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    Church Funded by Core Group Vows to Give All of Their Offerings Away!

    Wow… this is a novel concept… a core group that will underwrite all the financial concerns of the church so that the offerings can be used totally in the community!  This is the first time I’ve ever seen this model try to be practiced.

    Will it work?  I don’t know… but a great idea.

    You can read more here...

    What do you think?


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    According to the Daily Herald, A new church congregation gathered for its first worship service Sunday, driven by a simple mission: to give away all of its good will offerings to people who need it. Waterfront Community Church held its service in the Schaumburg, IL High School auditorium, where they will continue to meet every Sunday at 10 a.m.

    Senior Pastor Jim Semradek told the crowd, ""I know it's crazy, but we're going to try and give all of our offerings away, so that it won't get in the way of people coming to church." Semradek was most recently a pastor at Community Christian Church, based in Naperville, and a former staff member at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington.

    Semradek added that the church's basic expenses are supported by a core of 10 families, allowing them to concentrate on the needs of the community...


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    1. Dave on Tue, October 21, 2008

      From my past experience, when a few give the most they begin to feel entitled to make decisions for the church as if it is THEIR church rather than the LORD’s church. I also know that missionaries tell me that it is unhealthy when a local church becomes dependent upon support from the states. These congregations never become healthy because they are “living on welfare” Would the same thing happen if a whole congregation was dependent upon a few donors?

    2. Leonard on Tue, October 21, 2008

      I know a church that decided to give half away.  It underpaid its staff, none remain due to simple economics. People were less motivated to give since their giving did not impact those who were leading them.  It also have very limited growth. 

      I believe to do this for the reason stated, “so it wont get in the way of people coming to church” is not really what church is about.  Style of music, time, clothing, people and a ton of other things get in the way too, should we eliminate them?

      Build a church worth giving to.  Teach people that stewardship (living under the ownership of God) is what God asks of us because it is good for us.  Be wise in your spending. 

      I am sure they have thought through this but what happens when 1 of those families or 2 of those families has a huge downturn?  Health, finance, divorce… happens a lot.  Is there a strategy to hire new staff to care for families? 

      I would love to see their plan in detail, not to criticize, it just fascinates me.

    3. Peter Hamm on Tue, October 21, 2008

      Would investing offerings in staff that connect to the community and make a difference there also be “giving it away”?

      I think it might turn out to be misguided optimism in this modern world.

    4. Gerry on Tue, October 21, 2008

      So far the cups are half full on this one!  I find this story interesting for a few reasons.

      It’s Waterfront Church, but I can’t remember where the water is around Schaumburg High School.  The Pastor, Jim Semradek, was a student of mine at Moody many years ago and I few kind of proud.

      And while ministry has tended to make me a realist, like the posters before me, I currently am preaching, excuse me, giving a series on faith from Hebrews 11. So I am trying to picture what would have happened if Noah or Abraham or Moses or Joshua, when called upon by God to act in faith, would have responded by saying “Experience tells me this is a bad idea that won’t work.” and walked away from the opportunity.

    5. paul on Tue, October 21, 2008

      Yea, I find this fascinating. We are tying to figure out how to meet the needs of our community more and give more away… but like previous posts… something doesn’t seem right here. But honestly, if this was God’s leading, more power to them.

    6. John G on Tue, October 21, 2008

      I think it is useful to segment the offering in the manner suggested. Those who are strongly committed to the church and its mission give privately to support the running of the church, while the general offerings are given away. Discipleship begins before a person becomes a Christian. A non-Christian visitor is more likely to become a cheerful giver if his or her money is clearly going to a worthy cause, rather than going to pay for the lights and smoke machine.

    7. che of teak furniture on Tue, October 21, 2008

      But what happens if the core families giving to the church stop giving? Will they have to get their funds from the donations? This must be established first before they decide.

      And also, I hope churches will be able to get people to donate their time and effort to help the needy whether financially or emotionally.

    8. Dan Harding on Wed, October 22, 2008

      WOW! I am perplexed at the comments given here! Even if this goes against OUR desire to be paid and OUR fear that we won’t have enough money for our institutions, wouldn’t it at least be worth a go?!

      If an unbeliever visits your church, should they feel obliged to give money so the pastor can be paid

      or could it be positive that they feel compelled to give their money for the welfare of someone who needs it?

      Seems to me there is a difference between giving to an institution (paying the pastor) and giving to a mission (providing for a community)

    9. Peter Hamm on Thu, October 23, 2008

      Dan Harding writes: “Seems to me there is a difference between giving to an institution (paying the pastor) and giving to a mission (providing for a community)”

      Actually, that is one fault I could find with this thinking. What I believe is this. As a paid pastor in my church I am part of the mission of Jesus in this part of the world, and every cent spent on me is mission. If not, then I’m doing something wrong.

    10. Jim Semradek on Fri, October 24, 2008

      I love the discussion…and agree the model is differnt…but not too different from Acts 2.  I know it sounds radical…but here is what happened our first week.  A bunch of new people raised $4300 for a single mother in the following condiation:  working through a two year program to get herself back on her feet….has a 10 year old daughter who has Cerebral Palsy…was living in a “crime infested” area and praying for a change. 

      I pray this offering model is simply an answer from God to help love people in their time of need.

    11. Tony Myles on Mon, October 27, 2008

      So wild!  This is where I went to high school… had there been a church giving money away every week when I was growing up I would be there every week.

      Seriously - great idea.

    12. David on Mon, October 27, 2008

      Truly a fascinating idea that has to be allowed to be developed.  Yes there are potential issues in the model because of the inherent sinful nature that even the most mature church leader possesses.

      A couple of questions I have regarding the model. 

      Will other mature believers who join the congregation be allowed to give to the basic needs of the ministry?

      How do you decide who receives the money that is collected in the offering?

      Is there a system in place to ensure that the efforts to meet physical needs opens doors to meet spiritual needs? 

      Is the emphasis in the offering during the service, worship, or fundraising to help an individual or oganization? (Of course the same question should be asked of traditional church models)

    13. Dave Ingland on Mon, October 27, 2008

      I’m with Pastor Jim on this one! We have a very similar vision for how we’ll handle the budget at our church plant here in Sacramento. My role will be to lead the ministry as a bi-vocational pastor with all of our offerings being used to impact the community and reach out in love to others whether they come to a gathering or not. we will be intentionally small and raise up leaders from the beginning that may be called by God to plant more churches with the same vision. We’ll be mobile and resourceful and encourage creativity. We are modeling ourselves from Acts 2 and living as the church, not going to church.

      We haven’t launched yet therefore I have no idea whether this will be alive in a year or five years from now, but I believe that this is how God has asked us to live and relate with our community and therefore I am moving forward in faith and what I believe to be obedience to his calling upon me.

      I am so encouraged to know that this vision is already being shared with other leaders in other places. I think the more we stop treating church leadership as a corporation-style entity and start learning to lead by faith and example, that we can see an awesome revival through the miraculous things of God in a skeptical world.

    14. Rick McGinniss on Mon, October 27, 2008

      I love the concept of a church using a large portion of its offerings to directly and dramatically impact individual and community needs beyond its own ministry.  I also see great value in funding the ministry of “church” as it is. And I’m convinced that it doesn’t need to be an either/or. Here’s why:

      The average church attender gives 2-3%. If that were raised to an average 10% (or more), churches would be fully-funded AND be able to practice radical generosity - collectively, as the People of God - in their communities and beyond. One study in 2000 determined that if American Christians had given a tithe of their income, an additional $140B would have been available for ministry in just that year alone. In our church, for example, the income would likely triple, giving us a way to do both (plus, possibly help people who can’t give because they are in debt - google “Debt Liquidation Revival” for a truly radical concept!)

      This is why, after 14 years of approaching financial stewardship from a “for mature believers only” perspective, we’re blowing up our paradigm. We’ve decided from day one we’re going to raise the value of generosity with people and teach and train them in how to follow the biblical model of give/save/live (to quote Andy Stanley) for their own good, the good of the Kingdom and the good of the world. (No more fund-raising campaigns, either).

      Will it work? I don’t know. I just know something has to change in this area.

      In any case, best wishes to you, Pastor Jim, and your core group as you rock your world with generosity!

    15. greg eichelberger on Thu, October 30, 2008

      Wow!!! It is so encouraging to hear your feedback. I am the Arts Pastor for Waterfront, and I have very much enjoyed reading the comments posted here. Please know that we don’t have all the answers, we are humbly attempting to obey God’s call to remove what can be a significant stumbling block for a skeptical world.

      We actually do believe in the standard church financial model, and we do not support an us/them mentality at all. We just decided that we are just crazy enough to try this : )

      We do provide opportunities for our congregation, individually, to earmark their giving to operational expenses, or to support a staff member, but only in response to an inquiry, such as, “How do you pay the bills?” but we never allow that support to mix with the weekly offering. Like I tell people, if you put it in the basket, we will give it away. That keeps it pure. And we have strict limits on salary and such, so, having met those goals, we will thank the individual, but steer it back to the Sunday offering anyway.

      We have a team that stewards the money we give away, and they take it very seriously! We don’t just “hand it out.” Check our website at to learn more.

      Thanks again for the prayers and support, we hope to reach and bless people that we might not have otherwise!

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