Meals for Families

Following on from my thoughts that lead to this idea I would like to explore a measure that might help and also encourage families to spend more time together.

What I’m imagining (speaking as a non-cook! Oh dear!) is the provision of cheap, reasonable quality meals, for families. To qualify for access to such meals you would need to turn up as a minimum of one adult and one child. The meals would be on one or more weekdays and would be available between 5pm and 8pm. Payment for the meals would be necessary except in exceptional circumstances. It would be attractive because the family would need to make less effort to have a meal and yet still have a meal at a very reasonable price.

This would appear to improve contact between family members (addressing the issues outlined here) and also be a way to create relationships between church people and non-church people.

Would be interested in your comments.

What Poverty Today?

If we strip out the UK government definition of poverty as being those households with an income of lower than 60% of the average UK income, then we are left with the question of what poverty is there in the UK today?

In theory UK welfare and bankruptcy laws should provide for the needs of daily life, such as food and shelter. However, I do recognise that the application of this theory is fraught – I have personally had to spend time helping a friend claim what was due her (after she had suffered injuries that had made her unable to work). It’s as if our society wants to make it as hard as possible to keep one’s head above water in difficult circumstances.

So apart from money troubles due to the lack of help available to get the benefits of bankruptcy or welfare (and these are far from insignificant matters) what poverty do we have today?

My post the other day about the well-being of our children made me think that perhaps a large problem was the amount of time that family members spend with each other.

This is essentially what is behind the ‘Keep Sunday Special’ campaign – the idea that families need to spend more time together. However, because I don’t see any theological reason for Sunday actually being a special day, then I would rather tackle the issue directly rather than attempt to tell people that they shouldn’t work on Sunday. The church needs to wake up to the needs of those that work on a Sunday and change from having what is generally regarded as a key time within the church on a Sunday morning.

So I guess it comes down to providing for people’s poverty. If the poverty is a lack of quality time together then do things that enable people, from diverse backgrounds, to be able to have that time together.

Whilst I’m not sure that I would back a ‘keep dinner special’ campaign or a ‘play boardgames instead of watching TV’ campaign there are surely things we can do.

What are the things that are eating into people’s family time?

  • Sports
  • Watching sports
  • TV viewing
  • Ready meals and easy snacking
  • I’m sure that there are many others…

… but that last one gives me an idea:
Meals for Families

I think that that will need to be my next post!

Exactly Who is Doing the Giving?

Bartley brings up the issue of Government funding the church to carry out welfare services. This is a hot topic for many missions of the church including youthwork.

Whilst there are many considerations around the matter, I would like to merely ask: Who is doing the giving?

This is a hard question, but we all need to be careful that we consider it and are aware of it in our own situations.

As Christians, God has asked us to give our lives, as a sacrifice, to put others first. We show love in what we do, because it is our resource that we are giving.

If I give and in my giving I employ someone else to do the work, is it me who is giving or is it my employee? Well, it is me – surely. Sure, there may be the case where my employee is adding his giving on top of mine, perhaps putting in extra hours. That would be the his giving, not mine.

Our love needs to consist of giving of what we have got. Being a ‘professional Christian’ doesn’t mean that you are giving anything – it is only when you go beyond your job that you are giving, or when you receive ‘tiny pay’ (I knew that there was a good reason for such low pay! 🙂 ) – just the same as a shelf-stacking job down at Tesco’s, it is only when you go beyond the requirements of your job that you begin to give.

(note: how fantastically tax efficient it is to be a low paid youthworker and to make your giving your time rather than your money! Alternatively you could give money, but be taxed on the extra income you would need to receive before giving the money away. There isn’t a rule on this though – we just individually have to know God’s calling, and sometimes that can be to make money, possibly…)

When we think about giving let’s start by looking at what we have to give. It doesn’t need to be ‘silver and gold’ of which you may ‘have none’, but it does need to be something that you have.

Don’t seek merely to be an unloving, ungenerous, ungiving conduity of someone else’s love or giving. Don’t seek to merely be an paid arm of the state, or a paid arm of other Christians.

Sure, join with others who want to give, join with those who want to fund (as long as they have the same ultimate aims and wish to use the same methods as you), but don’t forget where your giving ends and someone else’s giving begins.

Ultimately it is giving what God has freely given us that matters.

Youthwork is a fantastically important thing to be doing – do make sure that the youth can see that you are not just giving other’s resources, but that you are giving your own too. It is that that gives you authenticity.

As an aside, I’ve just come across a case where (non-church) parents were given a letter by the youthwork explaining that as so much money went on upkeep of the church building it would be useful for parents to contribute to the youth activities. I was a bit bemused that the church felt it worth saying that the building was a higher priority than the people and that, whilst the church was willing to spend hundreds of pounds a week on the building, it wasn’t willing to spend a much smaller amount on people…

Slope and Control

With regards to Richard’s piece on ‘slope‘ and the comments about it:

I was thinking about the time I spend with the youth of our local church. Am I:
1. Running a group with the agenda of communicating Christ to them
2. Running a group with the sole agenda of enabling them to be a group and have their own agenda’s, and just being Christ to them.

Certainly the pressure is on me (from tradition) to do (1) and sure I hope that I do communicate Christ to them, but is that my agenda?

Hmmm, is there a condition that I attach to attendance that they must allow me to control a certain amount of the time we spend together? If so, do they come in spite of that? If so, is that a positive thing?

Would it be better to relinquish any attempt to control and just to be there on their terms?

Whilst I’m tending toward the idea of a lack of control I’m not sure that this is a lack of slope. Surely if I practise ‘being Christ to people’ then I am always a slope, always a way in?

But this is slope without hidden agenda, without control, without events – just me being the new me.


Church Calendar

I’m of the thinking that a Church calendar puts ‘rules’ about what happens in church before the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – that it limits our ability to respond to the Holy Spirit’s.

Is this true at Pentecost?

As we are now around the time of Pentecost many of us are hearing the story told at the beginning of Acts. So can being taught about the Holy Spirit get in the way of the intentions of the Holy Spirit???

I’m tempted to think ‘yes it can’!!!