A little over a year ago, the Missions Committee offered a small way we can impact our community. They sponsored “piggy banks” for each Sunday school class asking for loose change offerings to benefit God’s Pantry.
This Lexington-based organization distributes more than 15 million pounds of grocery products each year to Kentucky’s neediest population in the central and eastern portions of our state. They accomplish this task through a network of more than 350 non-profit grassroots agencies in 50 counties on the front line in our local fight against hunger. Through these partnerships they have been able to reach more than 159,000 individuals annually.
Most notably, our church has used the large blue tubs for direct contribution of non-perishable food products. This is still a valid and very visible way to give. Yet, because of the purchasing power when buying in bulk, the most economical way to make contributions has been financial.
By using this method, God’s Pantry is able to purchase up to 10 times the value of a financial gift. That means every dime has the purchasing power of one dollar. For every dollar given, it is like $10.
For the first six months of 2008, our loose change offering in Sunday school has been $742–translating to a real impact of $7,500 in food–all due to just a portion of the change previously taking up room in our pockets and purses on Sunday morning.
Jesus once fed over 5,000 with the meager offering of five loaves and a two fish (Matthew 14:15 ff). Soon afterward, he fed 4,000 with seven loaves of bread and only a few small fish (Matthew 15:32 ff). Both times, the offering wasn’t much and both times its scrawny provision was unwisely judged by the disciples as insufficient.
We often are not generous because we feel some grand and sweeping gesture is necessary. But, if we wait and give until our name can be engraved on the side of the building, we probably will never get started. In God’s economy of responsible stewardship, we must give. It’s not an option, but an essential part of what it means to follow Christ.
Despite soaring gas prices, losing investments, mortgage scares and across the board increases in food and energy, we cannot be tempted away from our duty to give. In the hands of the masterful Creator, even chump change makes us champions. You don’t have to be a Wall Street guru for a high return. You just have to look (and give) in the right places.
Mark Johnson is senior minister at Central Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky.