What would you do if your church gave you your offering money back? Journey Church, located in Bend, Ore., decided to try something a little different during their Sunday service yesterday. They passed out envelopes to members of the congregation with cash inside.
Lead Pastor Keith Kirkpatrick told The Christian Post that he got together with the church’s leadership team and asked, “What if we took an offering and then put it back into the hands of the people?”
Starting on the first Sunday in December, Journey began taking up an “Orange Offering.” Church leaders didn’t tell those in the congregation what it would be for.
Kirkpatrick said orange is the theme color for their church. For them yellow represents faith, red represents hope and orange is love. So they put out a large orange present for people to put their offerings in. After two weeks, the church of just over 200 people raised $6,200.
Yesterday, during Sunday’s service they gave it all back to church members, including the children. Adults got $40 a person, teens received $20 and elementary-aged children got $15. Even preschoolers got $5.
Journey staff gave only two stipulations for how members could spend their cash. Number one: They had to pray about it before they gave it away. The second requirement was that they actually had to give it away. It could be to any cause or person of their choosing, but it had to go toward helping someone in the community.
The church is only two years old and its main outreach is to new Christians or people who haven’t been to church in many years. Kirkpatrick said the offering was really to get the congregation to learn how to be a generous church. “Often we pursue church as a destination, but the Bible talks about church as the people. We want to engage people,” he said.
When asked if he was worried attendees might just take the money and run, Kirkpatrick said it’s definitely something people could do and would be allowed to do, but they are trusting people will use it for something bigger than themselves.
He said he was also nervous about what people might think of the money being divided up, especially those who gave more to the offering. But so far the response has been positive.
Many in the congregation have told him that deciding who to give the money to has been very difficult. Kirkpatrick and his family are still trying to decide who to give their money to as well.
One woman in the congregation gave her money to a homeless man, and in the process she invited him to church.
Liquid Church in New Jersey did a similar offering earlier this year. They had a “Reverse Offering,” and gave away a Sunday collection of $30,000 in cash to all in attendance.
They gave their congregants the freedom to “invest” the money any way they wanted. The church also set up a website as a way for churchgoers to brainstorm other uses for the money.
Some of the families at Liquid Church decided to take their money to bring relief to a Manville, N.J. neighborhood devastated by the flooding of Hurricane Irene.
Both churches invested their money in the local community where they serve. Kirkpatrick said they saw that the same global problems were also happening on a local level, and they knew they could take steps to meet those needs and invest in those around them. He said they wanted people to know there was a connection to God through what they did, and “if people had a need spiritually” they could connect with them.