Last week, Elevation Church in North Carolina did something quite commendable.
They take in an average of $40,000 weekly even though they don’t have a building of their own. They’re trying to raise capital to get one. What are they doing for their capital campaign?
Giving away money.
Taking a page out of Oprah’s playbook (I assume), they decided to take a week’s worth of money and Pay It Forward — it was called the Bless Back Project.
When pastor Steven Furtick instructed members to pluck from the collection bowls, filled with envelopes containing $5, $10, $20, $50 or $100, some people didn’t believe it. One person at each of the five services even got an envelope with $1,000.
Members looked at Furtick like “What’s the punchline?” he recalled. “Then the creative wheels started turning.”
The money isn’t to keep, Furtick told them. Instead, members were to go out and do something random for someone else.
Get inventive, he said, and tell us about it.
Of the $40,000 giveaway to the congregation, Furtick said, “I thought it would be a cool moment in the church’s history. … Not as a gimmick, not as a publicity stunt, but to get it in the DNA of our church to be a blessing to others.
They couldn’t give the money back to their church. They just had to use it to help others.
Read the stories of what people did. They’re incredible.
(Atheists who get queasy at the mention of the word “blessing” and prefer to keep their distance from people who “talk to God” may want to stay away… though I hope you don’t. See past the Christian-speak and get inspired by their actions.)
…we went to dinner, still wondering what to do with the $100. We had a really sweet waitress. Johnny asked her how her day was and she said she had been at work since 10am, and would probably be there till 1am. But she still had a great attitude! So, we decided to brighten her day, and on top of the normal tip, gave her $100!
With the $10 I got from church on Sunday at school I was able to bless a 8 year old classmate with lunch money. He did not have any lunch money.
My envelope contained $100. So I bought a GOAT! Yes, I said goat. Through a wonderful organization, Heiffer International, one struggling family will receive one goat — providing up to a gallon of milk every single day. That’s more than enough milk not only to drink, but to use to make cheese, butter or yogurt, PLUS to sell whatever’s left and buy much-needed clothes, school supplies and medicine.
Heiffer International helps children and families around the world receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant.
After the service I waited till I was in the car to open my envelope. In my envelope was a 20 dollar bill, immediately the ideas came to my head. Earlier in the service when you were giving the money out and before I even knew I had to give it away, I leaned over and told my mom i was going to give it to the first homeless person that i saw, and that exactly what I did with it. My mom and i were in the car going up to Lake Norman, we pulled off onto exit 33, and there he was. The same homeless person that we’ve seen for the past 2 years. After we gave him the money and drove away there was no doubt in my mind that that wasnt’ the right thing to do, I knew it was the right thing to do because when we handed him the money he said, “OOH GOD BLESS you kind people, thank you so much you don’t know how much this helps.” And I just wanted to say thank you so much for giving out that money becuase of that i was able to help someone’s life.
Well my friends and I all pooled our money together after the service and gave it to a guy in our senior class that was having trouble paying for his senior trip. We put the money (145 dollars) in an Elevation envelope and a note telling why we gave the money to him (we didnt tell him who it was from) and put it on his seat in his car. I was talking to him yesterday and the money came up in the conversation, he didnt know who gave him the money but he said it brightened up his whole week.
A good amount of the money was donated to other Christian groups or ministries, or trying to get other people to go to church. But most of the acts were secular in nature.
That said, the point of the project was to get people in the habit of giving to others and that’s a noble thing to do no matter the circumstances.
I hope that once they get the building, they’ll use a sizable chunk of their weekly income to continue helping the community. And by helping, I don’t mean converting them.
Atheists don’t have weekly meetings and the idea of taking in $40,000 in a week is so foreign to any atheist group, even the national ones. But I wish our groups did more for the communities we live in than we currently do.
(By the way, I’m learning that some Christians speak in ALL CAPS even on their own websites. What up with that?)
[tags]atheist, atheism, charity, donation, Elevation Church[/tags]