What if somebody handed you a check for $500 and said, “do something good with this”?  What would you do?  What if that somebody was your church?  That’s exactly what happened to members of Chicago’s LaSalle Street Church.  In September, 320 of the church’s regular attendees were given $500 each and instructed to “do something positive for anything or anyone, including themselves,” The Associated Press reported.

The pastor preached a sermon on the parable of the talents, a biblical story often used to urge Christians to give their time and talent and take risks to serve God.  She then informed them of the plan to reverse tithe, the church taking 10% of the proceeds from a $1.6 million sale of some property and giving it back to the congregation.

Pastor Laura Truax told ABC she felt called to divide 10 percent of the profits among the church’s members because it would make “real for people the thing that God does every day… hands over the world to us and asks us to do God’s business.”

The idea was to get people thinking creatively about missions, to give them agency and perhaps come up with new ways the church could be making a difference in its community.  It asked each member to do some spiritual discernment on where they saw needs and how best to make their $500 have an impact.  People were encouraged to share the stories of how they used the $500 as a way of jump starting the conversation about what could happen to the other $1.44 million.

Not surprisingly, some folks simply endorsed their checks back to the church, while others never cashed them.  But the vast majority took the money and did something good.  You can read about some of those stories here in the Chicago Tribune Article, “Church gives congregants $500 each to do good” along with the Associated Press report.

As I read the story, I wondered what would happen if something like this happened here at River Road Church.  Would the vast majority of us simply endorse the check back to the church, maybe thinking the church would do a better job figuring out the needs than we would?  Or would we take advantage of the opportunity to have conversations with our family, at our workplace, with our neighbors and see if we don’t get passionate about something and find ourselves investing something much more valuable than $500: ourselves.

What would you do if your church handed you $500 and told you to do something good?  Would you simply hand it back saying, “I don’t have time for this”?  Or would you take up the challenge to multiply the good and perhaps even begin to rethink what you do with all of the resources handed to you every day, using them to bless others and make a difference in their lives.  What would you do?  What will you do?

Listen to Pastor Laura Truax discuss her unusual move and how congregants have opted to spend their share.