The Bless Back Project

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?)

(via ChurchRater)


[tags]atheist, atheism, charity, donation, Elevation Church[/tags]

  • Kate

    Like I’ve told Erik before…if all Christians were like that, maybe people would like them more! Or even ask questions like, “Hey, you seem really awesome. Tell me more…”

    That is one seriously cool pastor. I bet he gets a thumbs up from Jesus on that one! Too bad more pastors (and Christians) can’t be like him…

  • http://mollishka.blogspot.com mollishka

    By the way, I’m learning that some Christians speak in ALL CAPS even on their own websites. What up with that?

    Because GOD spoke in ALL CAPS. It’s the THING TO DO.

  • Chad

    hey man, just wanted to let you know (as an elevation attender) that Elevation gives 10% of every tithe taken (and consequently of ALL money’s gathered) and gives it to 5 local organizations – habitat being one of them, and another being an organization that helps unwed teen mothers get through high school and scholarshiped to college. listen to the second week’s message on the website or itunes and you will hear Furtick talk about dedicating to give 7 different teen mothers money for clothes, college, gas, and home bills.

    the gospel is about so much more than heaven and hell…the gospel is about the here and now.

  • Karen

    Terrific idea!

  • Maria

    Like I’ve told Erik before…if all Christians were like that, maybe people would like them more! Or even ask questions like, “Hey, you seem really awesome. Tell me more…”

    That is one seriously cool pastor. I bet he gets a thumbs up from Jesus on that one! Too bad more pastors (and Christians) can’t be like him…

    I totally agree! I think it’s great what they are doing. It’s about time

  • http://misanthropicatheist.blogspot.com/ Rasputin

    That is absolutely phenomenal.

    May the Flying Spaghetti Monster touch them with his noodly appendage!

  • http://starseyer.blogspot.com Mikayla

    Those were some creative ideas. Especially the goat :p

  • Kate

    Chad – rock on!!! ;) We (friendly atheists/humanists/agnostics/etc.) love what you’re doing. Your church definitely has the right idea. I wish other churches could take this challenge and do good in the world, rather than boast $100,000 sound systems and the like.

  • http://www.drzach.net Zachary Moore

    I’m with you there. This sounds like something I might be able to introduce to the North Texas Church of Freethought

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    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.

    I’d be fine with the converting too, as long as they’re converting them to the kind of Christianity that does these kinds of things. The world needs more people like this regardless of what religion (or non-religion) they are a part of.

  • Pingback: Wolves in sheep’s clothing - the emerging movement « bored beyond belief

  • Jen

    I did something similair to that when I was in my teen church group. We were each given $25 and told the parable of the Talents, and we were supposed to use it to help people. It was pretty cool, and I don’t think anyone in our small group did anything religious.

    That said, Heifer International isn’t entirely clear on what the donations go to- they don’t necessarily use the money for what it is donated for (ie: it is put into a pool and used for whatever they want). Here is a link for those interested in what the Charity Navigator says about HI. I am a little shocked to see how much their president makes per year.

  • http://www.friendlychristian.com Bill Cecchini

    Helping, serving, giving, encouraging…I love it. This is what Christianity is (supposed to be) all about.

    I exhale when Christians make the news for POSITIVE things (yes, I just wrote in all caps).

    It’s about darn time :-) Elevators – you guys rock!

    Bill
    (The FriendlyChristian)

  • Kate

    Hmmm, I thought Heifer International was pretty legit. As in, you can buy an animal (or half of an animal) for someone. Erik bought animals for people last Christmas, and his mom got me a sheep. I’ve been to their main place in MA and it’s pretty neat.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    I am a little shocked to see how much their president makes per year.

    Comparing it to the salaries of the presidents of other major charities listed on that site, it seems to be about average. In fact, it was quite a bit lower than several others I found (some of which were in the $300-400,000 range.) I suppose the rationale is that you have to pay this much to get someone who will do the job well and not lose them to another charity willing to pay more.

    I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s probably the reasoning behind it.

  • Darryl

    I suppose the rationale is that you have to pay this much to get someone who will do the job well and not lose them to another charity willing to pay more.
    I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s probably the reasoning behind it.

    Yep, you’re right Mike.

    D.


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