This page answers some of the common questions you may have about the 2023 Gift Days specifically. More general questions are tackled here, such as
- how we seek to ‘live by faith’ as a church (to put it negatively, "are we living beyond our means?")
- why we seek to serve others
- the differences between tithes and offerings ("why give regularly to my church?")
- charity governance ("are we church or a charity?")
Why do we do Gift Days?
As we’ve said elsewhere, “Biblically, we see the tithe as the starting point for giving, so many of our members give a monthly 10% tithe of their income as well as one-off tithe when they receive unexpected financial blessing.
Probably because of the demographic profile of the church, 5-10% part of our church income comes from large, one-off and unpredicted gifts.” Also, around 71% of regulars at OCC don't give regularly, and Gift Days also provide an opportunity to tell them about the needs of our shared mission, and invite them to participate.
So in 2019, 2021 and 2023 we’ve planned Gift Days. Probably we’ll end up doing one most years, but the elders will make the decision each year. Gift Days in 2019 saw God provide £27,000, and in 2021 £70,000. We didn’t do a Gift Day in 2020 because of the pandemic.
We also have a longer established habit of taking special offerings for a building project (or to pay down the associated mortgage). In 2017, churches across the county coordinated a Gift Day, which raised £150,000 to pay down our shared mortgage.
What are this year's Gift Days for?
What is the effect of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis on OCC?
We are very grateful that, as part of the Oxfordshire Community Churches charity, financially we ‘weathered the storm’ of the pandemic reasonably well. Our committed members continued to give regularly and generously, for which we were very grateful.
The most significant impact was the temporary closure of The King’s Centre Ltd, which had a massive effect on the profits it was able to donate to our charity – we are only gradually recovering.
The cost-of-living crisis has increased our costs (including energy costs, and needing to pay our staff fairly), but also impacted the charitable sector, as organisations that raise funds from public donations, like Edge Housing, are finding it more difficult to do so.
What is OCC doing to manage costs, short-term?
We are currently in our annual budget process, which leads us to carefully review all of our spending in light of our current vision and priorities, as well as scrutinising our income. Right now, we have asked all our staff and volunteer team leaders to spend only what is necessary, for a season, while we await the forthcoming June 2023 Gift Days.
What is the longer-term strategy for financial planning?
You will see that a major part of our budget (around one third) is pastoral staffing.
As we say elsewhere, we are committed to “volunteer teams serving different areas of church life, with leaders equipping everyone to play their part.” In some churches, staff leaders do the ministry; but in OCC we see that staff leaders equip everyone to do their ministry!
We are also called to be a training church – we sometimes use the term ‘apostolic base’ – that is a resource for God’s work more widely.
This means that we need enough staff capacity to mobilise and support people both for the local ministry of OCC, and our part in God’s wider work.
In the medium-term we are strategically developing our staff team so that, instead of a full-time Senior Pastor and one Assistant, we are migrating to a number of part-time Assistant Pastors, in order for people to be more focused (less thinly spread) and therefore more fruitful in ministry and flourishing personally.