Eugene Cho

105 million dollars

our church’s leadership team and pastors have been intensely busy in the past month reviewing this past year’s budget and simultaneously putting together a budget proposal to our church membership.  it is true that one’s budget should be seen as a ‘moral document’ (jim wallis).  i’ve always believed that one of the most substantive ways to discern a person’s values, worldview, and depth was by asking to see their personal budget.  perhaps, it is for this reason that one of “the don’t do’s” in life or ministry is to be too inquisitive about folks’ personal finances.  two commitments my family and i have made to help us remain aligned with our stewardship values are 1) to share our 1040 tax report with at least one other person or family, and 2) to publicly share (or make available) our ‘charitable giving’ summary with our church membership.  the latter is something that the entire leadership team and pastors do together – not with the motivation to boast but to model an attempt to live generously and convey to our church community that we are not going to ask them to do something that we ourselves will not strive to do. 

i still recall the first six months of our church when we began meeting at the vineyard church in the seattle u-district.  they were very generous but coming up with the $200 monthly rent was honestly, difficult at times.  during that season, i was trying to feed my family working as a part-time custodian; seattle was experiencing the painful reality of the dot-com craze and implosion; folks were getting laid off left and right; quest was then not collecting regular offering; and we were lucky to have a dozen people join us for bible study.  as i look back, i’m humbled that God had chosen to use a handful of people to not only bring together a church community but what i believe to be a mini-movement within the larger movement of the Kingdom of God.  it’s taken us some time but it feels good to finally give our pastors and staff a decent raise, to provide medical benefits to our full-time employees, and to remain committed to appropriating about 25% of our income to churchplanting and global missions. 

while feeling pretty positive about our church’s budget and stewardship philosophy, i was stunned to come across news of a megachurch in florida that has recently broken a record for the most funds raised (pledged) in a capital campaign.  i have no idea what they were raising the funds for because i was simply stunned by the figure:  they raised in pledge the amount of 105 million dollars!

…Calvary Chapel in Ft. Lauderdale has received pledges totaling $105 million, believed to be the largest amount every raised by a US church…Chicago’s Willow Creek Church…raised more than $80 million in the 2000 Chapter 2 campaign… [full article]

here’s my commentary:  that’s a lot of money

Filed under: christianity, church, emerging church

5 Responses

  1. David Park says:

    Love your commitment to openness and putting your money where your mouth is. I hope it is something that many pastors and leaders would be encouraged to do in order to live authentic lives. Thanks for your example and your leadership.

  2. Blake says:

    Ditto to the previous post. 🙂 I deeply admire and find inspiration in your genuinity. (Is that even a word? Heh, I guess it is now. 😉 )

  3. e cho says:

    thanks. trying my best. but it’s amazing how selfish i can still be. i guess it’s a lifelong journey to learn how to be more giving and generous.

  4. Mark says:

    I don’t know if I like reading this or not. I must admit that hearing a church raise 105 mil makes me feel frustrated that we have struggled to come up with 150K. I like you have always transparent with my salary and giving trying to make the same statement “we wont ask you to do something we wont do” but I find that as people come into our community who have never been part of sucha thing as church /faith communities faithful giving is incredibly hard to grasp (especially when they are typically living at 120% of their income) . I have a friend who always tells me that if you aren’t struggling with sexual relationships, heresy, and finances in a congregation then your dealing with the wrong people. – your milage may vary 🙂

  5. m@ says:

    I agree, Mark — and even more ironic to your last sentence is that many people keep financial struggles closest to their chest. I think I’ve been in many a situation where a pastor would give a story about how someone would tithe and, as a result, some sort of monetary blessing would come about, saving him/her from financial ruin. A great story, but it sorta distorts the purpose of giving “with good cheer”, doesn’t it? For someone who doesn’t entirely understand the concept of tithing, he/she may respond to that by saying “why should I tithe? I’m not in dire straits!”

    That said, if we really do adhere to the belief that God will not give us more than we can handle, then whatever needs your church has/will have will be met in full, even if the bottom line doesn’t reflect that.

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"He must become greater; I must become less." - John 3:30 We have to remind ourselves of this truth every day lest we forget:

Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant.

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The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.
200.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
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