Steve Jones, OCC Senior Pastor, introduces our founding vision for the church - and how that leads us to prepare for our 2023 Gift Days on Sundays 18 and 25 June, and 2 July.
Our founding vision: blessed to be a blessing!
The founding vision for OCC was not only to be a great local church, but a church that blesses the whole city, the region, and the nations. For nearly 40 years, God has enabled us to be super-generous. Like many churches, we make sure that we give at least 10% of our income to bless others – but then we also do far more than that:
- We support mission to unreached people groups in this country and overseas
- We train leaders who we then send to bless others beyond Oxford
- We give time to gather and inspire people across the city through initiatives like ‘Renew Oxford’
- We sometimes give money to help other local churches in the city when they have a specific need
That generosity has been such a healthy way to live, and it’s also been fundamental to all the growth that we have seen. As it says in Galatians 6, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” The habit of generosity invites God then to fill up our bank accounts, so that we can be even more generous again.
In fact, truth be told, when we have sometimes lapsed in generosity, and planned to spend less on blessing others, it hasn’t left the church with a full bank account. When we’ve planned to sow less, we’ve actually seen our income reduce – meaning that everyone ended up worse off than when we planned to be more generous!
What are our 2023 Gift Days for?
In guiding believers towards generosity, the Bible describes both tithes and offerings. The tithe, 10% of our income, is our basic regular giving, and offerings beyond that take us into the realms of ever greater generosity.
The church’s regular tithe income alone doesn’t provide the level of resource needed for us to sustain our high level of giving to bless others and to grow.
For us to continue existing local ministry, and then also to run School of the Spirit, to provide Upper Room training, to lead Renew Oxford, to develop afresh in East Oxford, to connect more with Bethel Church, to support ministry overseas and to support Safe Families (see below) – will cost at least £50,000 more than our tithe income alone.
So, these Gift Days are a nudge to get us all into the groove of generosity, even extraordinary generosity: some might start giving regularly for the first time; all are invited to add an offering.
The Safe Families story
For the past 18 months, we’ve been working with other local churches in Oxford to set up a shared partnership with Safe Families, a wonderful Christian charity who enable volunteers to get alongside families in crisis – like Emma and her kids – and make a real difference in their lives. In just the last few weeks, a formal partnership proposal has been agreed, meaning that the project can start this autumn. This means that the churches together now need to raise £40,000 per year, and we want OCC to play our part. We’re going to start that by giving 10% of our Gift Day income to Safe Families in Oxford.
We're expecting stories of miraculous provision!
We’re expecting stories of miraculous provision, such as we’ve seen first-hand in the past:
Some time ago when our mortgage was £1.5M, we prayed for God to help us and the next morning we received £790,000. Remarkable!
A few years ago, some exceptionally generous families moved on from Oxford and our income looked as though it would drop by £70,000, but a tithe by a single family on an exceptional windfall filled that gap entirely. Miraculous!
More recently we had a gap in our finances of £51,000, which we prayed about and saw filled by three gifts that same week. Amazing!
As we approach the Gift Days
Please could you do two things:
- Join me in praying that God would provide more than the £50,000 needed to fill our budget gap?
- Join me in asking what God would have you give to the church, and then give it cheerfully?
For more on how we seek to live by faith, reaching out as God provides, and our participation in what God is doing beyond the local church please read 10 Dynamics of our Church Finances (2018).
For more on tithes, offering and Gift Days; OCC's longer-term strategy for church staffing; the effect of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis on OCC; and what we're doing to manage costs, please visit our Gift Days 2023 FAQ page.
For more detailed information on the church finances for 2022-23 and 2023-24, please email @email