At Gold Creek Community Church, pastors took a risk and banked on their congregation being industrious. In June, the pastors gave away $10,000 in $100 bills with one caveat: Everyone who took the money had to find a way to invest it and bring back a profit at the end of the summer.
On Sunday, the pastors discovered that their faith paid off.
Through bake sales and garage sales, savvy use of Craigslist and an eye for a good deal, church members slowly made the money grow.
“We had just over $50,000 returned,” said Larry Ehoff, executive co-pastor. “We had no idea what would happen, but we’re pleased with the results.”
Ehoff and other pastors at the 2,000-strong Mill Creek church took a cue from a Biblical parable when the church hit a rough financial patch. The parable is about a master who gave money to three servants.
Last year, a bank approved financing for the church’s building project, but later backed out during the height of the nationwide financial crisis, pastor Dan Kellogg said.
With some of the work started, church leaders had to figure out a way to get it done.
They intend to use the $50,000 from the investment challenge to finish grading and paving a parking lot. Meanwhile, the church is looking for another bank to finance the larger building project.
“We’re just going to get as far as we can with this $50,000” Kellogg said.
Ehoff and Kellogg are thrilled with a five-fold return, but those profits don’t show the whole story. In addition to 100 envelopes each containing a $100 bill that were given away in June, the church gave away 250 empty envelopes.
Church members who asked for empty envelopes used their own $100 to invest, Ehoff said.
Some people who took $100 bills never intended to invest the money, he said.
“We had people show up that day that we’d never seen before,” Ehoff said. That’s because The Herald published a story about the project the day before the giveaway, he said.
“One man came to me and said, ‘I need an envelope — actually, I need two envelopes,’” Ehoff said. “So he took $200. We knew that sort of thing would probably happen, but we were trusting God.”
Other church members made up for those who never returned the investment, Ehoff said.
Mark Raby used his $100 on an old amplifier he found on Craigslist. He sold it for a small profit, then bought another one to sell. Last Sunday, Raby gave his original $100 back to the church, plus $400 more.
Jobless for months, Raby said he could have used the $100 from the church for his own gain. Instead, Raby wishes he would have been able to return more money to the church on Sunday. Like the industrious servant in the Biblical parable, Raby believes God will reward his stewardship with much more than $100.
Two days after Raby gave the $500 to Ehoff and the other pastors, he flew to Chicago for a job interview.
Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422, email@example.com.
The inspiration: The parable of the talents
Before a wealthy master left for a trip, he gave money to three of his servants. To the first he gave five talents, to the second he gave two talents and to the third he gave one talent. While the master was away, the first servant invested the money and earned five more talents. The second servant invested the money and earned two more talents. The third servant, worried that he would lose his single talent, buried it in the ground. When the master returned, he praised the first and second servants, but cast out the third servant for failing to wisely invest the money.
Source: Matthew 25:14-30
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