The last two weeks have been tougher than most. At Claypot we’re experiencing a budget shortage. Even though we run our whole community on a budget of R40 000 a month ($5000), we suddenly had a budget shortage (I use past tense because it has been resolved).
Here is what happened.
When we started Claypot we clearly articulated to all our members that we value giving and that it is a huge part of our journey with God. Unlike other churches we encouraged members to give where they felt led, even if that meant that they wouldn’t give directly to Claypot. For us this develops a mindset that we’re involved in the kingdom of God and that the kingdom is bigger than the boundaries of our own community.
This concession meant that 11 people have kept Claypot’s budget afloat for the last six years. Add to that the occasional money given from outside our community and we never had problems with the budget. This budget includes support for the Smith household, a pastor in Venda, a friend in Diepsloot and for the Mozambique project as well as all the day-to-day costs to keep our community going.
Due to the fact that the amounts from outside dried up we had a real serious talk last Sunday where we had to come back to the basics of what it means to be a community. We asked members to commit monthly towards giving.
As the pastor of our community I can tell you that it was hard for me. It was hard because I realized that some people in or community were giving nothing – not to Claypot or anywhere else and that people who are giving at other places had to tell those people/organizations that they had to stop their contributions in order to ‘start their charity at home’.
It was a pretty emotional two weeks for me and our whole faith family. A wake-up call of sorts.
We’re awake again … and I’m glad … I’m realizing again how hard it is for rich people (like us) to follow Jesus and that there is a huge gap between saying we follow Jesus and actually following him.
This whole episode has forced us to reevaluate and recommit. It reminded me of this quote by Jean Vanier
At the start of a community, God’s action can often be felt very tangibly – in the gift of a house or money, the arrival of the right person at the right time, or other external signs. Because of its poverty, the community is completely dependant on him. It calls and he responds. It is faithful in prayer. It lives in insecurity, it welcomes whoever knocks on the door, it share what it has with the poor, and tries to take all its decisions in the light of God. In these early days, it is often misunderstood by society. People judge it as utopian or quite simply crazy; to a degree, it is persecuted. Then with time, people see that this crazy project is working; they discover its values and radiance. The community is no longer persecuted; it is admired and becomes renowned. It has friends which meet its needs. Gradually, it becomes rich. It begins to make judgments. It becomes powerful.
Then there is danger. The community is no longer poor and humble; it is self-satisfied. It no longer turns to God as it did before; it no longer begs his help. Strong in its own experience, it knows how to go about things. It no longer takes decisions in the light of God; prayer becomes tepid. It closes its doors to the poor and the living God. It becomes proud. It needs to be jolted and to go through some serious trials if it is to refind its child-like quality and its dependence on God. Community and Growth p.158-159