Our small groups are amazing. This month alone we've had groups give hundreds of dollars to help members get back on their feet financially, and we've had groups engage in deep and challenging conversation about diversity, race, and social justice. I love hearing about stories like this. They show that our small groups are filled with people who are not afraid to be authentic with each other and for that, I'm grateful, because it's in close community and friendship with each other that true growth happens.
I'm especially excited about what's happening in the Crown Heights small group this spring. They get a special shout-out during this "Together in This" campaign for the efforts they're making to be more generous with their finances. Back in April after we first announced our goal to raise $250,000 to support Forefront, the Crown Heights small group led by Carolyn Taylor decided they were going to make a pledge to give as a group.
They're calling this pledge: "Feed the Bear"
Here's their plan...
Part 1: Each member of the small group is encouraged to prayerfully examine their personal giving and make a recurring "Together in This" pledge online.
Part 2: In addition, small group members collected cash in Mr. Breeze Bear at small group each week. On Wed, May 11th, they counted the money in Mr. Bear and used that information to decide what their group's monthly pledge would be. This week they plan to fill out a "Together in This" pledge card as the Crown Heights Small Group and collectively pledge to bring Mr. Bear's cash to church as offering once a month for the rest of 2016.
To make this happen, the group brainstormed about the many ways we all waste our money without thinking about it throughout the week. (ex: all those ATM fees you pay at the bodega when you don't feel like walking all the way to your own bank.) They also made commitments to each other to make sacrifices in line with their values and goals for spiritual growth. Below is what Carolyn wrote to me after their first small group with Mr. Breeze Bear.... (Yes, he's named after Forefront's Breeze online giving platform.)
"Here are a few ways that members chose to find cash for him:
- Incremental gift challenge ($1 this week, $2 next week, etc.)
- Penalty for interrupting or swearing during group
- Loose change collections
- Make one sacrifice per week (coffee/lunch/beer)
- Collect small group beer bottles for recycling funds each week
- Daily devotional challenge ($1 each time devotion is missed)"
The best part of this pledge was how excited everyone got about giving together...
"Sometimes getting everyone excited about a church initiative is like pulling teeth. Not everyone is passionate about the same things. So it was really amazing to see the immediate enthusiasm that our group had for this campaign and all the creative ideas they have for giving, both on an individual level and as a united small group."
I #LoveForefront for all the incredible leaders like Carolyn and the members of the Crown Heights small group who use their creativity, generosity, and love every week to care for others and grow our church. I'm excited to see how much Mr. Breeze Bear brings for his offering on May 22 and am looking forward to celebrating with these lovely people at our Gala tomorrow night!