Giving Up

Published: 18th February 2024

Jonathan Hill, Lichfield Diocese’s Director of Finance contemplates an alternative understanding of ‘giving up for Lent’

We so easily misrepresent Lent as a miserable time of depriving ourselves – of giving up sweet treats or alcohol, other nice things and even joy. But it is really about reflecting Jesus time in the desert in contemplation and resisting temptation, preparing himself for the years of his public ministry that were about to start.

It is a great time for us to each reflect on our own ministries – we all have them, to family, friends and communities around us: some are very public as clergy and lay ministers, others very quiet through supporting neighbours or words of encouragement or praying for others.

It is often said that the last part of a person to be converted when they come to faith is their wallet, yet tales of generosity and advice on using whatever little wealth we have are the most common topics in the Bible. Some preachers vehemently call for each of us to give exactly ten percent of our income to support the local or global church; a number that comes from the Old Testament: others simply urge considered generosity, following the instruction of St Paul to the Corinthians – “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). The Church of England recommends giving 5% to the local parish and 5% to other Christian mission. What we each actually give is up to us, unknown to the vicar or PCC or anyone else.

What we do know is that our churches, despite the challenges of a secularising nation and reduced voluntary activity across the country, remain key to many communities providing practical and spiritual services. Many people who rarely enter the church value the presence of our buildings at various points in life. And keeping them open relies on the tithes of the faithful and the generosity of visitors. There is good news here – the average regular giver in the Church of England contributes about £15 each week. In Lichfield Diocese the figure is £11.15, not terrible in a diocese with significant pockets of deprivation and amazingly 7% up on pre-pandemic, pre-cost-of-living-crisis levels. And to those who remain faithful givers, both diocese and parishes are very grateful. However, the number of regular givers has fallen, meaning budgets in parishes generally are squeezed.

I find it hard to process the numbers and detailed spreadsheets without a cup of coffee in my hand, and enjoy buying from a well-known retailer on my way to work. But after a few scribbles on the back of a coffee cup, I realised that if I gave up one cup per week and gave it’s cost to my parish and every other giver did the same, we’d solve the cash-flow issues in our parishes at a stroke. I have resolved to do that with a direct debit through the Giving Direct scheme which sends funds directly to your chosen parish.

So my challenge to you this lent is to review your generosity – to your parish church and elsewhere, and do as I have.

Jonathan Hill is Lichfield Diocese’s Director of Finance.

The diocese offers three ways that help people give to their parishes: through Giving Direct standing orders which ensure parish receives both the gift AND recouped Gift Aid within 14 days; through our Just Giving account; and for one-off gifts, the Donate Now scheme can be added to parish websites. More information at


Page last updated: Friday 16th February 2024 3:36 PM
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