David Smallwood, who has been a Giving Adviser in the Diocese of York for the last two years, reflects on generosity and what he has learned in his time here ahead of his retirement later this month.

Generous Giving has to come from within, and is linked to our relationship with God; that’s one of the things I’ve learned over the past two years working as a Generous Giving Adviser across the Diocese of York.

When we bear witness to that relationship and God’s generosity in all areas of our life, it spreads the spirit of generous giving.

It’s the same when we talk to PCCs who want to challenge the generosity of their church and increase levels of giving: tell your story, why you are making the challenge, what will you do with the extra, and what is in it for the people.

It’s more than just paying the bills or the vicar’s stipend, and the same is true of the Diocese when it makes its Free Will Offer appeal; it has to tell its story and tell it well, in a way that PCCs can own the vision of what the Diocese is trying to achieve.

In my opinion, we do not do that very well; what’s in it for the PCCs, the churches etc? Yes, they get a vicar but they get a lot more than that too, but do they know that? As I travelled around the Diocese, churches are not necessarily aware of what the Diocesan Office team has to offer them.

Parishes and the Diocesan Office have to work better together and move away from “them and us”. We, together as churches, parishes, deaneries, archdeaconries, Diocesan Office – we are the Diocese. We need each other in order to exist, and to build our relationship with God at the centre, being generous with what we have, so the Diocese (that is all of us) can flourish in the years ahead.

"The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work."

2 Corinthians 9.6-8

For me this sums up the essence of Generous Giving and Stewardship.