What If People Only Gave What They Think Your Ministry Is Worth?

by Jac La Tour, ECCU Communications Manager
(Originally published as a post within ECCU’s former e-publication, The Buzz.)

In his posting a few weeks ago, ECCU Executive Vice President Mark Johnson mentioned two of the values that guide our work here at “your ministry banking resource.” You may not be familiar with the full list:

We value healthy, God-honoring relationships.

We value a passion for work that produces eternal value.

We value innovation and creativity, and
welcome the necessary ambiguity that follows.

We value individual and team accountability.

We value the uniqueness of every person in our organization.

We value life balance.

I appreciate each of these values and the privilege of working with people who pursue them intentionally. The third one is my favorite, I think because it opens the door to unconventional thinking.

I thought of innovation and creativity when I read this CNN.com headline last week: “Café owner thrives with no-pricing policy.” Apparently, a guy in Kettering, Ohio, responded to an economy-driven drop in business by allowing patrons to decide how much to pay for their meals.

Technically, I suppose ministries already take this approach. Giving is at the discretion of the giver. And though there’s probably some correlation between the amount given and the perceived value of what the giver has received—we are, after all, human—few would endorse that correlation as a biblically appropriate motivation for giving.

It seems there’s a more important takeaway from the café owner’s story for those of us in ministry. When business as usual changed, he had the courage to consider a radical idea. Do you?

One example comes to mind. The mission statement for Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, says that they seek to reach “every individual” in their community, but the church had been unable to grow numerically for years due to lack of space. Their website tells the next part of the story: 

“The obvious solution would be to buy more property and build a bigger building. However, this would require spending an amount of money that none of the leaders feel peace about spending. This lack of peace primarily springs from a desire to give more to the poor who are suffering around the world.

“The idea of building an outdoor sanctuary rather than an auditorium sprung from a desire to save millions of dollars. It came from a belief that God would rather we spend that money in other ways. It comes from a thought that God would receive more glory from seeing His children sacrifice for others—namely, those around the world who lack basic necessities. The idea then evolved into developing the property into more of a park-like setting that could be enjoyed by the church and community throughout the week. In this way, we would be giving to our community as well as to the needy around the world.”

This radical idea is now called the Tierra Rejada Building Project.

When you act on radical ideas, there’s always a risk. The story is still being written at Cornerstone Community Church. Meanwhile, back in Ohio, the café’s sales and customer count are up between 50 and 100 percent.

Radical.

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