Sunday, October 28, 2007
Very Cool Idea
For an example of a church that's getting it right, check this story out:

Elevation Church in south Charlotte -- with no home of its own -- funded $40,000 worth of kind acts around the city last week.

The church, celebrating services today as always on high school campuses, gave the equivalent of a typical Sunday collection back to its congregation last week.

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.


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.

"Now we have people talking about how they can be generous in their everyday lives."

In some ways, Elevation seems like a typical contemporary attractional church (and I'm a little disturbed by the title of their current fundraising campaign "Dominate"), but this kind of thing demonstrates that they are sensitive to the fact that God doesn't just bless us for our own sake. He blesses us to be a blessing. This is at the heart of the kind of missional theology that also drives the emerging church.

You can read stories of some of the things church members did with their money here. Here's a few examples:

• With Furtick's charge to "get radical," Barry Bertram wasn't sure how, after opening his envelope to find $5. Then the tennis pro decided to take $5 he got from every lesson he taught last week. When clients learned what he was doing, some added an additional five bucks. Ending the week with $475, Bertram plans to donate it to Habitat for Humanity. He wants to hand over the original $5 to the beneficiary family -- and ask them to use it to do something for someone else.

• When Jennifer Rinaldo received the $1,000 at last week's Providence High service, the stay-at-home mom who sells products for a health and wellness company knew exactly what she would do. She had been looking for a way to inspire a friend, a divorced mother of two, to develop a career. Now Rinaldo will use the church money to pay her friend's airfare, registration and hotel at a job training conference.

• A recipient wrote on the Web site how her friends went grocery shopping for her with their church money, and how the gesture came at a critical time: She is behind on her rent and utility bills. "I have never felt so blessed," she wrote.

I hope that this won't be just a one-time stunt, but will truly become a way of life for the church and the people in it. Signs are definitely good. According to one Elevation member who posted on the Friendly Atheist blog, Elevation dedicates 10% of its budget to local charities. He also commented "the gospel is about so much more than heaven and hell…the gospel is about the here and now."

If I didn't know better, I'd say someone at Elevation has been reading a little Brian McLaren or Rob Bell. :-)

Anyhow, well done Elevation!

via Friendly Atheist

posted by Mike Clawson at 7:13 PM | Permalink |


At 10/30/2007 03:04:00 PM, Blogger Chad

no bell or mclaren - just Jesus. And yes - if you listen to the second sermon in the Dominate series you will find Furtick unfolding our Church's dedication to our community. BTW, why does the name Dominate scare you?

-Chad (same poster from Friendly Atheist that you referred to)


At 10/30/2007 04:12:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Hey Chad... glad to see you've been taking the words of Jesus seriously! :) If you haven't read them, you might be interested to know that guys like Bell and McLaren talk about gospel's "here and now" implications as well. Though of course they got it be listening to Jesus too! :)

Anyhow, "Dominate" seems like a poor choice of label for a campaign that is supposed to be about blessing your community. To the folks in your church it might make sense, because Pastor Furtick is able to explain it to you. But to an outsider it's going to sound a little scary. No one wants to be "dominated" by anyone, much less by a church. And the Church has done enough "dominating" throughout its history thru Crusades, Inquisitions, etc. that I don't think we'd really want to bring those associations to mind again, do you?

As an example of how non-Christians are likely to misunderstand your intent with that word, you might want to check out this post.

Just some friendly advice,