One of the functions of the church is to stimulate passion and purpose in the life of its members. There are many different ways in which that can occur: study, worship, fellowship, projects, etc. Last week a few of us on the staff identified a rather unusual action we’ve noted in a few congregations: giving the membership an offering rather than “taking an offering” from them.

When I was a pastor in another state, about once a year I’d take money out of the offering plate ($20 bills I’d placed there) and hand them to children during the “Children’s Time” in worship—and ask them to think about a way to bless/help/do some good to someone or to give to help a special need they could find. I asked them to talk with their parents and other adults about what they might choose to do with their $20, and that in about two weeks I was going to ask them to tell us what they did with their “gift money.” They could also just write me a note and tell me how it was used.

The stories we got back were amazing—thoughtful and creative.

We wondered what might happen if we gave each adult $500 to spend in some caring way…

Made in the image of God, each of us has been “wired” to be energized by a worthy cause or a genuine purpose. We thrive when we have an engaging goal; we experience lingering joy when we attach ourselves to useful and constructive actions.

Some people call such a “find” their mission (Latin for mission, or what “sends us”) or propels us; others identify it as their passion (Latin literally for “suffering”—but denoting a worthwhile expenditure of energy and emotion); for some folks, it’s identified as a purpose, which suggests, from Middle English, to “propose,” or “resolve” something. Whatever words we employ to describe passion and purpose, it’s the engine that drives life into meaning and value.

Guess what: The Endowment Board has just “gifted us” with $100,000.00 to be spent in 2015 on “mission causes,” and has asked your Mission Board to prayerfully think about what to spend it on—for Christ’s sake!

Do you have a suggestion you’d like to share with them about how to use these funds? Look at their list of projects and share a prayerful thought—for Christ’s sake!