We’ve compiled examples from 11 churches who are giving in outrageously generous ways. Some of these campaigns were one-time events, others are on-going. Use the list as inspiration to create an outrageous act of generosity for your own church. Share it with your leadership team to see what sparks their interest. Please feel free to reach out to any of the churches listed below to encourage them and also to ask questions if you’d like.
1. LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, IL
LaSalle Street Church was one of three churches in the 1970s who helped support a multi-ethnic, multi-income housing development. In June of 2014, that property was sold, netting the church a profit of $1.6 million. The church decided to tithe on that return, giving 10 percent of the proceeds back to their church members, $500 each, for a total of $160,000. The story ended up grabbing national headlines, including NBC Chicago, the Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and Fox News.
2. Lake Forest Park Church and Pepita Bilingual Preschool in Lake Forest Park, WA
Last Christmas, Lake Forest Park Church and Pepita Bilingual Preschool reached out to a local elementary school and asked the counselors for a list of low-income families they could sponsor. This included one single mother, Justine: “My boys and I were recipients of several gifts each (not cheap ones, either) as well as a trunkload of delicious, festive groceries. The family advocate at the school surprised me by email to ask if I was interested first. When I said yes, they asked for answers to something we’d want, need, wear, and read.”
3. Bayside Church Conference in Roseville, CA
At the Bayside Church Conference, the team called in a pizza order, asked the Round Table Pizza delivery driver to come to the stage, and gave them $3,000+ tip. Check out the video below to see the generosity in action.
Additional imitations of this event have popped up all across the country since then. Here’s three examples:
- Go Church: This church closed out their Transformational Acts of Generosity series by performing an act of their own. They ordered a pizza from Papa John’s and blessed the single mother with a large tip. Click the link to see photos.
- Covenant Life Church: The Pastor called up the local Domino’s and asked to bless someone on their staff. The Domino’s manager sent a single mother of three who received a tip of $1400. This story was picked up by the local news station. Click the link to hear the story.
- Chugach Covenant Church: Two weeks after another church in Ohio tipped a deliver driver $1,000, Chugach Church in Anchorage decided to up the ante by ordering a pizza and tipping their driver $1,900.
4. Open Life Church in Bonney Lake, WA
The idea for Community Big Give started in 2010 with Open Life Church donating Thanksgiving meals to 150 low-income families through the local elementary school. Since then, it has grown to over 400 volunteers and 1,000 meals provided to low-income families every year. It’s now done in partnership with the city, the local food bank, and companies such as Walmart, Fred Meyer, and more.
5. Francis Chan and Eugene Cho
Francis Chan has a reputation for being an incredibly generous person. Here’s a small peek into his motivation:
“For example, when I returned from my first trip to Africa, I felt very strongly that we were to sell our house and move into something smaller, in order to give more away. The feedback I got was along the lines of ‘It’s not fair to your kids,’ ‘It’s not a prudent financial choice,’ and ‘You are doing it just for show.’ I do not remember a single person who encouraged me to explore it or supported me to explore it or supported the decision at the time. We ended up moving into a house half the size of our previous home, and we haven’t regretted it. My response to the cynics, in the context of eternity, was, am I the crazy one for selling my house? Or are you for not giving more, serving more, being with your Creator more?” (pp. 135–136 from his book, Crazy Love.)
Eugene Cho started a non-profit organization called One Day’s Wages after committing to give away $68,000, equal to his full year’s salary. He actually followed through with this commitment as well. He talks more about his personal generosity journey and struggles in his book, Overrated (linked to above by clicking on his name).
6. Willow Creek in South Barrington, IL
In honor of their 40th anniversary, Willow Creek is helping 40 churches in developing countries move into permanent church facilities. Here’s how Pastor Bill Hybels describes it:
“Our leadership team has been asking ourselves, ‘What could we do in honor of the 40th anniversary that would bring God the greatest delight? It hit us, we are deeply blessed to have a permanent church home in South Barrington—and each of our regional congregations are well on their way to having permanent homes. But one of the greatest discouragements and barriers to ministry for pastors in developing countries is the lack of permanent space. Tents, leaky roofs, unsafe structures, and high rents are all too common. What if we could provide 40 of our partner churches all across the globe with a one-time infusion of resources so they could construct 40 safe, permanent homes for their congregations?“
7. The Mission Church in Renton, WA
As a young church plant of 80 people, The Mission Church raised and gave away $16k to plant 16 churches in Sierra Leone. When they’d grown to 110 people, they raised and gave an additional $37k to provide seminary training for each of the pastors of the 16 churches. This church planting work was done directly through the church and is completely privately funded.
8. Park Community Church in Chicago, IL
A couple years ago, Park Community Church gave their entire congregation, around 2500 people at the time, envelopes with cash ranging from $1–$102 to invest into someone else. This was a $12,000 total investment for the church. The called it the INVEST campaign, and you can watch the actual Sunday service where they give away the envelopes here (watch starting at the 41 minute mark).
The amazing part about this story is the creative ways folks ended up growing their money and then using it to invest into the people of Chicago. Here’s a couple collections of those stories as told by major secular media outlets:
- The Huffington Post: Chicago Church Money Giveaway: Park Community Church Hands Members Cash for Good Deeds
- The Chicago Tribune: Near North Side church to spread cash around city
9. Holy Cross Parish in Lake Stevens, WA
In one of our more creative acts of generosity, Holy Cross Parish in Lake Stevens grows potatoes every year to give to the area’s food banks. They donate 60,000–70,000 pounds of potatoes a year.
10. First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, FL
In perhaps our most dramatic example, the team of FBC at the Mall felt like God was calling them to give a million dollars away each year to missional causes. In 2015, they kicked off this ambitious goal by agreeing to give away their entire Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday offerings. This meant two Sundays in a row without contributing to their general operations budget. They ended up raising $410,975 on their first Sunday and $300,802 on their second Sunday. A normal Sunday offering brings in between $120-160,000.
The Palm Sunday offering was used to pay down the churches $4.1 million in debt. The Easter Sunday offering was divided between seven nonprofits and then presented to leaders from each organization from the stage, while the church prayed over them. The check to each organization came out to about $40,000.
In 2015, FBC at the Mall looks like this:
- Total given to debt reduction as of Nov. 30th: $949,248
- Total given to missions as of Nov. 30th: $842,953
As a fun twist to the story, in September of 2015 they , ere unexpectedly given a multi-million dollar facility in which they could start a second campus. The campus is scheduled to officially launch on Easter Sunday 2016 – a fitting tribute.
11. Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN
Cross Point Church in Nashville runs an incredible on-going campaign called the Dollar Club. One week a month, at all their campuses, they ask people to give $1 each. They then collect and donate this money to a person in need within the community. As they put it, “One small gesture of generosity can affect someone in such a massive way.”
Their video team then documents the delivery of the gift, creating inspirational milestones for the church body to look back upon. Here’s one of my favorites: