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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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Boom. Final fishing trip. Grateful. A nice way to end my 3 month sabbatical. #catchandrelease twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 20 hours ago
  • Christians: May we be guided by the Scriptures that remind us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God" and not, "Seek first the kingdom of America." || 21 hours ago
  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 3 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 3 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 3 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 6 days ago