at Stewardship. “I volunteered at the Cycle Race through Esher on 28th July,” she says. “All the roads were closed so no-one could use their car. The sun was shining, which always helps, and there was the most incredibly social atmosphere. People were out on the streets having barbecues and chatting to everyone. I spoke to one gentleman and asked him if he’d like to have a cycle race in Esher every weekend. He thought for a minute and replied “well, maybe just on Sundays!”
In Stratford and Forest Gate, a group of churches and Christian organisations have been running a festival, reaching out into their local community. Pastor of The Highway Church, Simon Clinton, has seen the positive effect the Games have had on the area. “We live in Forest Gate. My wife was indoors when she heard the fireworks going off at the Opening Ceremony. She ran into the street in her pyjamas to see, then realised that the whole street was full of our neighbours, also in pyjamas, gazing skywards!” At the stadium, one of the team was praying for a security guard who had trapped a nerve in his back. “He was healed instantly”, says Simon. “Everyone could see that it was real because he could touch his toes, which he hadn’t been able to do for ages.”
Perhaps this goes to show that you shouldn’t believe everything you see on television! Only a few are chosen to be Olympic athletes. But as Christians, I’m reminded that we can all make a difference and engage with others, friends and strangers alike. Have a look at 1 Peter 2: 9-10. “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you – from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”
The Generosity Challenge:
As the closing ceremony swiftly approaches, where might you reach out as God's holy people? Could you speak to someone new, get involved in a community activity, or simply start up a conversation on the tube or in the street? Offer to pray for someone, celebrate your country's victories alongside your neighbours and show an enduring love and generosity that extends long after the final firework explodes in the jubilant Olympic skies.
Image courtesy of London 2012, credit: Populous.
Take a look at our six tips to consider when deciding which charitable cause to support.
The Bible calls us to present ourselves as “cheerful givers” (2 Corinthians 9:7) but also to be faithful stewards of the resources that God has given to us. While we may understand what the Bible teaches us about giving, putting it into practice isn’t always easy. If you are struggling to decide what, how much, when and where to direct your resources, hand it over to God and ask that he guides your big, booming generous heart.
2. What are your priorities?
Perhaps you feel led to give primarily to your local church? Or perhaps you view giving to the Church as supporting a whole multitude of ministries, at home and abroad? Maybe you care about the environment? Have a heart for a particular country or want to support the work of a Christian mission worker linked to your church? It’s important to choose a cause whose work you value so that, ultimately, you become an advocate for that cause and encourage others to get involved. Make a list of issues or areas that are important to you and go from there.
3. Draw on your own personal experiences
It’s likely that at some point in your life you have personally encountered a charity who has worked with you, a family member or friend.
Perhaps at some point in the past you have been in debt, suffered an illness, or have experienced loss. A charity came alongside you and made a real difference to your circumstances. You may not, at the time, been able to ‘give back’ to the charity financially, but now feel in a position to do so.
4. What sort of work does the charity do?
Many charities operate in order to respond to an immediate need. Soup kitchens, for example, are set-up to care for the day-to-day needs of the homeless.
Other charities often look to prevent and respond to long-term issues. There are many charities, for example, who look at the root problem of homelessness, and work to help individuals off the street altogether. Likewise, there are charities who work to make a difference in both the long-term and short-term, however most charities usually have a particular emphasis to their work.
In your giving, it may be helpful to consider whether you looking to make a different to the needs that exist in peoples lives NOW or are looking to contribute to longer-term change.
5. Do you want to give to a small or large organisation?
Large charitable organisations can often be very well run, forward-looking and efficient with their money. Just because large charities can have bigger overheads, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider supporting them. Giving to large organisations can often ensure that your money is being put to good use in targeted areas that have been well-researched as a result of the work that has gone on behind the scenes. That said, you may feel it important to research a charities overheads before you start giving to them.
On the other hand, when giving to a smaller charity or individual Christian worker, your gift may constitute a considerable percentage of their annual budget. It may feel that your money is making a bigger impact to the work that they do. You may also find to easier to interact with a smaller charity set-up and even have the chance to get involved yourself with voluntary work.
This leads us nicely onto...
Volunteering for a charity can be a great way to get to know a charity more and understand the day-to-day work that the charity puts in to accomplish its mission. If you don’t have time to regularly volunteer, why not dedicate some holiday time to volunteer either locally or abroad? Some charities even organise teams of volunteers to visit other countries; learn about life in disadvantaged communities and encourage you to provide practical help to particular causes.
One of the frequent questions that we are asked at Stewardship is about trustees in churches, and how that role interacts with those of the spiritual leaders; ministers, pastors, elders etc. This issue can create confusion and even at times tensions between people. As a result it is an important issue for those involved in church leadership to understand.
The confusion and tension comes out of what the church is; not only a community of Christians working together to evangelise, love and disciple principally governed by the teaching in the Bible but also, very often, a charity governed by UK law. The Charity Commission has guidance for trustees and the Bible has principles for good leadership. These need to work together if the church is to be well governed in both aspects.
It is important in each church setting to work out how these leadership principles are best achieved. This will depend on the type of structure a church has, and who the individuals are in the team. We find that when these are understood and there are good relationships between the people on the team, the different roles work well to support each other and achieve good spiritual direction and good legal governance. Where there is misunderstanding or poor relationships (and one tends to lead to the other), there can be gaps or frictions leading to problems in either or both of the spiritual and legal leadership of the church.
If you want to read more on this area, please refer to our free briefing paper email@example.com. If you think your own church could improve in this area we do recommend you humbly ask God for help, seek to understand the others in your team and work to see this resolved in line with the teaching of Ephesians chapter 4. If you would think it may help to speak to one of Stewardship’s Consultants, who have practical experience of being involved in both spiritual leadership and trustee roles, please contact
New year, new you! Lose weight, feel great! Ditch the smokes! It’s everywhere at the moment, isn’t it? As soon as the indulgence of Christmas ends, people start wagging the finger of resolution, promising it’ll make you happier. And we all know that a hastily-made resolution to give up chocolate only lasts until M&S slash the prices of their Yule logs. Surely real resolution – real transformation - ought to last longer, and have more of a domino effect, than that? Is it really just about how we as individuals transform?
Over Christmas I sit and evaluate all that has happened during the previous school term. Hard work, exhaustion, receiving verbal abuse, physical assault and very little thanks! Then I remember the lives of those kids; the broken homes and disappointment they carry. I remember with a warm glow that those same kids are now moving forward, feeling loved and beginning a life of transformation.
All those years ago I was one of those kids, worse than most of them!
After a life of crime and drug addiction I found myself in prison, serving five and a half years for armed robbery, but God had a transformational plan for my life that I could never have seen coming and it was much more powerful than any resolution I’ve ever tried to stick to by myself. While in HMP Wolds I attended an Alpha course and Jesus broke into my life. From that day on I have lived for Him and use my testimony to reach those who think they are beyond reaching and inspire the Church to reach further than they thought possible.
I joined Hope Corner Community Church on the 4th August 2000 and I am now a minister with Assemblies of God. I am responsible for running Xcel Youth Ministries and The Progressive Social Inclusion Project (PSI) - our award winning and highly successful social action project, working with excluded and marginalised young men and women in Runcorn, Cheshire. We are currently building a new centre to house the growing project and congregation. The new building will also house the Hope Corner Academy - a church-run independent SEN school.
I am married to my beautiful wife Rebekah and I have two children – Benjamin and Lydia-Grace. I graduated Mattersey Hall (bible college) and received full ministerial status with Assemblies of God (Pentecostal) in 2009.
If you had told the man I used to be that such a transformation would happen, I would have thought you were mad. All this has come about because of the faithful, generous believers coming into the prison, with their testimony of transformation on their lips. Through them Jesus found me and through me Jesus is reaching others; what an incredible domino effect!
God is now using His story in me through my book ‘Unreachable’, and in just two months since its launch 100s have responded to God’s invitation. They have begun their story and I’m sure they will pass it on too, but will you? You have an opportunity this New Year to allow God to help you make a worth-while resolution, and in doing so, achieve a transformation that ripples beyond what you could ask, hope or imagine.
Spend the start of the New Year in prayer. Ask God to show you how you can show His love in your community, with the aim of creating lasting transformation not only in your life, but in the lives of those around you. Use the topic of New Year’s resolutions as a talking point with your colleagues, friends and family, and share your vision of a resolution that leaves a legacy far beyond the cold mists of January.
> If you would like to support our ministries you can find more details at http://www.hopecorner.co.uk
> Or join me on the journey through twitter http://twitter.com/PastorDHCCC
Image source: Flickr: Easterbilby
Did you know that online giving among the good people of Great Britain experienced an increase of 75% between 2008 and 2011?* Pretty good hey?
A survey published this week by the Evangelical Alliance also revealed that within the UK evangelical Christian community, over half of those respondents surveyed said they had made online donations to a charity or ministry in the last 12 months.
The survey also reports that direct debits, standing orders, traditional cash or cheque donations still remain much more popular whilst another pioneer giving technique – texting – remains low in the popularity stakes with just 13% of survey respondents saying that they have given in this way in the last 12 months. Text-giving was, however, more popular among women and the 35-55 age group.
Here at Stewardship, we have been encouraged by the popularity of our own online giving service, successfully launched a year ago. During this time we have seen over 8591 people logging on to use their Stewardship giving accounts and in just 12 months, £7 million in online account donation requests have been fulfilled.
Over a third of all one-off gifts made into Stewardship accounts are now made online and last year £6,000 of online donations were made on Christmas day! Take a sneaky peek at how YOU could join the ever-growing generous bunch of online givers at www.stewardship.org.uk/give-funds.
So how do you like to give? Do you prefer the good old traditional giving techniques or have you dipped more than a toe into the ever expanding cyberspace giving community? Leave us your comments!
Our popular Guide to VAT especially written for churches has been completely re-written and expanded to provide a useful, readable reference guide for various interactions that churches have with the VAT system. There have been a number of major changes to the VAT system which affect churches and this Guide is up to date as at 31 October 2011. Whether the church is VAT registered or not, there are tips on how to avoid paying VAT unnecessarily which, in the case of building projects and property rents, has saved some readers many thousands of pounds.
Whilst this 38 page Guide is detailed, it seeks to distil the complexities of VAT whilst avoiding being overly technical. Rather than cover VAT as a topic, it covers only those areas that will typically be faced by churches (and Christian charities).
Separate sections cover: Introduction and General Principles, VAT Planning, VAT Registration, Property Acquisition, Use and Maintenance, VAT Reliefs for Charities, Churches Registered for VAT and Frequently Asked Questions, plus a useful contacts and addresses section. Six Appendices provide copies of the Pro Forma VAT Certificates that your church may be asked for, or may be required to provide (for example in order to gain VAT Zero rating).
We are grateful to the senior VAT Consultants at Crowe Clark Whitehill for their help in producing this Guide and ensuring that it remains an authoritative text for Churches and Christian charities.Click the link below to order the new guide.
blogs by the Stewardship team and selected guest writers.