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September 25th, 2011
08:11 PM ET

N.J. church reverses money flow, collection plate holds cash for congregants

From Rachel Garrett, CNN

(CNN) - A New Jersey church - already a bit different in that its three congregations gather weekly at two hotels and a middle school - put a new spin on the collection plate Sunday by having congregants take cash-filled envelopes from the plate in hopes that the money will be put to charitable use.

"People are cynical about religion and expect to come to church and be shaken down, but really, it's all God's money," Liquid Church pastor Tim Lucas said prior to Sunday services. "Every bill in the U.S. economy says 'In God we trust,' and we're going to put that to the test."

The Morristown, New Jersey-based nondenominational Christian church claims to collect $30,000 in weekly offerings from its three congregations, which gather at hotel facilities in Morristown and New Brunswick, and at a middle school in Nutley. The 10-year-old church, which says in its materials that more than 2,000 people attend its weekend services, planned to disperse that same amount - $30,000 - on Sunday, with congregants getting envelopes containing $10, $20 and $50 bills.

The goal, said Lucas, is for people to invest or use the money to help others, including those struggling to recover from recent massive flooding in New Jersey. He said he hopes others will invest their funds, nurture the investment for growth, and then donate the proceeds to the church to rebuild a homeless shelter.

Lucas, along with the pastors at the New Brunswick and Nutley branches of Liquid Church, is putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak, with this project.

"We're not a rich church. We don't own a building. We don't hold a mortgage, but we're trying to teach our people to be rich in good deeds," says Lucas, who founded the church and took its name from the church motto: "Jesus calls himself the living water, and we think church should be refreshing."

Executive Pastor Dave Brooks told CNN that the effort was aimed at impacting "our communities. Our emphasis is here in New Jersey, with hopes we can impact those who were affected by the floods of (Hurricane) Irene."

Beyond flood victims, Brooks said, there are people who simply need help.

"A lot of people are really suffering financially these days and looking for the government for a way out. We feel God can provide help for people," said Brooks. "We encourage people to work from the standpoint of generosity. Many people say 'In God we trust.' If you turn that around, God trusts you. We give money that God entrusted to us."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Money & Faith

soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. Chad

    Man or god make a choice when the trumpets blast we'll be fighting the USA trying to keep Jesus out of jail.then god will slay a third of man for his blasphemy and give government a one way ticket back to the idealistic he'll your plans come from. You can't conquer and enslave gods children.it's sad to say we don't have one leader going to heaven. And wee will have to answer for that because we followed.

    September 26, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  2. Joxer the Mighty

    I find it amusing that so many atheists come to the belief blog to trash believers and so many believers go to the science blog to trash atheists. Why can't we all get along?

    September 26, 2011 at 6:41 am |
    • TodayMessage

      There is one common word for both: hecklers

      September 26, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • pfft

      because my imaginary friend is better than theirs!

      September 26, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Jesus

      We can't get along because reason, science, and logic cannot mesh with irrationality and ignorance.

      September 26, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • neoritter

      @Jesus – I love the irony of your statement. Because the statement itself is irrational and ignorant. lol, classic! You are a funny man, I've got to say.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  3. unowhoitsme

    Put your faith in God, not religion. It's a cult and will only mess you up.

    September 26, 2011 at 6:00 am |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      Are you saying religion is a cult or faith in God is a cult?

      September 26, 2011 at 6:42 am |
  4. Bill Sargent

    I'm an atheist. So I actually care how the church handles money since they are tax free. Which they shouldnt be. Why dont, during the collection process, they have someone from a charity there to take the money directly from the plate after collection has happened... no need to "test" other humans, no need for other people to pay taxes on church money given to them by the church, no possibility of the church screwing people over. If in fact they really really just want this to be invested into a charity... just have different charity workers there every week to collect the money in front of everyone. Thats my two cents.

    September 26, 2011 at 4:39 am |
    • TAO2112

      AMEN! TAX ALL CHURCHES!

      September 26, 2011 at 5:55 am |
    • SAFENHISGRACE

      Since you claim to be an Athiest, you must realize you DO NOT KNOW how God or His people work, that you DO NOT KNOW that true CHristians see the need, & work to meet the need (just as God did when He gave His only Son because He loved the world~~His People), so why do you even open your mouth & spill out all this negativity on people who are helping others. Your negativity and selfishness are not needed or wanted, unless, of course, you want to help by giving money to others in need. I seriously doubt that, because Athiests cannot possibly have a giving spirit, but a complaining, greedy, selfish, negative one, because one must have the heart of Jesus Christ, one that loves unconditionally to want to give on such a grand scale..

      September 26, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • ThsIsNotReal22

      Not all money collected by a church goes to "charities" some of it goes to pay salaries for pastors and staff, and some goes for building maintenance. Some of it also goes back to church members who may be very poor or down on their luck, usually called a benevolence fund. But don't worry, once a pastor receives his salary, he has to pay taxes on it like anyone else. So the salary portion end up being taxed. As far as the rest, why should it be taxed? You act as if a church must pass on all the money to a charity. But a church is ITSELF a charity organization. So it should NOT be taxed. Just because they pay salaries to some people does not mean its a for-profit organization. Most charity organizations have staff on salary. And just like any other charity, a church also uses many volunteers and provides free services to people such as counseling.

      September 26, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • pfft

      @SAFENHISGRACE
      you must be joking. generally, atheists know more about your religion (as well as plenty of others) than you do, in fact many are ex-believers. non-religious charities (UNICEF, World Health Organization, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative) must have some hidden agenda, for they couldn't possibly see the need to help their fellow humans without some magical deity threatening them with eternal torture if they didn't! bill's comment was not inflammatory, it was his opinion, unlike yours which fully expresses your own insecurities and ignorance.

      September 26, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • TodayMessage

      SAFENHISGRACE said"

      ..God did when He gave His only Son because He loved the world~~His People), .., because Athiests cannot possibly have a giving spirit, "

      I found SAFENHISGRACE spirit offensive. Religious people do not have the monopoly of giving spirit. SAFENHISGRACE told other to shutup ..because their IGNORANCE. I feel SAFENHISGRACE should take his/her own medicine.

      BTW, if God truly loves his people, He should put more forgiveness and less hatre in his people. (One more example "He" is not a perfect "God")

      September 26, 2011 at 8:20 am |
    • BS

      Churches don't pay taxes because they don't make profits. Most churches struggle to even make ends meet. If you want to tax 25% of zero, be my guest.

      September 26, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      @pfft: Don't forget Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières)! My personal favorite.

      I never donate to any charity associated with religion. I know what their so called "charities" do in third world countries. Proselytize to the sick, weak, and poor! Give them food, shelter, and medicine acting like self-appointed angels on earth. Disgusting self-wanking of their own egos. Using "charity" money as a front to try to convert people.

      September 26, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • Caro

      Actually I have seen with my eyes what they did with the money. 1. They fully renovated and decorated a soup kitchen in New Brunswick. 2. They fully renovated and decorated a rehab center in Morristown for men who sufferer from alcoholism and drug addiction. Look it up, it is a series called "We Love" .... And they continue to help those organizations. So I would recommend that before trashing them and saying that they are testing their members you look at the facts. It's easy for some one who only sees the surface to judge, but if you were to try to be on the inside your perspective would be different.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  5. Jimtanker

    I need to go to that church. I would clean them right out. If they challenge me on it I would just say that god told me to take it.

    September 26, 2011 at 3:54 am |
    • André

      My thoughts exactly. OR, you can tell them, "You're a christian ? Well then, forgive me" 🙂

      September 26, 2011 at 4:02 am |
    • Jesus

      Sam Kinison, the late comic, told a story of a near empty collection plate after one of his sermons (he had a stint as a Pastor). He whipped out a gun and commanded by the authority of God for everyone to make generous donations. Taking a cue from that, attendees out of work ought to confront the Pastor at the end of the sermon and demand all his cash in the name of God.

      September 26, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  6. EricOnCNN

    In a last-ditch effort to trick more individuals into subservient ignorance, (and hopefully garner free publicity from sites like cnn.com in the process), a NJ church has decided to hand out a small portion of their tax-free panhandling income. Says one church spokesman, "Hey, it worked for the Joker – Maybe it can work for us too!", he continued "Money money money money, who do you trust?"

    September 26, 2011 at 3:09 am |
    • The 2 2r

      You can go with thes33k3r. You two could make a great companion in misery.

      September 26, 2011 at 3:40 am |
    • EricOnCNN

      @The 2 2r – How wrong you are. Ignorance isn't the only path to a blissful life.

      September 26, 2011 at 4:41 am |
  7. thes33k3r

    Good sign. Churches are getting so desperate to bring in more people that they will give them money.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • The 2 2r

      What are you seeking? I bet there's no clown could ever make you smile. Life is too hard for you to handle. You can jump on the cliff.

      September 26, 2011 at 3:32 am |
    • John Richardson

      Do clowns make anyone smile?

      September 26, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Jane Rcasdaughter

      Yep! but not as much the way you do. Why not try to make s33k3r smile?

      September 27, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  8. Toni501

    I understand that churches are non-profits and don't pay taxes but if they are handing money to a person and not another non-profit or charity then that money has to have taxes taken out just as though it were a paycheck.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  9. Toni501

    I hope they expect to pay income tax, medicare, & social security from all the money the church gives to people. It's not tax free that route!

    September 26, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • ACS

      ...Actually, one can give a person an annual gift of $10000 tax free to both. I'm sure nobody at the church is taking that much in a year. If they got the $50 a week that'd be only $2600.

      September 26, 2011 at 6:14 am |
  10. Joe

    I understand everyone's cynicism and criticisms about this, but if you do any kind of research on Liquid Church you'll know this isn't really scheme or a big way to cash or anything... Just Trust...
    The idea is that they just want to show us what it's like to be trusted with a gift like that. Whether your atheist, agnostic or anything else, we know that God trusts you and we want to share the joy of sharing even of the tiniest gifts we're given with the people who desperately need it.
    You can call it what you want, but at the heart of it its nothing but love and trust.

    September 26, 2011 at 12:47 am |
    • SkipJunkman

      Maybe you should give me your money. I'll put it to a real good use. Trust me.

      September 26, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • TAO2112

      TAX ALL CHURCHES! Centers for mind control!

      September 26, 2011 at 5:58 am |
  11. GodHimself666

    If it's GOD'S MONEY why do these priests ask people for the money? ASK GOD and he should send them a bag every day... Dumb people...

    ""People are cynical about religion and expect to come to church and be shaken down, but really, it's all God's money," "

    September 26, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Jesus

      ...and since there is NO PROOF WHATSOEVER that God or Gods exist, then whose money is it?

      September 26, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  12. Reality

    For those with extra money, please make a donation to the USA. We just happen to be $14 trillion in debt.

    Here is the address:

    Gifts to the United States
    U.S. Department of the Treasury
    Credit Accounting Branch
    3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
    Hyattsville, MD 20782

    September 26, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • André

      HAHAHAHA ! Good one !

      September 26, 2011 at 4:04 am |
  13. clearfog

    It's called a Ponzi scheme.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • The Guy

      The oldest one in human history...

      September 26, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  14. Bo

    @SecularTruther, I can agree with you, if if there was no accounting for this money before they let it go out the door, but I have a hunch the money was accounted for, it just wasn't mentioned in the article as how it was done.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  15. SecularTruther

    How desperate christians are getting to spread fictional fairy tales, just because people are showing up for $20.00 doesn't mean they are going to believe the nonsense of the bible.

    September 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • JJ

      Wow... you sound quite spiteful for some reason.

      September 25, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • dave836

      Don't worry JJ, he's just PMSing...

      September 25, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • John T.

      @SecularTruther you can say the same thing about science, the scientist change their story every few years. While religion has stayed the same for centuries.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • ebag

      the kingdom of heaven is within

      September 26, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      John.T the nature of science is that it is always self correcting.. always has and always will. New knowledge builds on old...it is not a weakness but a strength. I would like to ask you, what new info in the bible was given to Humans that they did not know already.. as it was written by men it had only the wisdom, knowledge and social norms of 2000yrs ago..

      September 26, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • pfft

      @JohnT
      true. science is constantly changing it's views to give humans the best understanding of the natural forces in our universe. science is open to any and all evidence and only seeks to improve humanity. science is the only thing that has given our civilization success and comfort in an otherwise dismal and dangerous place. religion has given us...well i don't think i should say...

      September 26, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • Sandee

      @EvolveDNA, it is true that science is always changing and that is a good thing. However, the bible remains the same from 2000 years ago and guess what? the old stories from the bible are still applicable to our every day lives from the beginning of time, now and forever. God's word remains the same. The offering collected is for maintenance and upkeep of the building of worship, pastors' salaries and benevolence and outreach initiatives.

      September 26, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  16. Bo

    This isn't exactly anything new. I went to a church that one time handed out, $10, $20, and $50 bills. the recipants were to invest the money and bring back the dividends. I don't remember how much the church invested, but the dividens more than doubled. I remember one 12 & 13 yr old girl invested in chickens and when they started laying eggs the dividens were almost non stop. It was voted the best investment. (She had one thing going for her, her parents already had some unused chicken pens in the back yard.)

    September 25, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Jesus

      I think they should have egged the Church.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  17. Mommynator

    Dear Mr. What-A-Joke:

    Go ahead, tax away. Then we won't be able to do the charitable work. Did it ever occur to you that the money we donate has already been taxed to death? That's one of the things destroying private charity and public businesses.

    If you want to pay more taxes, please do. Write a check to the IRS – the god of your choice.

    September 25, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • PallasAthene

      Your donations are tax-deductible. If they weren't, corporations wouldn't donate jack. Christians donate or do good deeds because it will supposedly get them into heaven. I do good deeds because it's the right thing to do, and it makes me feel good. There's usually a payoff somewhere. I do it because it pleases ME. Not because it will please any deity, or because I can get some sort of monetary benefit. For some folks, it's both!

      September 26, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • dave836

      @Pallas – Well thanks a ton for assuming all Christians think that way. I don't do charitable things just to get into heaven. I barely think about getting into heaven. I'm more worried about the present.

      I volunteer at the food bank every week just because I feel like I need to help society. I don't even do it for self satisfaction. I absolutely hate working there and I know that people who aren't in need abuse the food bank just to get free food. But I do it anyways because there are still a few that do need it and couldn't live without the service.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • LMM

      PallasAthene – You misunderstand how most Christians view this, particulary evangelical protestants. They believe that you are NOT saved by good deeds, but on faith alone. However, the bible says "faith without works is dead", meaning if you really have faith in the Jesus Christ portrayed in the bible, then you will WANT to do good deeds. However, there are a minority of Christians who believe just "being a good person" gets you into heaven, and a majority of atheists who feel that because they are "good", religion has no value to them.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • dave836

      @LMM – IDK about you, but I definitely believe that you have to have more than faith to get into heaven. You have to be an all-around good person. That doesn't mean you should be worried about it though. Just be a good throughout your life and you'll be fine.

      And, I believe that God accepts anyone who is good – not just people of a certain faith. So, if an Atheist is good throughout their life, they will get to heaven too. God isn't some judge who decides who goes spends the rest of eternity in hell or the rest of eternity in heaven, God loves all of his creations.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • TAO2112

      What charitable work? You got your hand in people's pockets for school, the palm of your hand on their head for mind control. And by the way they prey on your children. Real acts of charity. GMAB! TAX ALL CHURCHES!

      September 26, 2011 at 6:02 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      Oh. You mean your charitable organizations in third-world countries that act as a front for proselytizing? Free food! But it's gonna cost ya you hungry sick poor people!

      September 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  18. John Richardson

    I'm sure the very thought of this becoming popular scares the televangelists!

    September 25, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  19. pfft

    i'll put it to some charity use, all the way to taco bell!!!

    September 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  20. What a joke

    $30,000 x 52 weeks in a year = 1,560,000 a year. And 0% in taxes.

    It's time to start taxing churches.

    September 25, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • JSH

      Exactly what would you tax a NON-PROFIT church or corporation on??? They don't make a profit!! That's the whole purpose.

      September 25, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Spiffy

      The Catholic Church is by far the most wealthiest organization in the world.

      September 25, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Please educate yourself

      Dear "What A Joke", please educate yourself on the operation of churches and other nonprofits. Churches give more support to the community than any other organization. The government would have to increase your taxes a great deal if the churches were no longer able to use their funds for the community because the government would suddenly have to dramatically increase their services to replace what was lost. Please try visiting your local church to see what it is all about.

      September 25, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • dave836

      @Spiffy – It's also one of the most charitable organization in the world...

      September 25, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • *frank*

      Al Capone gave plenty of money to the poor too, after stealing and murdering for it, same as the church.

      September 25, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • dave836

      @*frank* – I guess if by stealing and murdering you mean collecting optional donations on Sunday then ya, sure....

      September 25, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • ebag

      like the native tribes of north america, who were charitable enough to donate the entire continent

      September 26, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • dave836

      @ebag That doesn't make sense either ebag. Christians aren't "donating"(The US was taken from Native Americans btw. IDK if you're being sarcastic in that statement...) something as big as an entire continent. We are just helping out the needy. It's not that big of a deal.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • SAFENHISGRACE

      DID YOU EAD THE ARTICLE????? YOU'RE ONLY LOOKING AT ONE PART OF THE ARTICLE~~~~~THEY GIVE IT ALLL AWAY......Does the Govt give it all to the people??? NO they give it to multi billion dollar corporations so they can give bonuses to their leaders who ALREADY have $$millions$$!!!!! THEY'RE HELPING FILL A NEED OF as many of THE POOR as they can...WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HELP THOSE LESS FORTUNATE??? NOTHING BUT COMPLAINING SO SHUT UP WITH YOUR IGNORANCE

      September 26, 2011 at 7:05 am |
    • SAFENHISGRACE

      DID YOU READ THE ARTICLE????? YOU'RE ONLY LOOKING AT ONE PART OF IT~~~~THEY GIVE IT ALL AWAY, so why should they be taxed??? Does the Govt give it all to the people??? NO they give it to multi billion dollar corporations so they can give bonuses to their leaders who ALREADY have $$millions$$!!!!! THEY'RE HELPING FILL THE NEED OF as many of THE POOR as they can...WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HELP THOSE LESS FORTUNATE??? NOTHING BUT COMPLAINING SO SHUT UP WITH YOUR IGNORANCE...I dont know if you're Athiest, but you DO have the "attributes of one" & its people like you w/ the ignorance that comes with being Athiest that do nothing but try to stop Christians from helping others!!!

      September 26, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • pfft

      @SAFENHISGRACE
      stop talking as if you know anything about any poster's life. you judge fervently and quickly, like a true christian. the only thing atheists are try to stop christians from doing is driving our society based on a 3500 year old collection of fairytales instead of hard science. what am i doing to help the poor and less fortunate? oh i don't know, working at the soup kitchen occasionally, making dinner for sick children at the Ronald McDonald House, and tutoring inner-ctiy kids. is religious nonsense essential for doing good? absolutely not, you can get better moral direction from fortune cookies.

      September 26, 2011 at 8:32 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.