How are Baptist churches funded?

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. (Psalm 24:1)

As many of you know, money’s a bit tight at Sanctuary. We are incredibly grateful that we have come this far, and for the giving which has made this possible. We are also aware that the cost of living has risen dramatically. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, giving has dropped; but this is raising some hard questions about our long term viability. In thinking about this situation, some people have asked how Baptist churches are funded. In short:

Baptist churches are independently funded and financially self-sustaining. At the core of a healthy Baptist church you’ll find a group of committed people who give money and time to ensure that there is a pastor and that the work of the church is done. Continue reading “How are Baptist churches funded?”

Where your treasure is …

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

From Sanctuary’s leadership team: At our recent leadership meeting we looked at Sanctuary’s finances and budget. Sanctuary’s main expense is our pastor’s wage. She is paid for three days a week, but puts in at least another day on top of that. Despite this being our primary expense, our finances are severely strained. The budget specifically shows that our congregational giving is down $15,000 on our projected income for this financial year. We are currently plugging that hole with $320 a week from our Job Keeper treasure chest! Continue reading “Where your treasure is …”

Luke | Slow reading | Zacchaeus: Negotiating crowds, making choices

Luke’s gospel tells us that Zacchaeus is a man of short stature; he cannot see Jesus because of the crowd. He is also limited by Roman rule, by social expectations, and by other people’s judgements. Yet he is so desperate to see Jesus for himself that he risks his dignity, climbing a sycamore tree in flapping robes to place himself in Jesus’ path. The next thing he knows, Christ is in his dwelling and at his table. Zacchaeus is so moved that he responds, unprompted, with generosity, justice and joy. Continue reading “Luke | Slow reading | Zacchaeus: Negotiating crowds, making choices”

Luke | All the loneliness money can buy

Wealth buys us distance from other people: but it comes at a cost. (Listen.)

What can money buy? There are the obvious things, of course. The big house, the nice car, the Rolex. The overseas holiday. The designer dog. But what money really buys these days is distance from other people: large swathes of uninterrupted life. Large house blocks, where you cannot hear or see the neighbours. Private cars, for quiet, independent transport. Restaurants with plenty of space between the tables. Gated apartment buildings, entry by swipe key only. Noise-cancelling headphones, for when you can’t avoid the masses. A device per person, so every member of a household can stare into their own screen, alone. Continue reading “Luke | All the loneliness money can buy”

9 | one day … #Lent2022

Give for charity [alms] that which is within you; and see, everything will be made clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. (Luke 11:41-42)

This is where I fall short on my obligations to the rest of the world in a big way. But what are those obligations? What is charity? When charity is thought of as ‘love’ I’m good at that. My favourite part of a church service is called ‘The Peace’ when you embrace your neighbour on the pew, which, it’s true, is a bit more social than godly if you already know them, but if you don’t you feel a wonderful sense of kinship with all humanity. You feel, ‘We’re all in this strange world together, mate, and we’ll make the best of it, you and I.’ … Continue reading “9 | one day … #Lent2022”

32: My employer #Lent2021

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5) + You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 15:16)

For three nights and three days I was unable to sleep, because I was thinking so much about what decision I should make. On the third night, I woke Grace up during the night. I said, “Can you pray for me, I would like to receive Jesus Christ, because my heart is torn apart.”

Continue reading “32: My employer #Lent2021”

Cartalk / Tabletalk 17: God’s economy: Enough for all

Our economic system assumes scarcity: that is, that there is never enough to go round. The anxiety generated by this idea leads us to hoard what we have, and to always seek more. But God’s abundance, seen here as manna, shows that there is enough for everyone. What do your household’s habits of working, shopping, saving, investing and giving reveal about your faith? Do you hoard money, clothes, whatever? Or do you trust God to provide what you need when you need it? How does this story challenge your economic behaviour? Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 17: God’s economy: Enough for all”

Luke | Recognizing our limits

The gospel tells us that Zacchaeus is a man of short stature. He is also limited by Roman rule, by social expectations, and by other people’s judgements. Like Zacchaeus, we too are creatures with limits. We all experience social pressures and expectations; we all have finite time, energy, money, and capacity for relationship. Everything we do conforms to or upsets social expectations; everything we do uses time, energy, money, and capacity for relationship. Wisdom means recognising this, and weighing up our commitments accordingly. At this time of year, then, when many of us are deciding what we will commit to in the year to come, let us reflect on our context, our limits, our commitments, and our relationship with Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Luke | Recognizing our limits”

Knitting in love

I remember being a child, legs swinging off the pew, when my mother gave a sermon on Dorcas. She began by holding up a copy of the newspaper’s weekend magazine. The cover showed her cousin, Col: a gold-chain wearing, chest-hair exposing boastful businessman, and close friend and associate of the now infamous Alan Bond. The accompanying article gushed over Col’s wealth, power and influence. Continue reading “Knitting in love”

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