Stewardship’s Lent challenge, 40acts, which launched on Ash Wednesday, has led to a wave of over 2.9million acts of generosity over 40 days.
The challenge, which comes to an end this Saturday, asks people to do one simple generous act each day over Lent.
This year it had 75,000 people taking part, making this year’s challenge the biggest in its five year history.
Over the last 40 days participants have cleaned graffiti off local buildings, left free chocolates in gym lockers, wrote letters of encouragement to those in prison, surprised strangers with flowers or bought coffee for them in cafes, and invited the neighbours around for ‘pudding parties’ in an attempt to ‘give out’ rather than just give something up for Lent.
One of the most popular challenges of this year’s 40acts was #chocolatetuesday, where thousands of people slipped chocolate bars into people’s handbags, gave out free chocolates on trains and buses, or bought in sweet treats for their class at school.
The challenge encourages people to make living generously a daily habit and gives participants the opportunity to be generous not just with their money, but also with their time, their words, their skills and their hugs!
40acts concluded on Holy Saturday, where those taking part were challenged to do one last anonymous blow-out act of generosity that stretched them beyond their comfort zones.
The award-winning 40acts challenge run by charity Stewardship provided tailored materials to ensure schools, churches, groups, students, families and individuals could take part.
Ruth Bartholomew, who took part in 40acts this year with her husband and three daughters said: “We chose to do 40acts as a family so that we would have activities that we could do together and to show kindness within our family and also to our community members.
“It has had a positive impact on us all. Through all the acts we have taken part and in particular by delivering flowers, cakes, and treats to our neighbours, we have positively influenced our community and opened doors to more meaningful relationships with those we share life with.”
40acts also has a huge following on social media where those taking part share their actions for each day and encourage each other. This year the 40acts Facebook group more than doubled in size from 12,000 to 25,000 and its Instagram community tripled from 900 to 2,700 sharing their photos online. 2000 new Twitter followers joined the conversation, creating a community that supported and encouraged each other.
Alexandra Khan, part of the 40acts team at Stewardship, said: “It’s been a phenomenal year. The 40acts community is an incredible mix of people from all over the world. We’ve loved hearing their stories, seeing new friendships forged, and watching a ripple of generosity happen throughout Lent. For the last 40 days, the motto was ‘do Lent generously’. But now? Now it’s time to ‘do Life generously’.”
You can view Stewardship’s video to conclude the challenge here:
Taken from a Press Release
So, it’s time for Lent. For once, I haven’t been on top of exactly when it’s coming, as after four years of doing #bigread, we’ve taken a break this year (it’s a huge amount of work, you know) – materials remain available online. Anyway, Lent starts Wednesday, with Easter Day 5th April (I’ll be at Spring Harvest, come join!)
So, what will I be engaging with for Lent?
I’m already engaged in a discussion group on Facebook, reading We Make the Road by Walking, which will last all year.
As I have done for the last few Lent/Advent sessions, I am going to receive Brian Draper‘s daily ‘in the moment’ emails, which always give something to chew over for the day.
A few years ago, I gave up supermarket shopping for Lent. I think this year, I will again do a food-focused challenge, in which I will focus on the foods in my cupboards, and seek to make meals from those, preferably topping up from small ‘fill-in’ shops, rather than a ‘big shop’ (in either sense of the word), and remove some of that consumerist mindset!
Finally, I love what @40Acts does, and look forward to engaging with the ‘gentle’ acts suggested within the ‘green’ section of 5 minutes or less (as this year acts will be split into 3 levels, according to the energy that you have that day):
So, looking around on Lent stuff that’s appearing all over the web – I still want to find ways to bring it all together … the web allows us both to be super-niche (which seems to be current model) or really make an impact by getting all together…
So – I sat still for 10 minutes … I had set the timer on my phone … and had to resist the desire to check how much longer was left! I sat on my sofa, wrapped in a blanket – starting off head down – but my head was filling up with half-conversations, deadlines, and all the other things I know I haven’t (yet?) managed to do… I then started staring at my bookcase, but that made me wonder when I was going to engage with that stuff… FYI it’s mostly full of books on coaching; body image; travel (lots!); consumerism & propaganda posters! As they say – 28 days to develop a habit (& I found this daily blogging habit helpful on #adventbookclub) … so let’s see what further days bring!
Brian Draper: Lent 40
I’ve been on retreat with Brian a couple of times – and he’s managed to get me to sit still (maximum of 15 mins I think we got to!) – and I’m looking forward to his daily emails – see what it starts with:
‘He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.’ Albert Einstein
Are we feeling challenged by the 40 days ahead as Jesus was on facing the desert? How is what I am choosing to do going to make a difference to me in my discipleship journey (it’s a bonus if others do too!).
Powerful words from Brian himself:
The point of this journey is not to get through it, but to break up our busyness-as-usual routine, and to discover what happens when we make time for what matters most.
What have we been missing in our rush to get somewhere else? What we do is less important than the HOW (by which I’m thinking our attitude to it)… do you agree?
Spotted on Facebook:
‘Create a Generosity Kit’ – I think I might look at my handbag tonight and see what I tend to carry … ensure I have some spare coins, first aid type stuff, some cough drops/tissues … although I’ve been trying to de-clutter my bag too! Maybe I should look at good stuff for the car… e.g. Mars Bars/Ropes/Jump Leads, etc. and ensure that they’re all in good condition – that may be more of an ‘action’..
Stephen Cottrell: Christ in the Wilderness
Checking into @pamjwebster & enjoying this simple thought… and the one above for me sums up what I’ve said to many … yes we can spend too long on social media – but does that require ‘cold turkey’ or a healthier way of living?:
And I’m keeping an eye on Cybersten’s #lentphotos … is adding taking a photo a day too much?!
Last year was the first year that I really “did” anything for Lent, when I organised The Big Read 2011. I had watched (particularly non-Christian) friends giving things up, but not participating…
Lent is the time when we are preparing for Easter, which some have described as ‘New Year for Christians’ – when we remember the 40 days of preparation that Jesus spent in the desert:
Taken up for 2012?
This year, I am again running ‘The Big Read 2012‘. We had the materials prepared a lot sooner, and have prepared social media layers, so there’s more conversation – but a lot of it is still going on offline – people keep saying how wonderful it is – would love people to demonstrate that by partaking more online
Given up for 2012?
For a couple of months I’ve been trying to sort out my cupboards by eating up what’s in them, and increasing my “local” shopping, but still ending up at the supermarket with £100 trolley loads… which then don’t seem to add much to the choices in the cupboard (and I’m not feeling particularly flush in the pocket so need to save some ££)! So, for Lent, I’ve formalised that – no shopping in the big out of town supermarkets (and avoiding the in-town ones if possible).
- Last Sunday I went to the Farmer’s Market & shot around – spending about £20 – not a huge amount of stuff, but very tasty!
- Yesterday I made it into town, picking up milk in £land, £13 worth of fruits & veg from the marketstall (towards end of day, when they are down-pricing everything).. not sure if even then I don’t have too much
- I seem to be whizzing around the country, so I have pre-cooked a load of meals yesterday to put in the freezer – as I don’t want to waste food either.
I’m thinking more about what I need, what I’m buying, and having a more interesting range of foods, as I had bought things meaning to try them, but it seemed easier to buy something else! Let’s see how we get on…
Thought 1: What to talk about today?
So, it’s Tuesday, what does that mean? Not knowing the Easter timeline all that well, I was very pleased to spot this Holy Week Timeline via someone’s Twitter account, and blogged about it earlier today on BigBible.
According to the timeline above, we’re onto the withered fig tree, but EasterLive gives us a clear outline for the stories that we are looking at.
Thought 2: Tom Wright: The Parables
So, Tom Wright has talked to us about the Tenants in the Vineyard:
and in week 4, it was all about parables!
Thought 3: What has everyone else been talking about?
EasterLive have given us clickable options to what others have been talking about (I am assuming across the whole hashtag, rather than just for today):
Ah no, I just clicked, it’s not doing a tag cloud, it has given a list of pre-suggested words (so #Easterlive tweeters, get using them), as there’s a couple that are empty if you click through into them.
Thought 4: Arguments
Do arguments have to difficult, harsh, etc.? I googled ‘Postive Argument’, which may be some kind of scientific term, but I liked The Happiness Project outline of how to positively contribute to arguments..
There’s so many things we could follow around the web, but I’m off to meet with Huw, the imaginative person behind EasterLive, to celebrate his upcoming birthday…