By Mark A. Taylor
In a day when physical needs are multiplying and some non-Christians ridicule or distrust the church, extravagant giving by Christians is sure to get attention. So it’s no surprise that Waterfront Community Church in Schaumburg, Illinois, has received national coverage. The church gives away each week’s offering! (See this week’s “Buzz.”)
But the church didn’t begin the practice to get publicity. According to “servant of pastoral care” Jim Semradek, Waterfront’s strategy is simply to point people to Jesus.
In an interview on K-LOVE radio, he said, “Money is a tremendous vehicle to help people consider God.” He believes the current downturn in the economy presents “a great opportunity” for the church in America “to consider how to use our resources to help people fall in love with Jesus.”
Most readers of CHRISTIAN STANDARD attend churches that can’t give away every week’s offerings. But every congregation can decide how to use money to demonstrate the love of Jesus.
“There’s something going on in our society where money is becoming a key piece,” Semradek observed. Now, when every front page and every newscast is dominated by talk about money, churches have much to add to the conversation.
We’d like to hear what your church is saying and how your congregation is responding to the needs of your community—even when offerings fall off.
“When giving declines, ministries to the poor are one of the first things to be cut,” Tom Sine, founder of Mustard Seed Associates, wrote in an article posted at LeadershipJournal.net. He suggested an opposite policy, urging congregations to increase their giving by 10 percent to those most seriously impacted by the recession, “even if giving starts declining.”
“We’re trying to do something radical,” Semradek told K-LOVE. All of us can consider remarkable ways to show Jesus to people struggling with finances. Many of them are cutting back on spending because they’ve lost their incomes. But many more of us still have our jobs and our salaries. What if we cut back too, and then gave away the money we saved?
Semradek sees possibilities for Christians in communities reeling from the recession. “It’s going to be a fun season,” he said. His optimism simply reflects the apostle Paul’s challenge: “We must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).
The Message puts it this way, “You’re far happier giving than getting.” Waterfront Community Church, and others who will follow their example, are discovering how true that is.