Mike O'Neill, Stewardship
There are opportunities to be generous all day long, if you keep your eyes open. But sometimes when opportunity knocks, you’re just not prepared. You simply don’t have a spare umbrella, or an extra £2, or a toothpick. Well, let’s change that today, shall we? For the first day of Lent, create a ‘generosity kit’ that you can keep in your bag/car/desk drawer/buggy. Fill it with the kinds of things you might need in order to make someone’s day a little brighter.
Nicky and Sila Lee, The Marriage Course
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘love is a verb’, and that’s not just because it’s a fact. Part of our preparations this week should include taking the time to examine our hearts: are we hardened to others? Are we bearing grudges or feeling resentment? It’s time to soften up and show love to those around us in practical ways. And what better day to do it than on Valentines Day?
Rob Parsons, Care for the Family
The best starting point for a generous lifestyle is an attitude of gratitude. What are you thankful for today? Make a list of all the blessings in your life and stick it to your fridge or in your wallet. When the going gets tough this Lent (and it will, probably around day 16) take a look at your list and remind yourself that you’re blessed to be a blessing.
Miriam Swaffield, Fusion
Take a packet of Jelly Babies with you on your way to work, and offer them out on the train. Leave a gift on someone's doorstep, ring the bell then hide behind a tree and watch their reaction. Offer free hugs or free prayers. If someone tells you they could do with a holiday, buy them one. There's a massive amount of joy in spontaneous, outrageous generosity. The wackier the better.
Andrew Graystone, The Church and Media Network
There’s a lot going on in the world, but there’s also a lot to notice in your local community. Reading the local paper is a good way to stay up-to-date on the kinds of things that you can get involved with. Volunteering opportunities, friendship and hobby groups, local coffee mornings, notices about wildlife walks and fitness bootcamps… Spend some time reading the local paper today. Make a note of anything you could get stuck in to.
Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE, House of Lords
There are a lot of people in your community who have big (or small) dreams, and no way to make them happen. Find someone to invest in today and mentor them using the skills you have. Make it a long-term thing. Give them support and let them know they can count on you.
Ray Ashley, pubchurch
Make a point of using your local pubs, shops and community venues as much as you can. They are often a point where people get together and you’ll also be helping to support trade and business in your area. Small and independent shops are under threat and “use them or lose them” really is true.
Phoebe Thompson, Youthwork magazine
When was the last time you initiated conversation with someone from a different generation, who wasn’t related to you? Everyone has something valuable to contribute to society, but sometimes we miss those who might be feeling lonely simply because we wouldn’t normally mix in ‘their circles’. Today, make an effort to engage with someone from another generation and offer a hand of friendship to them.
Sam Gibb, Sorted Magazine
Organise a film and curry night, open up your home for those that want to watch the game, host a dinner party or invite your friends round for movies and popcorn (and remind them to bring their onesies). Extend the welcome to friends, neighbours, church folk, the parents at playgroup or your colleagues. Practise hospitality and love your community today.
Chine Mbubaegbu, threads
A British establishment older than the current Queen, the ‘tea break’ has been with us for about 200 years. Consider taking your tea break with a difference today. Buy a cup to give away to someone who is homeless or marginalised. If they don’t mind, sit with them and have tea together. Instead of ‘tea and sympathy’, try ‘tea and company’.
Andrew Salsbury, The Indigo Valley Coffee Company
It’s no secret that here at Stewardship HQ we like a bit of chocolate. We also like coffee, bananas, mangoes, honey, tea, nuts, yoghurt, muesli, hot chocolate, biscuits, sweets, oranges and… cotton? The good news is that all of these products and more are now available fairly traded. Meaning you can buy the things you love knowing that you’re helping to alleviate poverty, protect the environment and empower communities. Now that tastes good.
Elaine Storkey, Tearfund
There are more than 160,000 charities in the UK alone. That’s a lot of opportunity to give. How do you decide who to give to? Do you rely on emotional advertising to stir your charitable giving, or are you a little more picky about who you give to? What about the charities that can’t afford massive advertising budgets? Ask yourself some honest questions today: what causes are you passionate about? What do the charities you give to actually do with the money? How can you support smaller local charities as well as larger global ones?
James Catford, Bible Society
There are many things we could say about why the Bible is possibly the best thing you could share with someone you know, but the Bible itself probably says it best: ‘…I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.’ (Romans 1:16). Sharing the Bible offers another person a life-jacket, a life-manual and life-long relationship with a generous, loving saviour. Job done.
Ruth Valerio, Spring Harvest
When you hear the words ‘ethical clothing’ do you envisage an outfit less stylish than your Nana’s wardrobe, made out of hemp, banana skins, or something else quite random and possibly a little stinky? Well, hear this: ethical clothing is so 2013. Welcome to the stage ethical brands such as People Tree, Monkee Genes, Komodo and Nancy Dee. These clothing brands support their garment workers, offering fair wages and good working conditions. Unfortunately, the same cannot often be said for our high street brands. Our challenge to you: take off your jumper and take a look at the label. Do a little research about the organisation that made your jumper and the extent of their ethical policy.
Lynn Green, YWAM
In the 21st century we live in a melting pot of cultures. We like the term ‘melting pot’ because it makes us think of cheese fondue and chocolate fountains. And that gives us an idea: what if you could bring together people in your church or community from a variety of cultures, and share your national dish with each other? Build community, celebrate together, and eat a lot of good food. If you can’t organise something that big, why not seek out a neighbour from another culture and arrange to have a heritage swap? Share a beloved recipe, a national anthem – get creative.
Dave Smith, Boaz Trust
£5.33 to be exact. This is the amount that asylum seekers – unable to return to their own countries, yet unable to work in the UK – must live on per day. It might seem fairly easy at first – but consider how much you might usually spend on one normal Saturday. Shopping? Lunch with a friend? A take-away coffee? Not on a fiver. As many have already discovered, this kind of living is tough. See if you can manage it for just one day, and then consider donating what you might have spent today to a refugee charity of your choice.
Ruth Awogbade, Magnify
The theme for this week is all about making someone’s day. What better way to do that than to surprise them? Little gestures are often just as treasured as big ones, so don’t feel under pressure to do something beyond your means. Creativity, thoughtfulness and timing are everything.
Russ Bravo, Inspire Magazine
“Gertrude your geraniums are looking spectacular.”
“That new orange Mohican hairstyle really brings out the colour of your eyes Roger.”
“Double chocolate chip brownies should NOT taste this good Chris.”
Compliments and encouragements are so easy to say, yet so under-used. Make someone’s day brighter with some kind words.
Jeff Doucette, United Church of Canada
A study conducted by the University of North Carolina showed that hugs can increase levels of oxytocin, a ‘bonding’ hormone, and reduce blood pressure – which cuts the risk of heart disease. Get out of your comfort zone, be brave, and give someone a free hug today! (Just don’t get arrested while doing it)
Anna Drew, The Methodist Church in Britain
The human brain is automatically wired to be more attracted to smiling faces, and there’s a reason for it – smiles are brilliant. They also boost your immune system. And doesn’t it make your morning commute or your supermarket shop that bit nicer if someone smiles and genuinely says ‘good morning!’ or ‘have a nice day’? You never know who might be in need of a kind smile today.
Joel Edwards, Micah Challenge
Living with lots of criticism and no thanks can harden people, but appreciation of the smallest things can make a person feel cherished and worthwhile. Try this: when you wake up in the morning – before you check your emails, fill the kettle or jump in the shower – grab a pen and write a thank you note. Starting your day thankful is a great foundation for generosity.
Anne Atkins, BBC Radio 4
A good church can be many things to us: a community hub, a support system, a social venue, an education or a sanctuary. Think about all the things your church means to you, and then consider one or two ways you could love your church tomorrow. It might be that you could offer your skill, a financial gift, a flower arrangement or an offer of friendship to someone new.
Dr Bex Lewis, The BIGBible Project
You’ve got that crazy, glittery, furry scarf-thing sitting in that box at the back of your wardrobe, haven’t you? It’s been there for 3 years, and you’ve never worn it. And the tie – the one with the glowing reindeer nose that sings when you press it – is clogging up valuable hanging space. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure though, so before you head for the bin consider filling charity shop bags or organising a clothes swap evening. You could charge £2 on the door and donate the proceeds to a charity of your choice.
Krish Kandiah, Evangelical Alliance
Be honest, when was the last time you made a new friend? We can often get caught socialising with the same people over and over again, making it quite hard for new people to join in. Organise a social event – a trip to the cinema, a dinner party or a sports event – and make a point of inviting at least one new person.
Paul Kerensa, BBC1's Miranda
What did the ironing board say to the iron? “You’re hot”.
Dust off your favourite groan-inducers and share a little laughter love today. Post your one-line wonders on our 40acts Facebook page.
Debbie Wright, Stewardship
In the age of digital and online communication, it’s surprising how little time we can spend communicating with the person sitting next to us on the sofa of an evening. Switch off the TV/iPad/mobile phone, dust off that favourite board game and have an evening of good old fashioned interaction.
Florence Brookes, Student
You don’t need to be nifty with a sewing machine, or a toolbox, or an oven to create something to give away. Make whatever comes naturally to you. Bake a cake, build a computer, be creative. And if you struggle to make something, offer to fix something instead.
Sheridan Voysey, Writer and Speaker
If you’re normally the person who decides on leisure activities, make a point of spending today doing the things that the other person wants to do. A football match or romantic comedy might not be your cup of tea, but you can enjoy watching the other person have fun. This is a great act to do with your children, if you have them. You may find yourself doing unexpected but nonetheless joyful things like puddle-jumping, making star-shaped pancakes or reading an extra story (or three) at bedtime.
Dave Bookless, A Rocha UK
Leave the car-keys in the pot; plan your journey on foot (or by public transport, if you can’t walk to your destination) and emit fewer environmental nasties into the atmosphere.
Rev John Lampard, Minister
Not one for the squeamish, but an important act of generosity nonetheless. These days, doctors can give people prosthetic limbs and reconstruct faces, but blood still cannot be manufactured: it has to be gifted. Statistics show that more than 25% of us will require blood in our lifetimes. It’ll take you ten minutes to give one unit of blood, and the NHS uses 10,000 units per day. Freely you have received, freely give.
Chris Duffett, Baptist Union of Great Britain
‘Well I think that…’
‘In my opinion…’
‘My feeling is that…’
It’s nice to feel heard. The first rule of most relationships is good communication – but that requires speaking and listening. Make a point of zipping up and opening your ears instead of your mouth. And be on the lookout for those around you who might need someone to talk to today. Resist the urge to give advice unless it’s welcome, and just provide a sympathetic ear to someone in need.
Chris Naylor, A Rocha
Bags, bottles, cups, plates…there’s a whole heap of plastic that ends up as landfill, taking centuries to decompose (and some of it never does). One beach in Hawaii now reportedly has more plastic particles than sand particles, which goes some way to driving home the message. Plastic is a useful invention, but we need to steward it better. Reuse, recycle or quit.
Alexandra Khan, Stewardship
We live in a digital age, where influence is measured in the amount of Twitter followers you have, or the number of ‘Likes’ on your Facebook status. What if you could use your influence for good? What if you could mobilise those around you to help change the world? Not all of us are social media users, but a lot of us have positions of responsibility either in church, the workplace or the wider community. Wherever you have a voice, you can choose to use it for the good of the people and environment around you.
Richard Higginbottom, TullochNET
This act doesn’t have to be complicated. Your local garden centre will be able to advise you what kind of trees to plant in your garden, or you could contact your local council for advice on where to plant a tree in a public space. You might not see the fruit of this act for many years, but it will leave a legacy that will continue long after you’re gone.
Caleb Meakins, Shift UK
Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, the old adage goes. In a world where it is becoming increasingly desirable to ‘blend in’, how are you different? What is it about your beliefs that set you apart? How might you stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves? Each time you stand for what is good, right and true you make a generous contribution to the world around you. Find a way to stand up and stand out today.
Ruth Leigh, Writer
If you’ve never thought of prayer as a generous act, then you’ve been underestimating how effective it is. Be encouraged – your prayers are powerful gifts to others. Take time out to pray for a few people today: friends, enemies, co-workers, children.
Bernice Hardie, WAVE
Sometimes we don’t do the things we know we ought to do, because we’re afraid that we’ll fail. Good news though – life isn’t just about us. When we take a moment to raise our heads over the parapet, we notice that there’s a whole lot of pain in the world today and with it the opportunity to do hard - but great - things to help. Take time today to review the challenges before you; the things that make your spirit stir and your blood pump faster. Be brave, and take steps towards them today.
Bekah Legg, Liberti Magazine
Hearing testimonies can be a powerful experience. Knowing how God might have moved in someone else’s life can give you the strength and hope to weather a storm in your own. We carry these messages of hope and redemption with us daily, but sometimes when we’re asked to tell our stories we clam up. Take some time today to write out your testimony or speak it aloud. Use it as an opportunity to thank God for your journey, and to consider how telling others about it may bless them.
Charles Osewalt, Stewardship
Accepting an apology is sometimes hard. Choosing to forgive someone when they don’t even apologise can seem impossible. Take inspiration from Jesus, though, who forgave those who crucified him even while he was in the midst of the pain of death. When we say ‘I forgive you’, we are doing so much more than putting our mouth to mindless words. We are saying ‘you did something to me that really hurt, but I choose forgiveness over anger, and healing over pain.’ Powerful stuff, friends.
Mike O'Neill, Stewardship
It is easy to become defined by the hardships that we face. “I’m a single mother”, “I’m unemployed”, “I’m a widower”, “I’m disabled”. We sometimes label ourselves based on our negative experiences, instead of using those experiences to help others. Jesus’ story didn’t end on the cross: three days later he rose again to overcome sin and death forever. Our stories are varied, but we too are called to overcome. Today, make the choice to use your experiences – good and bad – for the benefit of those around you. You might set up a charity, write a book, or simply be a friend to someone in a similar situation.
40acts is a campaign from Stewardship that encourages you to do Lent generously.
Lent is usually about 'giving stuff up', isn't it? What if you could add something transformational to the traditional?
What if you could give up chocolate and give the money to your favourite charity? What if you could turn the TV off and
spend more time helping your neighbour? What if your Lent, this year, was a preparation for a lifetime of big-heartedness?
You can download any of the resources below to share with friends or take to your church for free.
Go on, download and get involved!