I am thinking a lot about giving today. I have a meeting tomorrow with some folks from the Generous Giving website, and i hope to continue a conversation about generosity and giving that we started last year in London.
A lot has been written on the idea of a gift economy. Certainly the internet has opened the way for gift-giving to happen in a radically different manner than the market driven model we were brought up on. Kester Brewin started me thinking on this, when he shared with us some thoughts about “Gift” from his book “The complex Christ: Signs of emergence in the urban church. One of his thoughts is that, in the emergent church, we must “re-imagine worship as gift and re-emphasize our giving rather than receiving” One of the problems with traditional worship, according to Brewin, is that we dont get to offer our own gift (unless we preach, sing or give money) and so we must watch someone else give it. As well as that, the gift we end up giving is not the gift we necessarily want to give.
“The cycle of gift is broken if people are denied the opportunity to give, but beyond that, if people are required to give what is not truly part of them, then the gift lacks any integrity. My experience of church ended up being doubly frustrating: not only was I unable to offer my gifts, but I was forced to offer gifts of “worship” where were not of myself. . . .
In the Emergent Church, acts of worship will spring from the economy of gift.
Another reason I am thinking through gift giving is because we are attempting to launch a web site that lets emerging churches share resources freely and generously with each other. Articles on the economy of gift are enlightening. Its amazing to see businesses looking into the Scriptures to find a foundation for a new way of giving gifts. I am thankful the emerging church is also thinking through these things.