Sunday, December 14, 2008

To each as they have need. No, really.

Tonight at the Sunday gathering of Community Church, something really beautiful happened. It was actually kind of a weird night. If you’ve ever been to Community Church, you know that we have a lot of meetings that, if you’ve grown up in a highly traditional or formal church environment, could easily be labeled as “weird nights.” It’s not something that we try to do or anything. It’s just sort of the way things happen around there.

Anyway, tonight was especially weird for a few reasons. One, we were kind of down because the college semester has come to a close, and over half of our regular attendees are in college. Two, we had an unusual “service” because it was “member meeting night.” We needed to talk about the 2009 budget, so we just had a music/singing/worship time, and then said, “anybody who wants to stay can stay, but now we’re having a member meeting to talk about money.” That always runs a few people off. And three, it was a weird night because there were just a tremendous amount of prayer/mission needs/requests that came up.

I won’t go into all the details. There are some funny and interesting things that I could share about the way that Community Church handles things like budgets and budget meetings, but most of it would just sound like I’m bragging or trying to sound odd or something. Suffice it to say that we do things in a way that is absolutely our own and, hopefully, very biblical and beautiful. Com Church hates “business,” but we know that all organizations of any kind (and the church is, at some level, an organization, whether we hippies like it or not) must deal with various kinds of structure and administration. And we just think that, if we’re going to have to do those things, we ought to make them fun, communal, worshipful, and joyous. Have you ever heard those four words used when describing a business meeting at a church?

I didn’t think so.

Well, at the end of the meeting, after everybody looked up on the screen and saw how much money me and Scot and Thad all make, we had a short time of sharing and such. Several different people talked about needs that they had or were aware of, and people committed to help one another with their time, their money, etc.

There was one particular need that was rather close to my heart. I’ll give the brief back story.

A young woman in our church – we’ll call her Molly – has joint custody of three boys who she got to know a few years ago when she lived in their neighborhood. Molly is white and the boys are black. That shouldn’t matter for the sake of the story, but this is America, so it probably does. Staci and I have spent a significant amount of time with these people. Our kids and Molly's kids all play together a lot, and there's just a good bit of hanging out in one another's homes. We're all really close.

Molly shared some difficulties she’s been having in trying to live life as a single mother (she has a birth-daughter as well) and some of it was pretty heart-wrenching. None of it was a surprise to me or to Staci, but it's always hard to have to share things publicly. So I helped Molly articulate some of what is going on. Again, lots of folks in the church prayed for her – and her “family” – and offered ideas and help, etc.

But one really cool thing happened. This is the point of the story, in case you're in a hurry.

After the meeting concluded, everybody was just kind of milling around and chatting, etc, and Molly came up to me and we talked a little about how the meeting went and about how her week was looking as she continues to love and house these boys. While we’re talking, she just sort of casually says, “and I just realized today that I don’t really have the money to buy them Christmas presents.” Now, you have to understand that these boys have spent their entire lives in poverty, abuse, neglect, and utter despair. I can’t over-sell the drama and trauma that they’ve seen in their short lives (they are 11, 14, and 16 years old). So Molly really wanted to bless them with gifts.

Well, right as she’s saying this, another one of our members walks by. We’ll call him Jeff. Jeff is a good friend of mine and God has blessed him with lots of money. Jeff and his wife are extremely generous and hospitable. So I just grabbed Jeff as he was walking by and said to Molly, “tell him what you just told me.” It was just like that. No warning. I honestly didn’t even think it thru, you know?

So Molly tells Jeff what she told me, and he says,

“Oh nonsense. You have money. It’s just not in your wallet yet.”

He takes out his wallet right then and empties it into Molly’s hand. I couldn’t see how much money it was, but I saw some twenties and I saw some ones. It was at least $70-80, at most $200-300. Really, I have no idea. But it was just that fast and that simple.

Hey man. You have money. She doesn’t. Whaddaya say?

Bam. Cha-ching. Boo-yah. Whatever.

We don’t always have a “teaching time” at Community Church. But there’s always a sermon if you know how to listen for it.


Lauri Hahn said...

"No-brainer." That's how it looks when Jesus moves faster than you can think.

Loved this story.

And I prefer 'boo-yah." It sounds more Hebrew.

Todd Wright said...

What an amazing story...thanks for sharing it, man.

Com Church sounds totally weird and Biblical. Go figure!

Darin M Wood said...

I would love for all churches to be as flexible and generous as that! May the Lord bless Jeff, Molly and your amazing church.