Congregants at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, cheered and applauded their pastor Sunday after learning that each family present at worship services had been gifted $100 to cover their own needs or “pay it forward” to anyone else they chose.
“Today, we’re flipping the script. Today we’re reversing what we would normally do,” said Travis Eades, the lead minister at the church where popular Christian author Max Lucado also serves as teaching minister.
“Every week, we remind ourselves, we don’t give to the Church; we give through the Church. And friend, I want you to know, you are the Church. You are the Church and you know needs that we will never know. And you can reach people that we would never be able to reach,” Eades added.
The church reportedly gave out 762 envelopes at two services and expects to distribute another 60 more as more families attended church than they planned on Sunday.
Eades urged families to pray about how to steward the money.
“It’s not about the money. It is about the call on our lives to take what we have and to use it where we live, work, learn and play and to meet those needs," Eades explained. "We’re going to continue to invest globally. We’re going to continue to take our resources and give aid to places like Afghanistan and Haiti. We’re going to continue to help when disaster strikes here domestically. We’re going to continue to invest in our city. But today, what we’re doing [is], we’re investing where we live, work, learn and play. The best way for us to invest in that is to invest in you because you know those needs."
“If you are in need, then this is for you," he continued. "But if that’s not you, then this is for you to pay it forward and to bless somebody else that only you could possibly know about."
Eades noted that the gesture on Sunday was a bid to inspire “radical generosity," a biblical command he said was practiced by the early Church.
"We’re really reflecting the radical generosity that has been shown to us,” he said.
“God, through the giving of His one and only son, could He have given any more? He gave us the blood of Jesus — the most valuable commodity in all of the universe. So, we talk about radical generosity in those terms, that when we give, really all we’re doing is stewarding what God has already placed in our hands. We want to be a people known for that, for radical generosity. We want to be a people known for putting God first in every area of our life … including our finances,” he said.