Tuesday, November 14, 2006

talking about money, money

The Bible text for Sunday was Matthew 6:19-21: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. We humans do seem to struggle with stuff.


Sunday morning I offered the following equation: 3597 divided by (86 times 1321) = 3.2%

3597. This is our church’s weekly church offerings over this year. (Which, by the way, is a 12% increase on last year, building on a 15% increase on the year before.)

86. Well, Opawa has 140 church members. Some members live alone, some members live in families. So our 140 members live in 86 households.

1321 is the average income for a household in New Zealand. This is based on Statistics New Zealand figures for June 06.

So, if our church is anywhere close to average, then currently our giving (3597), equals just over 3% of an average New Zealand household income.

I stressed that this was a fact and not a value judgement. I simply wanted to place the fact alongside the words of Jesus as a way of asking the question: Are we, as a church, storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven?

It certainly produced some chat over coffee after the service. I suspect that our church is probably about normal. I suspect stuff is a problem for the entire Western church. What do you think? Do you think the number has any relevance?

(By the way, this was only part of the sermon. I also talked about fasting from TV; committing acts of economic repentance etc. The full text of the sermon is here).

Posted by steve at 12:23 PM


  1. I think it’s relevant. I have worked hard this year at consuming less – and the fact I have had to suggests it’s more of an issue for me than I thought

    One thing Kelli and I have done is to use things like World Vision and Tear Fund’s “Gifts” catalogues. When we want to get a gift we choose one that helps others and stops us accumulating more stuff… I’ve found it really rewarding and it’s changed my focus

    Brave sermon Steve. Bless you. Every church I’ve been to seems to stop short of talking about this topic. I think you presented it really well.

    Comment by Randall — November 14, 2006 @ 4:02 pm

  2. Sorry just one more – I’ve actually found the process of consciously giving more – and sometimes til it hurt a bit – quite liberating.

    Like getting into a hot bath and THEN realising how tired you were. I realise now I was so tired of feeling a subconscious need to accumulate for me…

    Comment by Randall — November 14, 2006 @ 4:05 pm

  3. Randall, I think you have named something really important.

    In the sermon I talk about traditional interpretations of Sermon on Mt as idealism. Instead I suggest that Jesus is offering us practical Christianity. When we practice these practices — when we forgive and when we bless our enemies and when we give away our treasure; we are being saved/freed/liberated.

    That makes the Sermon on the Mt SO exciting for me.

    Comment by steve — November 14, 2006 @ 4:30 pm

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