Something exponential is possible when we release what we have been given to steward
From a video by Gospel Patrons
Due to the interest in my recent blog on 'Building a culture of justice in your church', I thought you might like to hear the back story about how the church in Chicago came to be giving 200 cars away a year.
As a reminder, Nancy Ortberg was a leader in a church in Chicago and after seven years of asking their neighbours to church without a positive response, they came to her and asked when the church services were. This was due to the church giving a car to a teaching assistant they worked with. She was a single mum with three children. Her husband had left her not long after the third child was born. She had very little money. There was often times when she barely had enough food. She had no car. She would take two buses to work after she got her kids off to school.
The neighbours had gone to work one day and the teaching assistant came running into the office and saying, "You are never going to believe what's happened. But a church, which I don't go to by the way, gave me a free car." They were like, "There's no way, churches don't do that." They listened to her story and said, "I think that's the church where our neighbours work."
How did that cars ministry happen?
Twelve years before, the pastor was preaching. When the sermon was over, he was standing over in the corner greeting people and a big brawny guy with not very many teeth, lots of tattoos, nicotine stains around his fingers and long hair came over and shook the pastor's hand and said, "I've been coming to this church for 18 months. My life was falling apart when I came here. My wife had left me, took the kids, multiple addictions on my part. I had lost my job. I actually came to church the first time 18 months ago with a gun." The pastor was thinking, "Where's this story going? Where are the ushers when you need them? Just keep listening and breathe."
He continued, "For 18 months your sermons moved me and eventually I got into a small group and I began to understand who Jesus was. I was so resistant because I couldn't possibly believe that anybody could help me. The longer I learned about Jesus the more I began to let myself believe that it was possible that Jesus could put my life back together again." He got involved in a recovery group and his wife eventually agreed to come back and get marriage counselling. He put his life back together.
Then he said to the pastor, "Here's what I know. I'm a mechanic, that's what I do. I can't preach a sermon. I can't sing a song but I am so filled up with grace that I'm about to bust. If I don't figure out a way to give some of this away I'm going to die. Here's what I know. You have some rich people that go to your church and I know that because I know cars. But you know you've got some poor people that go to your church and I watch them. About 8 out of every 10 of the people that get out of the bad cars are single mums. Sometimes the cars are so bad that after the mums take the kids into church, I lay on my back and get underneath and look at the engine." The pastor's thinking, "You're under the engines. You're bringing guns. This is not going to end well."
Then he said to the pastor, "Here's what I'd like you to consider. I'd like you to consider the next time you get up to preach, will you tell your rich people that the next time they buy a car, they don't need the trade-in value. So donate that trade-in car to the church and then I will get some other people in this church that are mechanics like me and we'll form a little team. We'll go out sell that (usually) big car at auction. We'll get five cars and we'll bring them in here and we'll fix them up and we'll give them away to single mums."
The last year that Nancy was on staff at that church, the church gave away 200 cars to single mums.
Here's the deal, what didn't work inviting neighbours to church, getting them to hear a sermon, getting them to listen to worship music or join a small group, happened when somebody in the church took their own money and their time and their resources outside the church and started intersecting with people who weren't coming in the doors. Something exponential is possible when we start to release what we have been given to steward.
View the video here:
What hidden gifts are present in your church?
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From a video by Gospel Patrons, 13/02/2017