In the spring of 2015, Springdale Church of the Nazarene in Cincinnati, Ohio, set out to reconnect with our community.
Springdale is an 85-year-old church with a strong history of supporting world missions. We did not want to lose that world missions emphasis. At the same time, we realized our local mission funding was greatly lacking.
So, we established a strategy to raise funds for both local and world missions. We now take two major offerings a year. The annual Faith Promise offering supports our world mission efforts and takes place each October. The second o ering called “Offering for Others,” takes place in May. For this o ering, we place 200 envelopes on a large board, numbered 1–200, with each number representing a dollar amount (#5 is $5.00, #52 is $52.00, etc.). We then ask attendees to take one envelope and give that amount as an Offering for Others. If all the envelopes are taken and used, this will mean an additional $20,000.00 is available for local missions.
This has engaged our people in participating in the local mission of the church, since no one is giving more than $199.00. The lower numbered envelopes are usually picked up by younger congregants. The larger numbers are sometimes picked up by a softball team or Sunday School class, so it is not a large amount for those who are already stretched in their finances. The extra $20,000 allows us to partner with individuals, non-profit organizations, and businesses.
Last year, 29 transactions were made through the Offering for Others account. Some of these transactions involved individuals, but most were organizations doing great Kingdom work. For instance, we partner with a local coffee shop run by Chris Bean, who is a missionary to the University of Cincinnati. His ministry provides great Christian influence, and his mentorship is changing lives.
Another partner is a local mechanic. Tim is a former drug addict turned Jesus follower. He started Mr. Godwrench, a for-pro t organization with a non-profit division to help single mothers and young adults with car repairs. To date, he has given away 57 cars! Some of these cars were donated by members of our congregation. We help get the cars in top shape with donations from the Offering for Others. These cars are a game changer for the recipients, often making the di erence between having transportation to get to a job or not being able to have a job.
In addition, Mr. Godwrench and his team of volunteers set up oil changing stations in church parking lots and do free oil changes. Last year, over 120 cars received a free oil change at our church on a cold, rainy Saturday. Each car went through an inspection. Fluids were lled and tires were checked for the proper amount of air. Tears owed down the faces of some of the car owners as they got back into their cars following the free work.
This ministry is done several times a year in Ohio and Kentucky. It is a beautiful and generous expression of love and concern for the “least of these.” Supplies for this event are made possible in part by the Offering for Others.
We also partner with Tri-Country SOUL Ministries, which manages a food pantry on our site (SOUL is an acronym for Serving Others Unto the Lord). A clothing room on the upper level is available for families in need to shop for apparel at no cost. Just over 1,200 people per month receive food through this ministry. Some of our neighbors would not eat if it were not for the SOUL Pantry. Our partnership puts food on the shelves. Most of the volunteers come from our congregation. The labor and funding for a recent remodel of their facility came almost entirely from our local church.
Additionally, the Offering for Others has helped us to give aid to a family who lost their home in a re. We supported our local police department with a need it had. I had the privilege of giving a $1,000.00 check to our District Superintendent to be used at his discretion to help pastors in need.
It is a great feeling to meet someone who operates a drug rehabilitation center and end the conversation with, “Hey, we want to partner with you. Send me your address, and I will send a check.” We do not have to look hard to nd places to invest. Our people send in names of individuals and organizations they know and ask us to consider assisting them. Some of these partnerships involve volunteer service in addition to financial aid.
These partnerships have been life-giving for our church and for the recipients. With the Offering for Others, we can now fund local needs in our community. In the past, we might have heard of a need but would not have had funding for it in our budget. Now, when we learn of a need that fits our mission, we jump at the opportunity to participate.
It is no surprise that God has blessed these efforts. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).
The church is living in abundance. Finances have never been stronger, and attention to outreach is on the rise. We continue to look for ways to invest in our neighborhood and surrounding communities. As I write this, a community north of us was hit by a tornado. No doubt, the resources we have will be used to assist people in their loss. We will continue partnering with organizations and ministries that are improving life for individuals and families. Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). The Offering for Others is allowing us to be Jesus to the “least of these.” God is giving us a front row seat to witness transformed lives.
DARYL BLANK is the lead pastor at Springdale Church of the Nazarene in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has pastored churches in Michigan, Tennessee, and Ohio.